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Professional Ethics in Civil

Engineering
CE – 403

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What is Professional Ethics?
• Moral philosophy.

• Recommends concepts of right and wrong


behavior for professionals practicing within a
profession.

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General subject areas of ethics
• Metaethics – concerned with origin of ethical
principles within the society.

• Applied ethics – deals with debatable,


controversial issues like animal rights, death
penalty, environmental concerns etc.

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• Normative ethics – concerned with practical
issues standards society sets to regulate right or
wrong behavior.

- international conflict can arise when normative


ethics differs between two countries. Examples –
Appropriate age to marry, how males treat
females in a particular society.

- Our focus would be on normative ethics where


practicing professionals set standards to regulate
right and wrong conduct.

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So, why is professional ethics is
important ?
• Illinois Institute of Technology—Center for the
Study of Ethics in the Professions

- The adoption of a code is significant for the


professionalization of an occupational group, because it is
one of the external hallmarks testifying to the claim that the
group recognizes an obligation to society that transcends
mere economic self-interest.

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• Michael Davis notes –

The code is to protect each professional from certain


pressures (for example, the pressure to cut corners to
save money) by making it reasonably likely . . . that
most other members of the profession will not take
advantage of oŶe͛s good conduct. A code protects
members of a profession from certain consequences
of competition. A code is a solution to a coordination
problem.

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• Davis gives four reasons why professionals should
support their professions code –

1. Supporting it will help protect them and those they


care about from being injured by what other
engineers do.

2. It would be easier to resist pressure for carrying out


unethical conduct.

3. Helps make their profession a practice for which they


need not be embarrassed.

4. Obligation of fairness to do his part, in generating


these benefits for all engineers.
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• To better grasp the concept of engineering
ethics, we can take a look at existing code of
ethics as accepted and followed by some
renowned organizations including –

1. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).


2. The National Society of Professional Engineers. ( NSPE).
3. The American Council of Engineering Companies.
(ACEC).
4. The international Federation of Consulting Engineers
(FIDIC).

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Some definitions
• Principles – fundamental and comprehensive doctrine
regarding behavior and conduct.

• Canons – Broad principles of conduct.

• Standards – more specific goals towards which


individuals should aspire in professional performance
and behavior.

• Rules of conduct – mandatory rules. Violation of one


is sufficient for disciplinary action. Rules can
implement more than one Canon or standard. 10
ASCE Code of ethics
• Fundamental Principles
To uphold and advance the integrity, honor
and dignity of the engineering profession by –

I. using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of


human welfare and the environment
II. being honest and impartial and serving the public, their
;eŶgiŶeeƌ͛sͿeŵploLJeƌs aŶd ĐlieŶts ǁ i th loLJaltLJ.
III. striving to increase the competence and prestige of the
engineering profession
IV. supporting the professional and technical societies of their
disciplines.
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I. Fundamental Canons
To fulfill their professional duties, Engineers must:
• Engineers shall hold paramount the safety,
health and welfare of the public and shall strive
to comply with the principles of sustainable
development in the performance of their
professional duties.

• Engineers shall perform services only in areas of


their competence.

• Engineers shall act in professional matters for


each employer or client as faithful agents or
trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest.
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I. Fundamental Canons
• Engineers shall build their professional reputation on the
merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly
with others.

• Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and


enhance the honor, integrity, and dignity of the
engineering profession and shall act with zero-tolerance
for bribery, fraud, and corruption.

• Engineers shall continue their professional development


throughout their careers, and shall provide opportunities
for the professional development of those engineers
under their supervision.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
Canon 1: Safety, health and welfare of the public and
compliance with the principles of sustainable development –

a. Engineers shall approve or seal only those design


documents, reviewed or prepared by them, which are
determined to be safe for public health and welfare in
conformity with accepted engineering standards.

b. Engineers whose professional judgment is overruled


under circumstances where the safety, health and
welfare of the public are endangered, or the
principles of sustainable development ignored, shall
inform their clients or employers of the possible
consequences.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
c. Engineers who have knowledge or reason to believe
that another person or firm may be in violation of any
of the provisions of Canon 1 shall present such
information to the proper authority in writing and shall
cooperate with the proper authority in furnishing such
further information or assistance as may be required.

d. Engineers should seek opportunities to be of


constructive service in civic affairs and work for the
advancement of the safety, health and well-being of
their communities, and the protection of the
environment through the practice of sustainable
development.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons

e.Engineers should be committed to improving


the environment by adherence to the
principles of sustainable development so as to
enhance the quality of life of the general
public.

