Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Tag Archive: machine

  1. Conveyor Backstops: Sometimes One Isn’t Enough, Part 2

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    This is the second in a two-part blog series about conveying equipment that severely injured a worker at a mine. In case you missed it, click here to read Part 1 where I describe the incident and the mining equipment. In this part, I will discuss my engineering analysis of the incident and the machinery involved and share the conclusions I reached.

    The injured miner was a front-end loader operator. He was not a maintenance worker. He simply responded to a radio request for help with the conveyor. Power to the electric conveyor motors was locked out, but none of the maintenance workers did anything to lock out or block the hazardous gravitational potential energy in the heavy load of stone on the belt. (more…)

  2. Conveyor Backstops: Sometimes One Isn’t Enough, Part 1

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    This is the first of a two-part blog series describing an incident involving conveying machinery that seriously injured a miner. Part 1 describes the machinery and the incident. In Part 2 I will summarize my engineering analysis of the incident and share the conclusions I reached.

    A loaded, inclined conveyor belt may contain hazardous levels of energy due to gravity. To protect workers, anti-reverse devices called backstops are installed on inclined conveyors to prevent unexpected downhill movement. The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (CEMA) defines a backstop as: (more…)

  3. Unguarded Shear Point on Force Tester Amputates Worker’s Finger

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    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. (more…)

  4. Jury Claims Swamp Cooler is Not Defective; Interlocked Guards are Not Required

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    An evaporative cooler, also known as a “swamp cooler”, is an air conditioner that works by evaporating water.   A float valve keeps several inches of water in the bottom of the unit. A pump takes water from the pan to the top of a series of vertical pads made of absorbent materials like wood fibers. The water flows by gravity through the fiber pads. A fan pulls hot air from outside the house through the soaked pads. Water in the pads evaporates, cooling the air and increasing its humidity. The cooled and humidified air is blown back into the house. Evaporative coolers need to be cleaned periodically. (more…)

  5. Forensic Examination of Losses that Include Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s)

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    Many modern machines and processes are controlled by Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s).  PLC’s are essentially computers that have the ability, properly connected and programmed, to interface with the outside world and control the actions of a machine like a robot or conveyor.  The PLC has a processor for processing the user programmed logic, and also has input / output (I/O) wiring provisions for both analog (e.g. temperatures and pressure transducers) and digital (e.g. limit switches and indicator lights) devices.  (more…)

  6. Desk Reviews Answer Subrogation Questions

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    An important question concerning a workers’ compensation claim involving machinery and equipment is whether or not the loss can be subrogated to a responsible third party. In order to properly analyze this question, it is often helpful to have an engineer determine if the machine contains a condition of defect that caused the incident. One effective way to move ahead with confidence  — and without investing travel time and money into a full investigation — is a Warren desk review. (more…)

  7. Container Handler Fire

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    Container handlers are mobile, rubber-tired, machines that are used to load and stack standard containers at a variety of shipping terminals.  The machines resemble oversized forklifts but are equipped with shipping container lift spreaders instead of forks.  The machines are often equipped with sophisticated computer systems that inform the operator which container needs to be lifted as well as its destination, whether it is a truck, train, or storage stack. (more…)

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