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Forensic Investigation and Consulting Services during COVID-19 international travel restrictions

Posted on Thursday, 3 September 2020

By Chris Kenyon-Edwards

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has placed restrictions on the day-to-day operations of many businesses around the world, and the effects have been particularly evident within the businesses that rely upon international air travel and those that involve the maritime industry.

Despite these restrictions, Burgoynes remains fully committed to providing our clients with advice and expertise in order to assist with incidents of a technical nature that might arise.  One of the many benefits of our worldwide locations is that our team of investigators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Current travel restrictions such as country-specific COVID-19 testing and mandatory quarantines, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, provide a unique hurdle for us and our clients to overcome.  However, in our experience, where international travel is not possible, investigations and live incidents can often be handled remotely by an appropriate expert, with suitable local support ‘on the ground’.  

Whilst each investigation is unique, and there is often no substitute for the attendance of an experienced investigator to conduct detailed scene inspections, in many instances we are able to draw upon our wealth of experience to formulate well-founded preliminary conclusions on the causes of losses, based upon a review of scene photographs, operating data, remote interviews of witnesses, and examination of evidence that can be sent to us for laboratory examination.

Examples of such work we have conducted in the marine industry include:

  • Investigation and advice on controlling incidents of self-heating of marine cargoes (including coal, Direct Reduced Iron (DRI), charcoal, scrap metals, and agricultural products);
  • Live advice for developing marine incidents (e.g. advice on fire-fighting and incident control, ventilation of cargoes emitting flammable gases etc.);
  • Advice on the carriage and packaging of Dangerous Goods (DG) cargoes, and arrangements for laboratory analysis to identify suspected DG cargoes;
  • Investigation of cargo disputes involving the quality of, or damage to, agricultural cargoes such as soya beans, including advice on sampling protocols and cargo analysis;
  • Advice on the prevention of, and/or investigation into incidents of, cargo liquefaction;
  • Alleged chemical contamination claims involving bulk liquid and solid cargoes, and bunker disputes;
  • Investigation into mechanical failures (e.g. of wire ropes and cranes, hatch covers, valves, hoses and engine components), and metallurgical and material science investigations (e.g. failure or damage to paint coatings, corrosion of tanks, cargo lines and holds etc.).  Where appropriate, failed or damaged components can be recovered locally and then sent to us for detailed laboratory examination and testing.

Furthermore, the experts within Burgoynes are available for the remote investigation of a wide variety of land-based incidents worldwide.  In addition to our core expertise of carrying out investigations into incidents involving fires, explosions, material and mechanical failures, recent examples of remotely-investigated incidents include:

  • Product quality disputes within the industrial chemical, biological, and petrochemical industries;
  • Process and/or control failures of industrial plant and machinery;
  • Temperature excursions and thermal runaways in catalysed reactors;
  • Personal injuries resulting from electrical accidents, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide poisoning;  
  • Failures of electrical equipment; 

We invite clients requiring any further information or, in those instances where international travel is not possible, advice concerning the possibility of remote investigation of any technical incidents, to please contact one of our offices, where our experts would be happy to discuss the possibilities.