Since 1988, Real-World Forensic Engineering, LLC ("RWFE") has provided engineering services to industries and government labs, as well as litigation support to both plaintiff and defense attorneys practicing in many areas.
Electrocution & Switch Malfunction Grounding & Lightning Protection Lightning Impulse Testing Products and Premises Liability & Safety High-Voltage & Current Power Systems Bridge Design and Safety Fire & Explosion Cause and Origin And Much More...
At RWFE, we proudly distinguish ourselves by our Four C's:
B.S., M.S., M.Eng., M.B.A., J.D., and Ph.D. Degreed Licensed Professional Engineers in Mechanical, Electrical, and Civil Engineering Tenured University Professors and Professionals NAFI Certified Fire and Explosion Investigators (CFEI) Licensed Master Electricians
Over 80 Combined Years of Experience in Engineering R&D, Industry, Academia, Consulting, and Expert Witness Litigation Support Over 120 Combined Deposition and Court Testimonies
Internationally Recognized in Our Areas of Expertise More Than $19 Million in Peer-reviewed and Funded Research Grants Over 200 Combined Scientific Publications and Journal Articles
Over 20 Different Undergraduate and Graduate-level University Courses Over 30 Invited Short Courses, Talks, and Lectures
Design Evaluation – Accident Investigation – Intellectual Property Failure Analysis – Fire Cause & Origin – Component Testing Computer Aided Drafting – Accident Animation Expert Witness & Litigation Support
Dr. J. P. Purswell, PhD, PE, CPE has extensive experience in Human Factors, Ergonomics and Safety Engineering. He holds a doctorate in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. He has taught Safety Engineering Ergonomics in the Industrial Engineering Department at CSU-Pueblo since 1999. A member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and the American Industrial Hygiene Association, Dr. Purswell also served as the Chair of the Industrial Engineers PE exam from 2005 to 2009. He continues to serve on the committee which is responsible for the preparation of the national professional engineering examination in industrial engineering. Dr. Purswell is the author of more than 20 publications and presentations on Product Safety, Occupational Safety, Printed Warnings, and Auditory Warnings. Examples of products addressed include silica, asbestos, cleaning chemicals, gasoline containers, and recreational equipment. Dr. Purswell maintains NIST-calibrated equipment for the measurement of light, sound, force, and whole-body and hand-arm vibration in addition to standard photo and video equipment. Dr. Purswell has been an Expert Witness in the legal industry since 1997. He has been qualified as an expert in state and federal courts across the nation in safety engineering, including safety analysis techniques such as Fault Tree Analysis and FMEA as well as product warnings / instructions and OSHA compliance issues. Dr. Purswell's services include site inspections, document review, drafting Rule 26-compliant reports, deposition, and trial testimony. He has been retained by attorneys for both Plaintiff (40%) and Defense (60%) more than 100 times, has been deposed approximately 50 times, and has testified at trial over 20 times. Areas of Expertise:
Warning and Safety Instructions
Chemical Accident Prevention
Lockout / Tagout & Machine Guarding
Trucks and Forklift Accidents
Power Tools Safety
Hazard Communication - Audible Alarms
Employer Safety Training and Supervision
Perception / Reaction Time
Ergonomic Work Practices
Working and Walking Surfaces - Slip, Trip and Fall
In 2005 a summary of "General Duty Clause" citations issued for ergonomic hazards was published (Purswell & Purswell, 2005). That summary showed that the primary area of ergonomics citation activity under the "General Duty Clause" (paragraph (5)(a)(1) of the OSHAct of 1970) by OSHA to that point had been concentrated in nursing homes, peaking in 2002 and 2003.
The purpose of the current study was to update and expand upon an earlier study performed to review and categorize OSHA accident investigation records for pedestrian-backing vehicle accidents according to whether the backing vehicle had a backup alarm and whether the alarm was installed and functioning as intended. The current study includes an analysis of additional records as well as the business type (SIC code) of the employer.
John L. Ryan, BSME, P.E. is a Mechanical Engineer who provides general Mechanical and Structural Engineering expertise. Mechanical and Safety Engineering (MASE) provides full service analysis and accident reconstruction of products involved in accidents.
Mr. Ryan's services have been requested for attorneys and insurance companies needing forensic engineering expert witness testimony to determine whether machinery and products involved in injury cases were adequately designed or whether they have a Design, Manufacturing, or Material Defect. All products are lab-tested on site to determine adherence to industry standards and engineering design protocol. Alternate preventative designs are developed when none exist commercially.
Mr. Ryan is available for both Plaintiff and Defense, depending on the individual case. His services include producing high quality reports and visual aids in the courtroom such as scale models to help explain accident scenarios and alternate designs to judges and juries.
