Tel: 020 7726 49 51 (24 hours)
Email: postmaster@burgoynes.com

FORENSIC POLYMER ENGINEER

Introduction

We presently have a vacancy for an experienced Materials Engineer who has a strong background in Polymer Science and/or Polymer Engineering, and who has practical hands-on experience of the investigation of polymer component failures, polymer testing and analysis, as well as a wider range of materials and engineering related incidents.

The role will involve the forensic investigation of a wide range of incidents and accidents arising from the engineering failure of a single component or an assembly of components, including those manufactured from polymers. These investigations will usually be undertaken for insurance related purposes. Our clients include international insurers, loss adjusters, solicitors, marine Protection and Indemnity clubs and insurance brokers. Our clients require clear and accurate technical advice regarding the cause of the incident or accident and assistance with determining liability, sometimes at very short notice.

The Nature of the Work

If you are looking for a routine laboratory or an office based position then this is definitely not the job for you. We are offering you a rare opportunity to enter a unique and very rewarding profession in which the variety and the nature of the technically focussed work is extremely diverse and challenging, thus providing you with what we consider is unrivalled job satisfaction. A key attraction of this role is that you will often have the opportunity to be responsible for seeing a technical investigation through from beginning to end from initially collecting the evidence on site to preparing the final technical report and ultimately you may be required to give expert witness evidence in Court.

You will have the opportunity to investigate a wide range of incidents and accidents involving the engineering failure of components of all types in a wide range of applications. The entirely unpredictable nature and location of the work are key attractions of this role.

Your work will often require you to visit the location of an incident, sometimes at short notice, to record and gather evidence. The work will often require you to examine and analyse engineering components and other physical evidence in a laboratory environment. There is also a practical element to the job in that on occasions you will be required to carefully dismantle machinery, equipment or component assemblies in a systematic manner to obtain the evidence that you require to determine the cause of the failure. This practical aspect of the work also extends to the requirement to devise and undertake ad hoc mechanical tests, as and when the need arises.

The list below provides an overview of the various aspects of the job:

  • Conducting site-based investigations to record and gather the available physical evidence.
  • Obtaining details regarding the background and circumstances surrounding the incident by interviewing individuals associated with the incident.
  • Undertaking telephone enquiries of equipment suppliers and manufacturers to obtain the required technical information.
  • Reviewing technical documentation that may comprise engineering drawings, operating manuals and maintenance records.
  • Consulting relevant standards, regulations and other published guidance.
  • Undertaking technical literature reviews.
  • Providing the client with timely preliminary verbal and/or written advice in a form that can be readily understood by a layperson and ultimately a Judge.
  • Conducting detailed visual and low magnification examinations of failed components, which will often include recording and interpreting fractographic evidence in a non destructive manner.
  • Conducting detailed laboratory based examinations and analyses of failed components.
  • Mechanical testing of components or materials.
  • Devising and conducting ad hoc testing of components, equipment or machinery.
  • Preparing reports that may be in the form of a brief letter style report or in the form of a detailed, illustrated report for Court proceedings.
  • Attending client meetings to discuss your investigation.
  • Meetings with experts appointed by the other involved parties as part of the litigation process.
  • Providing expert witness evidence in Court, which will involve being questioned in depth by a Barrister, who will be briefed by a technical expert.

Incident Examples

Provided below are a few examples of the types of polymer and materials related investigations that have been undertaken by Burgoynes, which serve to illustrate the diversity of the work that you will encounter.

  • The collapse of a large polyethylene chemical storage tank.

  • The collapse of a galvanised steel storage silo caused by corrosion.

  • The failure of an elastomeric seal resulting in an escape of fluid from a valve assembly.

  • The collapse of a large glass reinforced plastic tank used to store acid.

  • The fracture failure of an ABS pipe used to convey drinking water from a booster pump set within an apartment building.

  • The stress corrosion induced fracture of a brass fitting at chilled water pipework.

  • The bursting failure of a rubber lined hydraulic hose on a road-going vehicle resulting in an escape of hydraulic fluid that caused a serious road traffic accident.

  • A water escape caused by the rupture of a plastic water pipe due to localised overheating resulting from the malfunction of a centrifugal pump.
  • The collapse of a steel crane boom that was precipitated by fatigue crack growth from a weld defect.
  • The separation of a fusion welded polymer pipe joint associated with a large diameter underground sprinkler system water main.
  • The fracture failure of a plastic connection nut associated with a plastic WC cistern inlet valve that resulted in a water escape.

Our Requirements

This position is a technically demanding, challenging and most rewarding role requiring not only a thorough understanding of the nature and behaviour of polymeric materials but also a strong general materials and engineering knowledge base.

Ideally you will:

  • Have attained a good honours degree in polymer science/engineering or materials science/engineering.
  • Have gained several years of postgraduate experience in a polymer related industrial environment.
  • Have an aptitude and enthusiasm for problem solving.
  • Be self-motivated and be able to work effectively under pressure.
  • Have experience of undertaking polymer component failure investigations, which will have included undertaking fractographic examinations and polymer testing and analysis.
  • Have a practical engineering ability in addition to a strong academic record.
  • Have the ability to communicate technical concepts clearly, both verbally and in writing, to others less informed than yourself.
  • Be prepared to work unpredictable hours, as and where the work demands.
  • Be prepared to provide expert witness evidence in Court when required. 

Training and Prospects

Comprehensive “on-the-job” type training in the conduct of forensic investigations and the preparation of reports for our insurance and legal clients will mostly be provided in-house and will be supplemented on occasion by external courses. Career advancement and reward are based on ability and attitude. There may be opportunities subsequently to transfer to other offices overseas.

Package

We offer unrivalled job satisfaction and a highly competitive starting salary with unparalleled prospects. Benefits include five weeks holiday, a contributory pension scheme, medical insurance, life assurance, permanent health insurance and a company car. Where appropriate a relocation package is available. The London Office appointment has London weighting.

Application

Further information and application forms are available from recruitment@burgoynes.com (please include your postal address) or alternatively write to Sue Ambrose-Kemp, Burgoyne Management Ltd, 11-12 Half Moon Court, Bartholomew Close, London, EC1A 7HF.