In its plainest terms, forensic science refers to the use of scientific methods to find out how or why something happened. Often, that thing is something unpleasant, like a crime, which is the automatic association most people make when they hear the word “forensic”.
That same term, however, is also relevant to a lot of fields, including engineering. Forensic engineering can work wonders — that is, if you know when to consult one.
But first thing’s first…
What Is a Forensic Structural Engineer
A forensic engineer is someone who investigates damage to persons or property that may have been caused by improper design, construction, or material flaws, water damage, or geotechnical issues like soil movement.
What Can a Forensic Structural Engineering Consultant Help You Assess?
Here are eight examples of what a forensic structural engineer (FSE) can help you determine.
1. Structural Failures and Damage
If structural failures have occurred, or if there’s been significant damage to a building or structure, an FSE can assess the extent of the damage, determine the cause of failure, and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
2. Building Code Compliance
An FSE can help you make sure that a structure complies with applicable codes and standards. This might happen during a building inspection, a renovation, or after a natural disaster.
3. Construction Defects or Poor Workmanship
If you notice construction defects or suspect poor workmanship on a current or past project, an FSE can conduct a full investigation and help you determine liability.
4. Insurance Claims and Litigation Support
Should you ever need help supporting an insurance claim or a court case, an FSE can be very helpful. Part of their skillset will include providing support in insurance claims and litigation involving any structural issues, including assessing damages, preparing reports, and providing testimony in legal proceedings.
5. Fire and Explosion Investigations
An FSE can also investigate fires and explosions that have affected structures or the surrounding environment, assess structural integrity, determine the cause, and provide recommendations for future fire safety.
6. Natural Disasters and Catastrophic Events
FSEs can assess the possible impact a natural disaster or other catastrophic event might have had on structures. Additionally, an FSE can help you determine whether or not they’re safe and recommend any needed repairs or retrofitting.
7. Aging Infrastructure
Have aging buildings or other structures? An FSE can assess things like bridges, dams, buildings, and more for structural integrity and safety. If any repairs are needed, they’ll also provide custom recommendations.
8. Renovations and Structural Modifications
Any time you’re making significant renovations or modifications to a commercial or industrial property, an FSE should be consulted. They can help determine the feasibility of any changes, ensure structural stability, and provide additional guidance to save you time and money and reduce risk.
Finding the Best Structural Engineering Firm
If you’d like additional insight into the ongoing safety, integrity, and resilience of your property and infrastructure, our team can help! We work with a wide range of clients — from private businesses to large federal agencies — to help them reduce risk, protect their assets, and make sure their dollars are spent strategically.
Furthermore, our infrastructure team has extensive expertise in the following areas:
- The food & beverage industry
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Glass manufacturing
- Oil & gas companies
- Environmental health & safety services
- Power and other utilities
Throughout our history we’ve found that many of our clients are best served with an ongoing solution as opposed to a one-and-done structural assessment. We’re also able to provide a fully digitized view of your structures and properties to give you real-time information about their current condition and if their design can accommodate their current use.
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