Tree stand accidents occur frequently during hunting season, causing a variety of injuries from broken bones to paralysis and death. Tree stand accidents involve a variety of causes, including falls from the tree stand, collapse of the tree stand, fires, self inflicted gunshot wounds, and asphyxiation. A study by the Center for Disease Control examined hunting accidents from 1979-1989. 214 of 594 deer hunting related accidents involved tree stands. 52% of these tree stand accidents were due to falls from the stand, 32% were due to collapse of the tree stands.
This issue of Forensic Clues is the second installment of an examination of ladder accidents. Last month we explored stepladders, this month we will be discussing extension ladders. Ladder accidents are a very common occurrence. Over half a million people annually seek medical attention due to ladder accidents. Over three hundred people are killed yearly in these often preventable accidents. This is a serious problem.
Ladder accidents occur frequently, often with very serious consequences. Ladders are tools that people use repeatedly, at home and on the job. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) states that there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries annually due to ladders in the United States.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 1,600 and 2,000 amputations occur annually due to power press operation. Another 18,000 people receive less serious injuries annually. Injury statistics compiled by OSHA for the years 1975 through 1983 confirm these figures. These numbers are alarming and unnecessarily high. Power presses can be used safely when the presses are properly designed to minimize the hazard that the operator is exposed to.
Every year there are thousands of debilitating injuries and deaths on farms. Many of these are related to power take-off's (PTO's). PTO shafts are used to power various farming implements, from mowers, hay balers, augers, and many other types of farming machinery. The PTO shaft was invented in the 1930's. The PTO shaft is essentially a shaft powered by the tractor engine that rotates at high speeds, providing power for a wide array of implements. While this provides a convenient source of power to drive farm implements, serious accidents can occur due to entanglement in PTO's. PTO's must be properly equipped with guards including master shields which covers the stub shaft and universal joint. These shields prevent inadvertent contact with the rotating machinery. Contact with unshielded rotating PTO parts can instantly pull a person into the PTO, causing catastrophic damage.
Rock and ice climbing have become increasingly popular in recent years. Climbing is now a popular form of exercise and adventure, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately the greater numbers involved in the sport has led to greater number of accidents. Climbing gyms have brought climbing to areas without outdoor rock resources. These indoor gyms use artificial holds to simulate rock walls. Indoor climbing gyms typically have climbs ranging from twenty feet to fifty feet, or more. Bouldering areas are shorter in height, with adequate padding to protect climbers from falls without the need for ropes.
While many accidents involving products are the result of a product defect that leads to injury of the product user, accidents can also be the result of a failure caused by lack of maintenance or inspection. This issue of Clues will examine the theory behind failure to maintain accidents, as well as provide examples of common accidents that are due to a lack of maintenance.
Material science is a broad field that has applications in numerous fields. In product injury cases, material science can help identify defects, determine causes of accidents, determine failure modes, and identify inconsistent manufacturing processes.
No one likes to see children get hurt, especially when it could be prevented. Poor design, manufacturing defects, material defects, assembly errors, and the lack of a hazard analysis can result in hazardous products that injure people. Many products are put in stores that may have never been looked at by a design engineer and/or a safety specialist.
Fishing and boating accidents result in thousands of injuries each year. The U.S. Coast Guard reported 3331 injuries and 709 fatalities due to boating accidents on both recreational and commercial vessels. There are many causes for these accidents, including collisions with objects or other vessels, drowning, electrical and mechanical failures, interaction with unguarded machinery, and others. There are various acts and laws that govern accidents at sea. This issue of Forensic Clues will examine some of the preventable accidents caused by defective machinery and equipment that occur at sea, and a brief overview of the laws and regulations affecting product liability litigation related to maritime accidents.
Paintball is a fun activity for all ages, and can be a safe sport if proper precautions are made. Serious eye injury can occur if a paintball impacts the eyeball, making goggles and facemask a requisite part of paintball. Accidents happen in backyard paintball games most frequently, but also at commercial paintball operations. This Clues will examine the typical preventable paintball accidents, as well as examine product failures that can lead to accidents while playing paintball.
Accident reconstruction involves attempting to determine the sequence of events of an accident and is a crucial part of product liability cases. Understanding exactly what occurred in an accident gives an engineer the best chance of preventing the accident from occurring again. Often there is limited information to base conclusions on what really happened in an accident. Understanding what goes into accident reconstruction will help attorneys understand what information is crucial to this process. Witness testimony is unreliable at best but must be analyzed and cross referenced with the other available information.
Lawnmowers cause over 50,000 emergency-room visits every year, based on NEISS data on consumer product injuries. These injuries are distributed evenly between ride-on and walk-behind style mowers. The necessary cutting action of a mower results in an inherent hazard, until technology is developed that can cut grass but not living tissue. While various safety advances over the years have reduced the amount of injuries, the extremely high number of accidents related to mowers that continue to occur show the need for further enhancement of product safety.
