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Proposed ASTM Guide for Investigating Electrical Incidents Being Developed by Forensic Engineering Committee


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.

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

Once it has been completed and approved, ASTM WK41392 will provide recommended practices for the following:
• Investigating electrical incidents;
• Collecting artifacts and information;
• Dealing with victims (both survivors and deceased); and
• Understanding the fundamentals of electrical systems.

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 ASTM 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. ASTM 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.

“ASTM 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 ASTM WK41392, particularly the following:

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

ASTM International welcomes participation in the development of its standards. For more information on becoming an ASTM member, visit

For more news in this sector, visit or follow us on Twitter @ASTMSafety.

ASTM Committee E58 Next Meeting: January 2014, in conjunction with National Academy of Forensic Engineers January meeting, Charlotte, S.C. (date to be determined)
Technical Contact: Johannes Laun, Professional Analysis and Consulting Inc., Sugar Grove, Ill., Phone: 630-466-4040;
ASTM Staff Contact: Kelly Paul, Phone: 610-832-9745;
ASTM PR Contact: Barbara Schindler, Phone: 610-832-9603;

Release #9433

July 30, 2013

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