Introduction to forensic engineering
4 A ladder accident
With incidents where a product or process failure is suspected, a recollection of events often helps. A recollection brings together the known facts, and puts them in a logical sequence. It is a useful, if theoretical, exercise because putting events into a chronological sequence can throw up unexpected problems, which must then be answered. If the existing hypothesis cannot explain all the known facts, a fresh hypothesis may need to be constructed. However, a practical or experimental reconstruction can be even more valuable if it throws up new and unsuspected features of an incident. This is what happened in the incident considered in this case.
The case study in this section deals with a ladder accident and a practical reconstruction of the circumstances. Ladder accidents are common both on industrial and in domestic premises. Official statistics indicate it is one of the most common causes of sudden death in accidents in the home, especially among elderly men.