Machine guarding accidents cause many accidents and fatalities every year, despite the availability of modern safety technology. In the years from 1992-1996, one study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported annual injuries due to workers being caught in machinery of 34,350. In 2012 contact with an object or equipment had the second highest workplace fatality rate at 712 deaths.
OSHA was created through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA's mission is to ensure worker safety by creating and enforcing safety and health standards. OSHA does many good things to help maintain a safe workplace, but manufacturers often try to hide behind the shield of OSHA, putting blame on an employer for unsafe machinery or working conditions, when often the machinery was never safe to begin with. Some standards promote safety and some standards protect the manufacturer from product liability law suits. Most industrial standards are voluntary, unless they are specifically referenced in a Code of Federal Regulations / OSHA standard. OSHA standards are Federally mandated and are enforced by the Federal government.
Stored energy is accumulated energy, which can release suddenly, potentially causing serious injury or death. Stored energy has many forms, including pressurized gases and liquids, stored mechanical energy, stored electrical energy, and gravitational potential energy. Stored energy is particularly dangerous because the hazard still exists when the original source of energy is removed. This issue of Clues will explain the various forms of hazardous stored energy, how these energies can cause damage or injuries, and how to prevent stored energy accidents.
Table saw accidents occur frequently, often resulting in serious accidents when the operator comes in contact with the saw blade. The difficulties in guarding table saw blades with conventional guarding techniques often leads to ineffective guards that are removed by saw operators due to their lack of function and flexibility.
A significant number of elderly persons experience falls every year. In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries involving elderly people were treated in emergency rooms around the country. In the same year, 21,700 elderly people died as the result of unintentional falls. Falls for elderly people are extremely hazardous as they may not recover from fractures and other injuries.
Product Liability Reform has affected many attorneys, consumers, and experts negatively while failing in its goal of greater American competitiveness. This issue of Forensic Clues is dedicated to addressing the problems of tort reform, how this affects you, and what you as an attorney can do to reduce your costs and increase your chances of a successful product liability case, assuming that the case involves a legitimate product defect.
A recent failure of a ski lift in Wisconsin has received much media attention. While accidents such as these are rare, they do occur. Much more frequent are accidents involving collisions with other people or objects. This issue of Forensic Clues will examine the types of accidents that occur on the mountains.
Powered winches are in use in a variety of applications, some of the most common include vehicle-mounted electric winches, marine vessel winches, marine recovery winches, industrial winches and chain hoists. Accidents occur in all types of winch uses.
Between 1982 and 1996, 2,795 people died riding all-terrain vehicles, ATV's. This was found in a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Over thirty percent of the riders killed were under the age of sixteen.
In 2007, an estimated 15,147 lives were saved from seat belt use. Seat belts save five times more lives than airbags, according to statistics released by NHTSA. Seat belt use has increased over the years, due to cultural trends, and possibly due to the enactment of seat belt use laws. Seat belt systems do not always function as predicted. Seat belt systems can fail during a collision, often resulting in serious injury or death to the vehicle occupant.
Farming is a dangerous occupation. Tractor rollover accidents have been killing people since the 1920's. In 1990, the National Safety Council estimated 460 people were killed while operating tractors. Tractor rollover caused 239 of these fatalities. Another estimate suggests a more conservative number of annual fatalities - 132, that are the result of tractor rollover accidents. In a four-year period in Pennsylvania alone, 72 people died as a result of tractor rollover accidents.
Automobile collisions result in damage to property and injuries to people. Compensation is sought through insurance claims, law suits, and product liability claims. Knowing when injuries are more or less severe than is warranted by the damage level involved in the collision is important information. This can help people involved on both sides of litigation or settlements.
Warning labels are an indelible part of our society. Warning labels are everywhere - on our food, on our drinks, on our sweeteners, on our cars, on our tools, on our cigarettes. As consumers we are constantly barraged with multitudes of warnings, cautions, don't do this's, don't do that's.
Safety Engineering Resources has had the opportunity to learn a great deal about using fiberglass in structural applications, which are simply applications that must support some sort of load. Using fiberglass as a structural material was brought about by the advances made by organic chemists in recent decades in the field of plastics.
Structural failures of buildings range from catastrophic building failures involving mass loss of life and/or property to structural problems such as sagging floors or ceilings, leaning walls, cracking or sinking foundations.
Golf cart accident frequency has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. A study by Watson, Mehan, Smith, and McKenzie (Golf Cart-Related Injuries in the U.S., American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2008) of NEISS data found 147,696 people were treated in emergency rooms for golf cart accidents between 1990 and 2006.
