Testing, quality of data and its accurate analysis, and determination of causation factors and an ultimate root cause can be significant parts of an incident investigation. As an Associate Member of the American Bar Association, David Gossman, BS, MS, FAIC, CFEI, President, Gossman Consulting, Inc. and Chief Investigating Officer of Gossman Forensics, can provide expert interdisciplinary technical assistance to legal counsel in litigation involving chemical and environmental forensics, hazardous waste materials, laboratory testing, hazardous materials handling, regulatory compliance, fires and explosions, accidents at hazardous waste management facilities and injury or chemical exposure claims due to hazardous materials or hazardous materials operations. Gossman Forensics can provide the technical expertise and develop the evidentiary basis for legal arguments relying on or involving-
• Industrial and environmental chemical forensic analysis
• Hazard analysis, root cause analysis, and/or HAZOPs
• Causation proved by fate and transport of chemicals and their degradation products in the environment.
o Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) - management, testing, QC and environmental fate
o Dioxin (polychlorinated dibenzodioxin and polychlorinated dibenzofuran) emissions and sources in the environment
•Appropriate standard of care for management of hazardous waste and hazardous materials
•Analytical chemistry and proper quality assurance / quality control (QA/QC)
•Safety and prevention of catastrophic events at industrial facilities such as fires and explosions
•Prevention of injury or chemical exposure resulting from hazardous materials or hazardous materials operations
•Fire and/or explosion investigations including origin and cause determination
•Prevention of chemical spills and/or proper management of historical environmental contamination
Causation can be thought of the connection of one process (a cause – human error, or failure of equipment, design, or system procedure) to another process (the effect – fire, explosion, chemical exposure, or other catastrophic event), where the first process is at least partly responsible for the second, and the second process is dependent on the first. A process may have multiple causes, and multiple effects.
Causation looks at the role of one variable in influencing another. Root cause analysis seeks to discover a single, underlying, original cause for a process failure or occurrence; causation analysis looks at the relationships existing among the parts of the process and examines avenues of outcomes and events.
You already have reams and stacks of test data. It is just as important to know how valid and defensible that data is.
Through years of experience, Gossman Forensics has come to know that just because testing meets established QA/QC criteria does not automatically mean that that data necessarily represents reality. We are aware of test methods approved and required by government agencies which in fact give false values even when performed to the highest degree of accuracy and precision of the method. In some cases, this situation occurs because the regulatory agency has mistakenly applied methods to applications and matrices for which they were never truly validated.
Our personnel have many years of study, training, and experience with the practical application of data quality reviews, specifically providing expert witness testimony on testing and test data. As an example, our personnel are experienced at taking valid test and operational data and performing mass balance calculations on process systems, thus supporting an understanding of the processes so that you can confidently undertake operational or environmental improvements.
At times, large sets of data require careful assembly into a database. Our staff includes a skilled database programmer that can build the database to make it truly useful and transparent.
This area of sound scientific understanding meeting practical application is where we can provide some of the most beneficial services. Have the background and experience to review routine QA/QC activities and the experience to ensure strong practical validations. You have important questions about test data- is it valid? does it meet the need? what can it tell us? Gossman Forensics can provide your answers to these questions.
Gossman Forensics has the proven experience to solve all types of QA/QC data problems with such programs as environmental field sampling and analysis, analytical laboratory sample preparation, analysis and reporting, process data reporting, stack testing and reporting, CEM operations and testing, new regulation evaluations, and litigation or expert witness testimony. The experience is proven based on the many successful and approved operations plans, that include QA/QC, currently in use that Gossman Forensics personnel have developed, implemented, or contributed oversight to. The experience is also proven by many successful regulatory reviews and expert witness testimonies that we have provided to clients and that included QA/QC evaluations.
Root cause analysis is the process of probing, identifying and evaluating the underlying factor or condition that may have caused the occurrence of an incident such as fires, explosion, or chemical release. "Origin and cause" is the phrase often used for this type of investigation. Specific techniques are used, such as fault tree analysis which uses logical and graphical means with a specific set of rules to model possible combinations of events which can lead to an adverse incident. Fault tree analysis techniques can be used to find the root cause of an event as a preventative measure during system design, or in the investigation after an undesirable event.
Forensic scientists are often charged with identifying how and why an incident occurred through root cause analysis. A thorough root cause analysis for fire and explosion incidents is performed using the guidelines and techniques from NFPA 921. Uncovering the root cause of an event is an integral part of identifying the contributing factors and proximate causes of occurrences such as fires and/or explosions.
The importance of synthesis in testing, analysis, and quality control cannot be overestimated. Oversight of the entire progression of examination and assessment involved in material chemical investigations, including joint testing, requires an appreciation of the interconnectedness of all disciplines involved in order to assure that the resulting conclusions are sound and justifiable. Gossman Forensics can oversee the entire process of forensic investigation to ensure that the right tests are done on the right samples in the right manner. Polymer Solutions is one of the quality labs we utilize during investigations.