Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Construction Related Losses

Water in the Light Fixtures??? How HVAC Defects Appear in Strange Places

One of my more interesting calls and subsequent forensic investigations was regarding water accumulating inside of 2X4 fluorescent light fixtures in a suspended ceiling of a secondary school in South Carolina.

The client called and indicated that the metal chassis of the lights were sweating and generating enough water to accumulate on the diffuser lens of the lights.  Obviously, an on-site investigation was in order! Read More

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When the Walls Come Tumbling Down… Retaining Wall Basics

A wall is really boring until it fails. A retaining wall is supposed to hold back soil to either support a structure or keep a space clear. When it fails, both of those roles are compromised. A retaining wall does not have to collapse to fail. In fact, a failure is perhaps better defined as when the wall does not perform as expected. Read More

Case Study: Fatality Servicing Unsupported Excavator Boom

A mini-excavator at a job site developed a leak at a hydraulic fitting at the base of the cylinder that raises and lowers the boom. A subcontractor foreman at the site raised the boom to search for the leak. The foreman found and attempted to tighten the leaking fitting. When he did, the fitting separated from the base of the cylinder, releasing the hydraulic pressure that held the boom aloft. The boom fell and the bucket struck a nearby superintendent for the general contractor.

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Testing As Part of Gas Appliance Incident Investigation

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Equipment and appliances supplied with fuel gases like natural gas, propane and butane are a common and convenient part of most of our lives.  Such devices as gas grills and ranges, ovens, furnaces, space heaters and water heaters usually perform without incident.  However, when they malfunction the potential for incidents such as fires and explosions, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and burn injuries may occur. These incidents may be due to design and manufacturing defects in the product, or improper installation or operation of the device.

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Timber – Falling Beam Strikes Worker

As an experienced safety consultant, I have investigated many serious injuries and deaths at construction sites over the past 39 years. The United States Department of Labor reports that the fatal injury rate for the construction industry is highest of all industries in the nation. Out of 4,386 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2014, 899 or 20.5% were in construction i.e., one in five worker deaths were in construction. Read More

Why Should I be Concerned About Galvanic Corrosion?

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It is fairly common knowledge that the use of dissimilar metals in plumbing systems can quickly result in a leak due to a corroded pipe or fitting. Read More

Who Else Owns This Construction Loss Course

When a worker is badly injured on a construction site, adjusters or investigators are often hired to determine pursuit or defense of a subrogation case.  This slideshow gives an overview of several real-world investigations and helps viewers understand some of the issues involved in construction related subrogatable incidents. Read More

Water Intrusion/Moisture Issues – Finding the Source and Location

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What you see is not always what you get.  This commonality exists in the numerous cases I have investigated for water intrusion and moisture issues in buildings.  The source that appears most obvious and straightforward may not, in fact, be the root of the problem at all. Read More

Flood Damage versus Water Damage: Water Damage Assessment – Part II

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In the continuation of the series on “Flood Damage versus Water Damage”, we will now focus on cause and effects of water damage to residential and building structures and components.  As discussed before, our goal in this blog series is to accurately and consistently inform the adjuster on what determines flood damage and water damage to homes, buildings and their components.  According to the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) that will depend on a couple of things: 1) What type of insurance did the owner chose to purchase and 2) How did the water enter the residence or building? Read More

Flood Damage versus Water Damage: Flood Damage Assessment – Part I

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Recently, I read an article from the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) explaining the difference between “Flood Damage” and “Water Damage” that really hit home and I wanted to share with you again.  “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop should be there.  With dismay, you discover that your home is filled with damaging water.  Will your insurance policy cover this loss?”   Read More

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