Standardization News

Electrical Incident Investigation

Incidents involving electrical systems can result in injuries and fatalities that need to be safely and efficiently investigated and a proposed new ASTM guide will provide a basis for such investigations.

WK41392, Guide for Investigating Electrical Incidents, is being developed by Subcommittee E58.04 on Electrical Incidents, part of ASTM International E58 on Forensic Engineering.

Once it has been completed and approved, WK41392 will provide the following:

  • Recommended practices for investigating electrical incidents;
  • Recommended practices for collecting artifacts and information;
  • Recommended practices for dealing with victims (both survivors and deceased);
  • Understanding the fundamentals of electrical systems; and

Johannes Laun, senior engineer, Professional Analysis and Consulting Inc, and a member of E58, notes that experience with National Fire Protection Association 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations, has aided the subcommittee in the ongoing development of WK41392. However, the proposed guide's focus on investigating electrical incidents is something that is intentionally not covered in the NFPA guide.

"There is a definite need for providing information to first responders, investigators, engineers and others in properly maintaining their own safety, along with providing a useful and reasonably complete investigation of an electrical incident," says Laun. WK41392 will provide such a framework, including checklists, and aid in preparing for possible courtroom testimony on the reasonable completeness of the analysis and investigation of an incident.

"WK41392 will provide a foundation and points that should not be forgotten regarding an investigation so that investigators and responders stay safe and preservation of the facts is maximized," says Laun. "We want to help in preventing loss of information from the scene that would allow a clearer determination of what happened."

Laun notes that, once it has been approved, the proposed guide will be used by first responders, investigators, lawyers, insurance companies, laboratory personnel and courts of law. All interested parties are invited to participate in the development of WK41392, particularly the following:

  • Forensic/investigative engineers;
  • Attorneys;
  • Police/fire/emergency medical services first responders; and
  • Insurance company representatives.

CONTACT Technical Information: Johannes Laun, Professional Analysis and Consulting Inc. • Sugar Grove, Ill. • Phone: 630-466-4040 | ASTM Staff: Kelly Paul • Phone: 610-832-9745

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