New ASTM Committee E58 to Develop Standards That Support Engineering Investigations and Assist the Court
ASTM International, one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations (SDO) in the world, today announced the formation of ASTM Committee E58 on Forensic Engineering. Committee E58 will develop standards that promote awareness of the scientific, engineering, ethical and legal considerations inherent in forensic engineering investigations, reporting and testimony.
Bringing Engineering Reason to the Dispute Resolution Process
Forensic engineering focuses on the investigation of alleged defects in materials, products, structures and components. These cases are litigated on the premise that the defects cause personal injury or damage to property. Forensic engineering investigations may help determine the causes of these events and assist the disputing parties or the court in resolving the case. Today, forensic engineers are involved in a broad range of investigations across numerous engineering disciplines, including aerospace, biomechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, fire, industrial, manufacturing, transportation and many others.
Assisting the Court through Consensus Standards
ASTM Committee E58 comes together to create important standards and guides that will support the judicial process by facilitating an improved understanding of forensic engineering practices and associated technical issues. This will better enable the court to resolve disputes in a more well-informed and efficient manner, relying on deeper knowledge of the technical data presented and the sound engineering analysis and testimony of forensic engineers.
Adam K. Aleksander Ph.D, P.E., chair of Committee E58 says, “ASTM Committee E58 will focus on the responsibilities of the forensic engineer, and specifically to protect the safety and welfare of the general population, provide professional assistance to the court and its officers, and to uphold the highest standards of engineering practice. Judges and juries rely on technical experts in their deliberations. E58 will assist them with guidelines that may help them evaluate the necessary attributes of experts. E58 however, will not and cannot prescribe the professional methods or content of the expert’s testimony.”
E58 Standards: Guiding Forensic Engineering Practice
E58 standards will help guide forensic engineers in conducting investigations in a robust manner while protecting overall public safety. The initial scope of Committee E58 activities will be driven by subcommittees on Product Defect Incidents, Vehicular Incidents, Electrical Incidents and Industrial Processes. ASTM Committee E58 will build upon the body of work of former subcommittee E30.05 on Forensic Engineering. Existing E30.05 standards will move under the jurisdiction of Committee E58 and will be reviewed for consistency with the scope and mission of the new main committee.
Foundation Standard for the Forensic Engineering Profession
Other E58 standards will bolster the role of forensic engineering professionals in the eyes of the court and other users of these services. Consistent with this objective, Committee E58 has recently drafted a general practice document for the forensic engineering profession, titled Standard Guide for the Practice of Forensic Engineering. The goal of this standard is to further educate the court about forensic engineering, the typical elements of its practice and the roles and qualifications of engineers.
Feedback, comments and questions should be directed to Tim Brooke, ASTM assistant vice president of technical committee operations (phone: 610-832-9729; firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.astm.org/COMMIT/E58.htm.