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Keith Birkitt

Principal Materials Engineer

Keith Birkitt

Keith is a Principal Materials Scientist with HSE's Science Division working on forensic materials-related incident investigations. He has over 23 years' experience of incident investigations and is a welding specialist.

The range of investigations Keith undertakes includes; wire ropes, bolts, lifting equipment, work at height equipment, failed welds, pipework and pressure vessels, involving a wide range of failure mechanisms. His work encompasses all the common engineering metals and alloys, polymers and composites. Keith has fabrication experience, ranging from sheet metal to pressure vessels and heavy engineering. Keith has knowledge and experience of cast irons, carbon steels, low alloy steels, stainless steels, nickel alloys, copper alloys, aluminium alloys and titanium.

Part of Keith's role includes providing training and technical support to Inspectors, which can involve auditing and research. He conducts products assessments for conformance to European and Industry standards. His work has informed safety alerts, product recalls, issues of national concern, and provided evidence in court.


Research Interests

  • Materials related hydrogen safety
  • Corrosion
  • Welding Technology
  • Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)
  • Work at Height Safety

Previous Projects

  • Investigation into a Microbiologically Induced Corrosion (MIC) Failure of an Onshore Pipeline - Hazards31 Conference 2021
  • Fatigue initiated by poor quality welding of wheel sets from a rollercoaster ride
  • Galvanic corrosion of a mobile crane access ladder

  • Structural steelwork collapse of a five storey building caused by welding and fabrication errors, which contributed to a SCOSS Safety Alert

  • Circumferential joggle butt welds failures of hydro-tested carbon steel LPG vessels

  • Examination of 10 tonne axle stands following a sudden collapse

  • Assessment of welds from aluminium road tankers. An issue of national concern

Notable Achievements

  • BSc (Hons) Metallurgy
  • MSc Welding Technology
  • Chartered Engineer, CEng
  • Member of the Welding Institute, MWeldI. European and International Welding Engineer
  • Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, FIMMM

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