Our investigative approach is fundamentally a problem solving exercise using the ‘Scientific Method’ where the pattern of damage comes to be explained through physical, chemical and systems processes. It begins through observation, evidence collection and data assembly before developing problem statements that identify and isolate the independent and dependent variables. This is the basis of hypothesis formation which connects these variables to a predicted outcome. Testing the hypothesis is often limited to thought experiments as it is often the case that it is neither possible to replicate the circumstances of the initial failure nor isolate and control the identified variables.
In this instance it is critically important to ‘workshop’ these ‘experiments’ with subject matter experts, machine/equipment operators and other interested parties so that the conclusions drawn reflect the best available wisdom allowing the investigator to accept, reject or re-present a modified hypothesis to the ‘workshop’. A very important consideration here is that the resultant formal opinion of the investigator is that of the investigator alone and that it is based on the surviving hypothesis from a ‘scientific process’ that may involve many others in a collaborative problem solving approach.