Case Studies

Forensic Investigation of Alleged QC Equipment Incident

A quality control inspector working alone on a section of pipeline was found dead by a co-worker. He had been inspecting for defects in the pipe coating prior to backfilling. After burial of the deceased without an autopsy, an Accumyn director conducted a review of the local operating company’s incident investigation which had concluded the inspector had been electrocuted by a holiday detector capable of producing 35,000 volts of electricity.

The review followed a standard investigation methodology: gather evidence, develop building blocks, construct the incident timeline, determine critical factors, and use a predefined tree to determine a root cause.  Since an investigation had already been done, evidence that had been gathered previously was augmented with new evidence.

Forensic analysis revealed that although the holiday detector produced a high voltage, it was not capable of delivering a fatal electrical current.  Burn marks on the leg were determined to have been caused by hot cooking oil and were not indicative of electrical burns.  Other environmental and personal health factors (heat stress, dietary fasting, fatigue) when combined with potential underlying health conditions, were determined to have resulted in the incident. The cause of death was concluded to have been non-work-related.