Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Consumer Products

Unguarded Shear Point on Force Tester Amputates Worker’s Finger

A worker was injured while testing gas springs similar to the type that hold the hatchback of an SUV open. The hazard that injured the worker was an unguarded shear point. The tester contained a mounting plate that was raised and lowered by a pneumatic cylinder.

The pneumatic cylinder lowered the mounting plate while the worker’s fingers were in the hazardous, unguarded shear point. Read More

Electric Hazard Guardrail photo

Hazards Can Lurk Anywhere … Watch Your Step …

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While on a lunch stop during a recent vacation trip through Tennessee, I happened across a safety hazard that required immediate attention.  The establishment had a raised concrete patio at the front with a steel railing around the perimeter.  At one edge of the patio was a set of stairs with a continuation of the steel railing used as a handrail.  The top edge of the patio had light strings wrapping the top metal bar as accent lighting for the perimeter.  The light string continued down the stair handrail wrapped in the same manner as the rest of the patio. Read More

Hot Tub Hazards

Danger Lurking in the Hot Tub

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Several dangers involving the use of a hot tub (spa) may readily come to mind, such as the risk of shock or electrocution, or the risk of drowning for unsupervised young children.  Not so readily apparent is the effect of overheating the human body, or “hyperthermia”.

Some individuals are more susceptible to the effects of hyperthermia, including the elderly, young children, and those in poor health.  The effects of hyperthermia, or overheating of the human body, cause direct responses such as headache, nausea, heat exhaustion, increased cardiac output, lethargy, confusion, heat stroke and unconsciousness.  The onset of hyperthermia is defined as being at 99.5° F; if the body temperature reaches 104° F, a life-threatening medical emergency exists.  Read More

Figure 2: A Webshare photograph from a scan captured from the safety of a balcony in the workshop. The scanner operator never had to climb directly above the forklift to create the shot in Figure 1. The Webshare user can pan, zoom, and measure from the photograph. The grey target icons represent other scan locations on the ground.

Another Dimension of Engineering, Part 2: Visual Demonstrations Can Clarify the Issue

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In our last post on 3D scanning, we introduced Warren’s new Faro Focus X 330 three dimensional scanner.  To recap, the Faro scanner combines three dimensional laser measurement with automated photography to capture 360-degree data from the real world. Potential applications include vehicle accident scenes and damaged vehicles, structural collapses, fire scenes, flood damage scenes, and machinery and equipment analysis, among others. In this post, we will highlight some of the outputs that can be created from the detailed data captured by the scanner. Read More

A power buggy fitted with an outrigger for tip-over testing.

Injury on Power Buggy

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When an operator is thrown from a ride-on vehicle when it tips over, such as a mud buggy, serious injury or death can result. In one such case I investigated, the issue centered on the maintenance of the vehicle, specifically whether a maladjusted hydrostatic drive caused the braking mechanism to malfunction. Read More

One of the fractured Grade 5 bolts used to secure a concrete truck mixer drum to a drive flange.

Bolted Connection Failures

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One of the most common features of machinery, consumer products, and assemblies of any type is the bolted joint. Sometimes the joint fails, with results ranging from inconsequential to catastrophic. The design of a joint is in the purview of an engineer, who must consider the material to be joined, the geometry of the joint, the loads imposed on the joint, the strength of the connectors (i.e., bolts, screws) environmental effects (i.e., temperatures, corrosion) and perhaps other factors. Read More

A view of the primary air inlet on one brand of firelog.

Firelog Maintenance: Tips to Keep Your Home Soot Free

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If you have ever experienced it, you know that sooting from a fireplace can cause unsightly damage throughout a home. In some cases, sooting from gas firelogs is caused by improper placement of the logs, such that flame impinges on the artificial log. When heated, the “log” will give off soot, so placement of the logs is important. Some manufacturers provide locating pins for the logs to rest on, so that proper placement is easier to achieve. Read More

Frozen Tankless Water Heater Losses

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Recently, we have seen a number of water damage losses stemming from gas-fired and electric tankless water heaters exposed to freezing temperatures. Tankless hot water heaters have been growing in popularity and use due to their energy savings over traditional water heaters. These units are typically installed on the exterior of a home or business in areas of the country where prolonged freezing or extremely low temperatures are not common. Read More

A view of a pipe elbow that cracked after being exposed to sub-freezing conditions.

Freeze Damage to Fire Sprinkler Systems

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The ongoing frigid temperatures serve as a reminder of the many investigations by Warren engineers involving fire sprinkler systems that have failed when some part of the system was exposed to the sub-freezing conditions. Interestingly, failures do not necessarily occur within the area of greatest freeze exposure, as the failure mechanism is the extreme pressure that results from the growth of an ice plug inside the exposed pipe in which the high pressure will rupture the weakest component which may even be located in a heated area of the sprinkler system. Read More

The interior of this chase and the surrounding roof framing was badly burned in a fire.  The fire resulted from construction defects in the installation of the chimney system.

Fire Losses Involving Improper Construction and Installation of Fireplaces and Chimneys

Author

On a cold winters night a family is gathered in the living room of their home enjoying the warmth of their fireplace.  After using the fireplace all day, they go off to bed to a nice restful sleep.  However, they are soon rudely waked by the sound of a smoke alarm in the home.  Rushing out into the cold night they can see smoke, but no flame in the home.  Outside, they can see that the chase around the fireplace chimney is burning.  The fire department is called and thankfully extinguishes the fire before it does widespread damage, however the family must leave the home for several months as repairs are made. Read More

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