Public Safety and Public welfare is one of the ethical issues governing the field of engineering. It is the responsibility of every engineer and employer in the field of engineering to ensure that safety is upheld to the highest standards. Public safety and awareness is instrumental in the success of any business establishment. According to the code enforcement which was adapted from NSPE Cases No. 95-5, there are more strict measures aimed at promoting greater public safety than the last codes. However, this code also contributes to more difficulty as the inspectors have to do a more thorough job during the inspection.
According to the original case and BER judgment, an engineer is in the position of having to trade one safety concern for another. I have chosen this case since the issue of public safety has been neglected for quite some time especially with various engineers involved in the design work. However, it is a very critical point that requires urgent attention since the success of any engineering setup depends on their response to this issue.
As we review this case, there are some elements of the NSPE code that are in question as per the case considered. For instance the whistle blowing aspect by the City Engineer may not easily work since the supervisor is the one in charge of all the operations conducted by the City Engineer. Even though it is prudent to raise alarm when there is an issue that has erupted, the city engineer should first address the issue with the supervisor before letting it leak to the public domain.
Engineer’s dispute with client over design is also one of the issues that could arise when dealing with these issues. When an engineer has a dispute with a client over design or in possession of some damaging information, the engineer should ensure that all these issues are adequately addressed before they are leaked to the public. According to the BER judgment withholding some crucial information may cause more damage that if the issue could have been addressed in good time before the effects are widely felt.
The BER judgment is against the fact that engineers continue to work with clients who violate the public safety and welfare elements. The judgment instead proposes for a termination of any contract with such clients and even in some cases withholding information from them. While this could be a good initiative by the responsible parties, a lot of care should be taken to ensure that no instance of damage crops up when the engineers are in negotiation with their clients.
Public safety and public awareness should be one of the top most agendas for engineers when they are designing their plants/enterprises. The engineers should strive to protect the public at all cost. Even though most of the BER judgments tend to favor this concept, there are some instances that it leaves issues related to public safety and welfare open and not properly attended to. Therefore it should be the responsibility of every engineer to ensure that all the laid down ethical measures are taken into consideration without any hitch in its implementation. This can help in boosting the efforts put forth to protect the public.
Harris Charles & Pritchard. Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases. New York. Cengage Learning Publishers, 2009. Print.
Lowe Jr. Ethics in engineering design. New York. Professional Engineering Publishers, 2003. Print.
Wolfe Harvey & Pinkus Rosa. Engineering Ethics: Balancing Cost, Schedule, and Risk – Lessons Learned from the Space Shuttle. New York. Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.