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Guidelines to follow under Canons
Canon 2: Engineers shall perform services only in areas of
their competence –

a. Engineers shall undertake to perform engineering


assignments only when qualified by education or
experience in the technical field of engineering involved.

b. Engineers may accept an assignment requiring education


or experience outside of their own fields of competence,
provided their services are restricted to those phases of
the project in which they are qualified. All other phases of
such project shall be performed by qualified associates,
consultants, or employees.

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Guidelines to follow under Canons

c. Engineers shall not affix their signatures or


seals to any engineering plan or document
dealing with subject matter in which they lack
competence by virtue of education or
experience or to any such plan or document
not reviewed or prepared under their
supervisory control.

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Guidelines to follow under Canons
• Canon 3: Engineers shall issue public statements
only in an objective and truthful manner –
a. Engineers should endeavor to extend the public
knowledge of engineering and sustainable
development, and shall not participate in the
dissemination of untrue, unfair or exaggerated
statements regarding engineering.

b. Engineers shall be objective and truthful in


professional reports, statements, or testimony.
They shall include all relevant and pertinent
information in such reports, statements, or
testimony.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
c. Engineers, when serving as expert witnesses, shall
express an engineering opinion only when it is founded
upon adequate knowledge of the facts, upon a
background of technical competence, and upon honest
conviction.

d. Engineers shall issue no statements, criticisms, or


arguments on engineering matters which are inspired
or paid for by interested parties, unless they indicate
on whose behalf the statements are made.

e. Engineers shall be dignified and modest in explaining


their work and merit, and will avoid any act tending to
promote their own interests at the expense of the
integrity, honor and dignity of the profession.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
• Canon 4: Engineers shall act in professional matters
for each employer or client as faithful agents or
trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest –
a. Engineers shall avoid all known or potential conflicts
of interest with their employers or clients and shall
promptly inform their employers or clients of any
business association, interests, or circumstances
which could influence their judgment or the quality of
their services.

b. Engineers shall not accept compensation from more


than one party for services on the same project, or for
services pertaining to the same project, unless the
circumstances are fully disclosed to and agreed to, by
all interested parties.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
c. Engineers shall not solicit or accept gratuities, directly
or indirectly, from contractors, their agents, or other
parties dealing with their clients or employers in
connection with work for which they are responsible.

d. Engineers in public service as members, advisors, or


employees of a governmental body or department
shall not participate in considerations or actions with
respect to services solicited or provided by them or
their organization in private or public engineering
practice.

e. Engineers shall advise their employers or clients


when, as a result of their studies, they believe a
project will not be successful.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
f. Engineers shall not use confidential
information coming to them in the course of
their assignments as a means of making
personal profit if such action is adverse to the
interests of their clients, employers or the
public.

g. Engineers shall not accept professional


employment outside of their regular work or
interest without the knowledge of their
employers.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
Canon 5: Engineers shall build their professional
reputation on the merit of their services and shall not
compete unfairly with others –
a. Engineers shall not give, solicit or receive either
directly or indirectly, any political contribution,
gratuity, or unlawful consideration in order to secure
work, exclusive of securing salaried positions through
employment agencies.

b. Engineers should negotiate contracts for professional


services fairly and on the basis of demonstrated
competence and qualifications for the type of
professional service required.

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Guidelines to follow under Canons
c. Engineers may request, propose or accept
professional commissions on a contingent basis only
under circumstances in which their professional
judgments would not be compromised.

d. Engineers shall not falsify or permit misrepresentation


of their academic or professional qualifications or
experience.

e. Engineers shall give proper credit for engineering


work to those to whom credit is due, and shall
recognize the proprietary interests of others.
Whenever possible, they shall name the person or
persons who may be responsible for designs,
inventions, writings or other accomplishments.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
f. Engineers may advertise professional services in a
way that does not contain misleading language or is in
any other manner derogatory to the dignity of the
profession.

g. Engineers shall not maliciously or falsely, directly or


indirectly, injure the professional reputation,
prospects, practice or employment of another
eŶgiŶeeƌ oƌ iŶdisĐƌiŵiŶatelLJĐƌitiĐize aŶotheƌ͛s ǁ oƌk.

h. Engineers shall not use equipment, supplies,


laboratory or office facilities of their employers to
carry on outside private practice without the consent
of their employers.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and
enhance the honor, integrity, and dignity of the
engineering profession and shall act with zero-
tolerance for bribery, fraud, and corruption –
a. Engineers shall not knowingly engage in business or
professional practices of a fraudulent, dishonest or
unethical nature.

b. Engineers shall be scrupulously honest in their control


and spending of money, and promote effective use of
resources through open, honest and impartial service
with fidelity to the public, employers, associates and
clients. 27
Guidelines to follow under Canons
c. Engineers shall act with zero-tolerance for
bribery, fraud, and corruption in all
engineering or construction activities in
which they are engaged.

d. Engineers should be especially vigilant to


maintain appropriate ethical behavior where
payments of gratuities or bribes are
institutionalized practices.

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Guidelines to follow under Canons
e. Engineers should strive for transparency in
the procurement and execution of projects.
Transparency includes disclosure of names,
addresses, purposes, and fees or
commissions paid for all agents facilitating
projects.

f. Engineers should encourage the use of


certifications specifying zero-tolerance for
bribery, fraud, and corruption in all contracts.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
• Canon 7: Engineers shall continue their
professional development throughout their
careers, and shall provide opportunities for the
professional development of those engineers
under their supervision –
• Engineers should keep current in their specialty
fields by engaging in professional practice,
participating in continuing education courses,
reading in the technical literature, and attending
professional meetings and seminars.

• Engineers should encourage their engineering


employees to become registered at the earliest
possible date.
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Guidelines to follow under Canons
• Engineers should encourage engineering
employees to attend and present papers at
professional and technical society meetings.

• Engineers shall uphold the principle of


mutually satisfying relationships between
employers and employees with respect to
terms of employment including professional
grade descriptions, salary ranges, and fringe
benefits.
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Policy statement
• A policy statement is an organization-level
document that prescribes acceptable methods
or behaviors.

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IMPORTANT AND RELEVANT POLICY
STATEMENTS BY ASCE
Seǀ eƌal of ASCE͛s ƌeleǀ aŶt ͚poliĐLJstateŵeŶts͛͛ of
which engineers should be aware –

a. Continued education requirements for annual


͚ethiĐs tƌaiŶiŶg,͛͛ as stated iŶ PoliĐLJStateŵeŶt ϯ ϳ ϲ

b. EŶgiŶeeƌ͛s judgment and adherence to the ASCE


Code of Ethics, as stated in Resolution 502

c. Use of the teƌŵ ͚eŶgiŶeeƌ͛͛ as stated iŶ PoliĐLJϰϯ ϯ


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ASCE Policy Statement 376—
Continuing Education in Ethics Training

• The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)


encourages all state boards of engineering
licensure to institute a minimum professional
development requirement consisting of at
least one (1) hour per year on professional
ethics for professional licensure.

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Issue (necessity) for
policy statement 376
• Professional ethics is the cornerstone of
engineering practice. Adherence to a Code of
Ethics encourages engineers to practice in areas
iŶ ǁ h iĐh theLJaƌe ĐoŵpeteŶt aŶd that ͚theLJǁ i ll
hold the safety, health and welfare of the public
as their highest duty. The majority of complaints
referred to state-boards of licensure for
investigation and possible penalty action involve
ethics and, often, a lack of understanding of the
Fundamental Canons of Professional Conduct.

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ASCE resolution 502 – Professional
Ethics and conflicts of interest
Policy
As per ASCE –
• The eŶgiŶeeƌ͛s judgŵeŶt aŶd adheƌeŶĐe to the ASCE
Code of Ethics must be above reproach and beyond the
influence of competing interests. Even the appearance
of a conflict of interest is to be avoided.

• The ability to exercise the independent judgment


required of engineers to protect the public health,
safety, welfare and environment should not be
compromised in any way by the rules of any
organization to which the engineer belongs.
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Policy (Continued)

• Laws, regulations, conditions of employment and


collective bargaining agreements must permit
engineers to maintain their independence and
avoid potential conflicts of interest to protect the
public health, safety, welfare, and environment.

• Engineers should not be subject to disciplinary or


demeaning actions for holding the public interest
above all others.
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Resolution 502 - Issue
• Engineering is a learned profession that has a direct impact
on the environment and the safety, health and welfare of
the public. Accordingly, the services provided require high
standards of honesty, integrity and fairness.
• ASCE͛s Code of EthiĐs ƌeĐogŶizes the uŶiƋue eŵploLJŵeŶt
aspects of the engineer, regardless of the employer, public
or private. Employment conditions for engineers must
support their duty to hold paramount the health, safety,
welfare and environment of the public in their
engagements. To fulfill their duty, engineers must apply
responsibly their independent judgment in design and
construction matters. This duty to the public supersedes
any actual or perceived obligations engineers have to the
owners of their projects, their employers, or any
organizations to which they belong.

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Rationale
• EŶgiŶeeƌs ŵust adheƌe to ASCE͛s Code of EthiĐs aŶd opeƌate uŶdeƌ
the jurisdiction of state licensure laws and are subject to discipline
for violation of these laws. Engineers are also subject to discipline
from the professional societies of the engineering profession for
violation of the public trust. These laws and standards include the
responsibility for properly preparing design documents or
performing field observation and testing to document construction.
• An engineer relies on a variety of resources, including non-
professional personnel, in rendering professional engineering
services. An engineer must oversee the performance of those
resources for public health, safety, welfare and the environment.
• Since ASCE is composed of individual members, the Society is
concerned about matters that affect its members and will voice its
concerns relative to the employment conditions of its professional
members while simultaneously striving to protect the health, safety,
welfare and the environment of the public it serves.

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ASCE Policy Statement 433—Use of
the Teƌŵ ͚͚EŶgiŶeeƌ͛͛
Policy
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
believes that the following standards are the only
basis on which any title or designation should
iŶĐlude the teƌŵ ͚eŶgiŶeeƌ.͛͛ –
• Graduation from an accredited engineering
program with a degree in engineering

• Registration as a professional engineer or


engineer-in-training under a state engineering
registration law; or,
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433—Use of the Teƌŵ ͚͚EŶgiŶeeƌ͛͛
• An official ruling designating an individual or a
group in an engineering capacity as meeting the
defiŶitioŶ of ͚PƌofessioŶal EŶgiŶeeƌ͛͛ ;P.E.Ϳ uŶdeƌthe
Taft-Hartley Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act.

However, regarding cases where the word


͞eŶgiŶeeƌiŶg͟ is used as a ŵodifieƌ, aŶd the teƌŵ
clearly implies that the duty of the person is not
of a pƌofessioŶal eŶgiŶeeƌ, the teƌŵ ͞eŶgiŶeeƌiŶg
ŵaLJďe used. Foƌ edž aŵple, ͞eŶgiŶeeƌiŶg assitant͟,
͞eŶgiŶeeƌiŶg aide͟, ͞eŶgiŶeeƌiŶg teĐhŶologist͟.

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Issue
• Iŵpƌopeƌ use of the teƌŵ ͚eŶgiŶeeƌ͛͛ is
confusing and misleading to the public.
Employers and employees sometimes misuse
the term in titles and resumes. This misuse of
the title by groups and people who are usually
knowledgeable tends to diminish the value of
the title which should be applied to people
qualified professionally by accepted standards
of education, law and engineering practice.

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Citations Issued to Board Licensees
• Citations are issued to licensed engineers and
land surveyors when the severity of a violation
may not warrant suspension or revocation of the
liĐeŶsee͛s ƌight to pƌaĐtiĐe. When a fine is levied
with a citation, payment of the fine represents
satisfactory resolution of the matter. Summaries
of the ĐitatioŶs, iŶĐludiŶg eaĐh liĐeŶsee͛s Ŷaŵe
and license number, remain on the website for
five years after the citation is final, unless further
action is taken against the licensee. All citations
issued by the Board are matters of public record.

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Further reading from book
• Code of ethics –
a. The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
b. The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)
c. The International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC)

• Rationale for the policy statements of ASCE covered in class


• Case studies

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