Failure Analysis

Gathering evidence for Failure Analysis

Isolate/identify the failure

Locate the failure, fracture, defect
Consider multiple failures or causes
It might be remote from the location of the worst damage

Photograph the scene and all evidence liberally

Secure the scene
Set camera to the correct date and time
Include scale markers in photos to indicate size
Use the highest quality image settings
Obtain photographs before disturbing the evidence
Obtain both overall site photographs and close-up photographs
Review photograph quality before leaving site

Secure evidence

Preserve failed parts, or full assembly if possible
Store evidence in clear, labeled plastic bags
Record the chain of custody (who, what, when, where)

Avoid spoliation

Document location as-found and condition of each item
Do not alter evidence during extraction
Document the extraction process (use notes, sequential photographs, video recordings)
Do not press fracture surfaces together
Do not unthread connections

Gather important site information

Time of incident
Pertinent site or evidence conditions pre- and post-incident (changes or adjustments in usage, settings, lighting, weather, etc.)
Dates of construction, installation, inspections, maintenance
Product manufacturer, model, serial number
User or installation/service manuals
Maintenance/service records
Invoices for purchase/installation
Witness statements

Talk to an expert early

Use an expert to help identify potentially relevant and important features of your case

Retaining an expert

Request expert’s CV
Discuss overall investigation approach
Agree on specific actions
Give clear, specific instructions
Discuss deadlines, milestones and budget

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