Knowing when a personal injury case is due to the action or inaction of another party, or when responsibility falls fully on the injured party, can be a difficult distinction to make. At Mechanical and Safety Engineering, we have been investigating personal injury cases for decades.
Julian Forbes-Laird is a Chartered Arboriculturist, Arboricultural Association Registered Consultant, experienced Expert Witness and Principal Consultant of Forbes-Laird Arboricultural Consultancy Ltd. Mr. Forbes-Laird has a professional practice working throughout the UK and overseas. He covers all aspects of arboriculture, specializing in planning, tree safety and litigation related matters.
Mr. Forbes-Laird is supported by a team of regionally based consultants, giving him national and international reach. He sets the standard for client service, works throughout the UK and abroad, provides commercially realistic strategic advice, prepares sensitive yet practical management plans, works within project design teams to evolve arboriculturally defensible layouts, wins planning appeals, and handles an enormous amount of work under pressing deadlines helping clients' achieve the best outcome.
Mr. Forbes-Laird is widely recognised as an authority on legal issues pertaining to trees and is an experienced Expert Witness. His expert services include Pre-Action Case Evaluation, TPO Prosecutions, Forensic Accident Investigation and Tree Root Damage to Buildings. Other Services Include:
Ellis Litigation Support (ELS) is headed by Dr. J. Nigel Ellis a leading authority on fall protection. Dr. Ellis has more than 40 years of safety engineering experience. Based upon his unsurpassed experience and knowledge, Dr. Ellis has performed fall hazard assessments in hundreds of facilities and construction sites and has been retained as an expert witness in approximately 1000 fall-related cases nationwide. Dr. Ellis’ participation has led to multi-million dollar settlements/awards in a number of cases and exoneration of defendants in others.
Through his work with OSHA and as an ANSI and ASTM committee member, including providing comments and testimony before OSHA hearings, Dr. Ellis has been instrumental in the development of various OSHA regulations and ANSI standards. Dr. Ellis has written the seminal textbook, Introduction to Fall Protection currently in its fourth edition and published by the American Society of Safety Engineers and available for purchase on the ELS web site www.FallSafety.com.
Dr. Ellis is a founder and board member of the International Society for Fall Protection and is a frequent speaker at the national conventions of the American Society of Safety Engineers and the National Safety Council. Dr. Ellis also is a published member of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers and is a regular contributor to Compliance Magazine the Greyhouse Safet Directory.
ELS also draws upon its sister company, Ellis Fall Safety Solutions (EFSS), to offer expertise in a wide range of engineering related matters.
ELS Areas of Expertise:
Fall Protection – all areas where fall hazards exist
OSHA, ANSI and related building codes, standards and regulations
The general industry, construction and maritime standards each have their own requirement for fall protection. A written fall protection plan, a method for updating the written plan and a property means of assessment should all be included in your company's fall protection plan. The following checklist provides guidelines for proper assessment of your fall protection plan.
Jason S. Kiddy, PhD, PE, CFEI, is a principal at Aither Forensics Engineering, LLC, a forensics consulting firm located in Maryland. Dr. Kiddy spent over 20 years in various industries prior to becoming a full-time expert witness. He has broad industry experience in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from which to draw extensive knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Dr. Kiddy holds eight U.S. and four foreign patents. His work experience includes the following industries:
Oil and Gas - Aircraft and Helicopter Design - Marine Structures - Telecommunications
Dr. Kiddy has expertise in mechanical design, mechanical systems, hydraulics/pneumatics, plumbing / HVAC systems, corrosion, codes and standards, and warnings / instructions. He also has substantial experience in intellectual property matters ranging from invention disclosures, patent prosecution, and continuing through IP disputes. From a product design standpoint, Dr. Kiddy's experience includes all aspects of a product life cycle such as early stage R&D, product development and qualification, manufacturing, quality control, and failure analysis.
Litigation Support - Dr. Kiddy regularly assists both plaintiff and defense parties with extremely competitive rates, timely service, and expert advice. As an expert witness, he has supported dozens of matters including opining on such topics as: product liability, construction defects, industrial equipment, premise maintenance and liability (slips, trips, and falls), and heavy equipment.
Daniel J. Maple, is an ASCARegistered Consulting Arborist, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, ISA Municipal Specialist, ASCATree & Plant Appraisal Qualified (TPAQ), ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ), Qualified Tree Farm Inspector, Commercial UAV Airman Pilot, and a Commercial Applicator. Litigation Support - As an expert witness, Daniel J. Maple is well respected for his ability to document evidence, superior communication skills, forensic investigations, and pragmatism. He is articulate and knowledgeable under cross-examination. Mr. Maple's services are available to attorneys representing both plaintiff and defendant. Areas of Expertise: