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Engineer in Society - BEM Code of Professional Conduct & Ethical Theories

Engineer in Society - BEM Code of Professional Conduct & Ethical Theories

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Engineer in Society 2011

Engineer in Society BEM Code of Professional Conduct & Ethical Theories

By: Arjun Pratap Singh

Word Count: 4000 words (without including Literature Review)

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Engineer in Society 2011
Abstract

In industrial engineering one has to make difficult decisions regarding environmental pollution, health and safety of people and workplace and achieving targets under lot of pressure due to, schedule and time and money constraints. This increases the risk of pushing engineers and organization into an ethical dilemma.

With ethical knowledge, the engineer will have more concern over the safety, health and welfare of the public. Loui (1999) assert¶s that in real life, solving ethical problems requires collaboration between different kinds of professional, which leads to the cooperation of diverse experiences and values. This would in turn assist in better and more informed decisions. The engineers will consider the safety of the public¶s first before he or she make any decision or implement a design as the product may endanger the publics.

In this paper the author gives solution to one such problem presented, by examining, analyzing and applying the ethical theories and BEM (Board of Engineers Malaysia) code of professional conduct/ethics to solve ethical related issues in the practice of engineering.

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Table of Contents:

S.No

Content

Pg. No.

1

Abstract

2

2

Scenario

4

3

Introduction

5

4

Literature Review

10

4.1

BEM¶s Guidelines for Code of Professional Conduct

10

4.2

Ethical Theories

21

5

Ethical Problem Analysis and Discussion

24

6

Conclusion

33

7

References

36

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Engineer in Society 2011

Scenario (Question)

You are working as an engineer in a chemical processing plant. As per requirement from the Department of Environment, chemical wastewater from your plant needs to be treated before being released into the nearby river. You are the engineer in-charge of the wastewater treatment system within the plant. Your superior is Mr. Ali, the plant manager.

During the routine check and maintenance of the wastewater treatment system, you notice that there is an intermittent problem with the system which causes the treatment processes to halt for a while. Hence, there is a potential of a slight leakage of chemical wastewater flow from the treatment system into the river. The leak into the river could be causing fish to die and some illnesses in the local community which makes the situation more serious. Hence, you report the problem to Mr. Ali. In addition, you suggest a few solutions to the problem. Surprisingly, Mr. Ali rejects your proposals. His reasons are the cost of the proposed rectification work is too high and that the problem only occurs intermittently and the amount of wastewater leak into the river is very minimal.

You are now promoted and transferred to another department which is responsible for maintenance of other equipment, so that you do not need to worry about the wastewater leakage problem anymore. Mr. Ali also warns you not to disclose the issue to the Department of Environment or your job is at stake.

What should you do at this point? Do you have an ethical obligation to take further actions? What if you keep quiet and the intermittent problem becomes permanent one day?
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Introduction

The area of ethics has received increased attention from the private and public sectors as well as academics over the past several decades. There have been numerous publicized incidents such as Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster (1986 ± United States of America), Chernobyl Disaster (1986 ± Ukraine), Bhopal Gas Disaster (1984 ± India), Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse (1981 ± United States of America) and many more, which have brought the topic of ethics mainly, engineering ethics to public¶s attention.

Most of these disasters have been directly linked to not abiding by the engineering codes of ethics. These incidents clearly indicate the extent of unethical practices played by senior engineers and managers worldwide. They also show that unethical behavior is costly to corporations, employees and their investors. As a result, engineering organizations and professional associations have established and are enforcing stricter code of ethics.

[Fig 1: Body of the Code Ethics, Malaysia, Taken from www.scribd.com\doc\ 24004818/Codes-of-Ethics-ofProfessional-Engineering]

Below are some definitions in form of questions and answers which would help the readers understand the BEM Code of Professional Conduct/Ethics and Ethical Theories which provide with the framework for ethical judgment. These codes and theories will help the author to analyze the given scenario and solve the ethical problem.

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What is a Profession?

A profession is a group having specialized training, knowledge and skills and a commitment for social good.

What is Professional Responsibility?

Professional responsibility is the responsibility to use the specialized knowledge and skills for the benefit of both individuals and society in general.

Are Scientific Researchers Professionals? Research scientists do have specialized training, knowledge and skills and use these abilities to benefit both individuals and society.

What is a Professional Code? A group agreement, the contract, the values of the group made tangible and concrete, guidelines for how to use the specialized skills. It is discipline and context.

How does this differ from personal Ethical Code? An ethical code is about the values we live by in general and refers to our behavior in society; a general ethical code is not discipline or context specific. A professional code of ethics is discipline and context specific.

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Are there any similarities between Ethical Codes and Professional Codes? Yes, both types of codes have many shared values, some of which are honesty, fairness, doing no harm and the desire to improve the quality of life for as many people as possible.

What are the limitations of the Professional Codes? Professional codes can be difficult to enforce. In attempting to both set standards and allow for individual moral freedom a code can end up as only a minimal standard. There is also the problem of having a multiplicity of codes; for example, one specific to a discipline, another set forth by the university, a third set of rules from the funding agency and a fourth established by the government, leading to confusion.

In very simple words ethics simply mean systematic reflection on what is moral. Morality is whole of decisions, opinions and actions with which people express what is right or wrong. And engineering ethics is same as normal ethics just that, it is for the case of engineering guided with some set of rules, which are mandatory to follow so that, engineers don¶t do something unethical knowingly (prevention). In general, importance of engineering ethics is that, it helps engineer to maintain his/her ethical reputation within their engineering careers. Some of the main principles by which an engineer should live by are as following:

y y y y y y

Public safety, health and welfare (Engineers work for the society) Perform in area of competence (If not, disaster could happen) Honest and faithful to client and employer (Confidentiality and proprietary information ) Conduct themselves honorably (No bribes and fraud, punishment if caught) No conflict of interest (No self-vested interest) Consideration for environment (DOE strict standards)

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It helps engineers to think morally and independently about the moral issues, to the situation which might arise on work. Ethical problems in engineering are often complex and involve conflicting ethical principles. Engineers must be able to resolve these conflicts and reach a defensible decision.

Before continuing further, author would like to put up facts/issues/concept related to the scenario given:

y

As per requirements from department of environment (DOE - important body), chemical waste water from plant needs to be treated before being released into nearby river. Is it really necessary to follow the requirements?

y

During routine check engineer in ± charge found out that, there is intermittent problem with the waste water treatment system which causes process to halt for a while. Is the problem major or serious?

y

Potential of slight leakage of chemical waste water from treatment system into river. How large is the leakage?? (Need to check the volume)

y

What is the effect on the river ecosystem by this leakage?

y

How is the local community being affected by this leakage?

y

Cost of proposed rectification work is too high. Would the cost be higher if not repaired at earliest?

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y What if DOE comes to know about it, from someone else? (Author was the engineer ± in charge when the problem was discovered)

y

Plant manager rejects the proposal of rectification. Should engineer ± in charge forget about the problem as his senior told him to?

y

Engineer ± in charge promoted and transferred to other department. Higher salary, new position and new department. Should author (EIC) risk all this for the slight leakage?

y

Should engineer ± in charge bypass plant manager and go to higher authorities?

y

Can the leakage be repaired? (Maintenance department)

y

Can engineer ± in charge convince the plant manager for repairing the leakage, using some other method?

y

How can engineer ± in charge notify DOE without letting them or plant manager know it was him/her?

y

Are there any laws which protect the whistleblower in the company?

Below author has done literature review regarding the topic of BEM code of conduct/ethics and ethical theories. From there on author has review, analyzed and discussed the ethical problems in this scenario and has come up with all possible solutions to the problem. In the end author has concluded the research paper by a brief summary of the case, explaining what all has been done to come up with a single solution to the problem and have also given some future recommendations which can be followed to prevent such unethical practices.
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Literature Review

According to Cooper, H. (1998) a literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge including substantive findings as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic. Literature reviews are secondary sources, and as such, do not report any new or original experimental work.

BEM¶s Code of Professional Conduct These are the code of professional conduct or ethics set by Board of Engineers Malaysia to prevent engineers from behaving and acting unethically. The codes of ethics are divided into 5 main sections and 27 subs ± section. Author will review and provide an overview of these codes for a better understanding (5 main sections).

Section 1 According to this section a registered engineer shall at all times hold paramount safety, health and welfare of the public. This section is further divided into 5 subs ± section. Engineering is a reputable profession; they work for the welfare of the society. To take care of safety, health and welfare of public (society) is their paramount responsibility. To aide this code BEM provides 5 subs ± section, according to which:

1. A professional engineer shall approve and sign only those engineering documents that he has prepared or are prepared under his direct supervision, so that he/she knows and understand what has been done in the documents and not sign it without knowing if it is correct or wrong to prevent any problem in future (to himself/herself) and public in general.

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2. A professional engineer shall certify satisfactory completion of a piece of work only if he has control over the supervision of the construction or installation of that work, and only if he is satisfied that the construction or installation has fulfilled the requirements of the engineering design and specifications, as he/she would be held responsible if anything goes wrong in future, which might cause harm to safety, health or welfare of the public.

3. A registered engineer shall not reveal facts, data or information without the prior consent of the client or employer except as authorized or required by law or when withholding of such information is contrary to the safety of the public. If facts, data or information is released prior to consent of employer or client, it is considered a crime as the rivals or the competitor can have business or technological edge over the company engineer is working for. He/she should be honest and faithful to the client and the employer. But can be revealed if required by law (case) or if withholding the information isn¶t in safety, health and welfare of the public.

4. A registered engineer having knowledge of any violation of this code and local authorities regulations shall report thereon to appropriate professional bodies and, when relevant, also to public authorities and cooperate with the proper authorities in furnishing such information or assistance as may be required. As, these codes and regulations have been formed keeping in mind the safety, health and welfare of the public, breaking these codes mean, there are chances for harm to the public some way or the another. So, such information should be given to authorities when one comes to know about.

5. When the professional advice of a professional engineer is overruled and amended contrary to his advice, the professional engineer shall, if the amendment may in his opinion give rise to situation that may endanger life and/or property, notify his employer or client and such other authority as may be appropriate and explain the consequences to be expected as a result of his advice being overruled and amended. This is to prevent any wrong doings, if the professional engineer is knowing about the
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impact it might cause not taking his/her advice. He/she should take the responsibility of letting the concerned authorities know.

A registered engineer should always look out for dangers and signs, which might cause harm to safety, health and welfare of the public. They should never sign on documents they haven¶t supervised or made themselves, they should never certify satisfactory completion of work until they are fully satisfied with the work, they shouldn¶t reveal any facts, data or information without prior consent of employee or client, they shouldn¶t hold back any facts, data or information regarding violation of BEM code and local authorities regulations and finally should inform concerned authorities if they know the negative impact on public in general if, their advice is turned down.

Section 2 According to this section a registered engineer shall undertake assignments only if he is qualified by education and experience in specific technical fields in which he is involved. This section is further divided into 2 subs ± section which are:

1. A Professional Engineer shall not affix his signature to any plan or document dealing with subject matter in which he lacks competence, nor to any plan or document not prepared under his direction and control. This is to prevent any problems in future, either big or small, which might arise as the engineer affixed his signature to plan or document dealing with subject matter in which he/she lacked competence. Nor should he/she affix signature to plan or documents not prepared under his direction and control as, he/she doesn¶t fully understand and know what is inside the plan or document, and if in future these plan and document fail somehow, they are the ones who would be held responsible.

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2. A professional engineer shall not accept assignment and assume responsibility for coordination of an entire project and sign and stamp (P.E. stamp) the engineering documents for the entire project unless each technical segment of the project is signed and stamped personally by the qualified engineer who has prepared the respective segment of the project. This is there to prevent all the responsibilities of the project to fall directly upon one engineer, it also prevents engineer from signing and stamping plans and documents he/she isn¶t well versed with and finally it ensures project is on track and each part has been certified for satisfactory completion without any corruption directly.

A registered engineer should only affix his/her signatures to those plans and documents in which he/she is competent or knows about the topic properly (qualified and experienced), and not on those he/she lacks competence or aren¶t prepared under their direction and control as, they have to be responsible for whatever happens once the plans and documents have been finalized and work starts (construction, installation, repair). He/she should accept assignment, assume responsibility of co ± ordination of entire project, sign or stamp engineering documents for entire project unless each technical segment of the project have been signed and stamped personally by qualified engineers under whose direction and control the documents and plans were made, this is to ensure each technical segment of the project have been reviewed and analyzed by engineer under whom they were made to prevent any failure or problem in the project in later on stages and to distribute the responsibilities in managing a big project.

Section 3 According to this section a registered engineer shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. This section is further divided into 3 subs ± section which are:

1. A registered engineer shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements and testimony. He shall include all relevant and pertinent information in
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such reports, statements, or testimony, which should bear the date indicating when it was current. This code aide¶s honesty, truthfulness and faithfulness to the client, employer and public in general. It prevents an engineer from giving wrong information, data and facts which is unlawful and highly unethical.

2. A registered engineer may express publicly only technical opinions that are founded upon his competence and knowledge of the facts in the subject matter. This prevents an engineer from providing technical opinions unrelated to his competence and knowledge of facts of subject matter, thus preventing rumors and wrong information in the public which may tarnish clients or employees name (company).

3. A registered engineer shall not issue statement, criticism or argument on technical matter that is inspired or paid for by interested parties, unless he has prefaced his comments by explicitly identifying the interested parties on whose behalf he is speaking and by revealing the existence of any interest he may have in the matter. This code prevents engineers from issuing statement, criticism or argument on technical matters which are inspired or paid by interested parties, as these parties could have selfvested interest in doing so, which might harm client¶s or employer¶s company or business in some way or another. If he/she still wishes to do something like that, he/she should explicitly identify the interested parties on whose behalf he/she is speaking and revealing existence of any interest he/she might have in matter, keeping engineer honest, trustworthy and faithful to the client and the employer.

This prevents a registered engineer from providing wrong facts, data and information into the public which might or may tarnish the image and the reputation of the client¶s or employer¶s company. And if he/she plans to issue public statements it should be objective, to the point and not revealing too much than necessary. Also the engineer should not issue statement, criticism or argument on technical matter which has been inspired or paid by other interested parties or if he/she plans to go ahead, engineer should tell on whose behalf are they speaking and if they have any interest in matter themselves. Not to forget engineers are allowed to do so only for the
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technical opinions that are founded upon their competence and knowledge of facts in subject matter.

Section 4 According to this section a registered engineer shall act for each employer or clients as faithful agent or trustee. This section is further divided into 7 subs ± sections, which are:

1. A registered engineer shall disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest that could influence or appear to influence his judgment or the quality of his services. This code prevents engineer to take some unethical decision or action because of potential conflicts of interest, which means some self-vested interest personally or at corporate level, for one¶s own gain.

2. A registered engineer shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, 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 and agreed to by all interested parties. This prevents engineer from taking benefits from more than one party, while working on same project, until circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed by all interested parties. Thus, being honest and faithful to the clients.

3. A registered engineer shall not solicit or accept financial or other valuable consideration, directly or indirectly, from outside agents in connection with the work for which he is responsible. This code prevents engineer from taking or asking any financial or valuable consideration, from outside agents who are connected to work he/she is responsible for. If he/she does so, he/she is dishonoring the profession, plus can be considered taking or asking for bribe if caught red ± handed, and also will have an impact on his/her decision making.

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4. A registered engineer as advisor or director of a company or an agency shall not participate in decision with respect to particular services solicited or provided by him or his organization. This code prevents an engineer to take part in decision making, so that he/she does not put his/her company over other bidders or companies available for self ± vested interest. An engineer needs to choose the best of the lot for completing or doing the task defined, not choosing company he/she has interest without any evaluation.

5. A registered engineer shall not solicit or accept a contract from a body or agency on which a principal or officer of his organization served as a member of that body or agency unless with knowledge and consent of that body or agency. This code prevents favoritism of the engineer¶s company over others because, there was an officer of his/her organization serving as member of body or agency giving the contract, unless with knowledge and consent of the body or agency.

6. A registered engineer while acting in his professional capacity shall disclose in writing to his client of the fact if he is a director or member of or substantial shareholder in or agent for any contracting or manufacturing company or firm or business or has any financial interest in any such company or firm or business, with which he deals on behalf of his client. This code prevents engineer from the later question from the client that, why did the engineer give the contract to the particular company he/she has interest in rather than other contracting companies.

7. All professional advice shall be given in good faith. This code focuses on the fact that advices given by the engineers shall be in good faith meaning, it should be for good of the profession. The engineer shouldn¶t give wrong advice or advice for some self ± vested interest, if he/she has to give such advice. Engineer should let the company or people know that his/her advice will also benefit him/her in someway

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This prevents anybody from pointing finger at a registered engineer and pointing out his/her misdeeds, which they might think is. This also makes an engineer faithful, honest and trustworthy employee. While being respected and honored by peers and colleagues.

Section 5 According to this section a registered engineer shall conduct himself honorably, responsibly, ethically and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation and usefulness of the profession. This section is further divided into 10 subs ± section, which are:

1. A

Registered

Engineer

shall

not

falsify

his

qualifications

or

permit

misrepresentation of his or his associates' qualifications. He shall not misrepresent or exaggerate his responsibility in or for the subject matter of prior assignments. Brochures or other presentations incident to the solicitation of employment shall not misrepresent pertinent facts concerning employers, employees, associates, joint ventures, or past accomplishments. This code points to the fact that an engineer should not lie or exaggerate about his accomplishment to get a job, assignment etc. If he/she does so, they are being dishonest and in long run spoiling the reputation of the profession.

2. A registered engineer shall not offer, give, solicit or receive, either directly or indirectly, any contribution to influence the award of a contract which may be reasonably construed as having the effect of intent to influencing the award of a contract. He shall not offer any gift or other valuable consideration in order to secure work. He shall not pay a commission, percentage or brokerage fee in order to secure work. This code prevents engineers from influencing the award of contract in any way possible, and also preventing offering gifts and other valuable considerations in order to secure work, thus keeping engineers lawfully, ethically correct and keeping honor.

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3. A registered engineer shall check with due diligence the accuracy of facts and data before he signs or endorses any statement or claim. He shall not sign on such documents unless, where necessary, qualifications on errors and inaccuracies have been made. This code makes it important for engineers to check accuracy of facts and data before he/she signs or endorses any statement or claims, as it¶s will become his/her responsibility once he/she has signed it. It¶s engineer¶s duty to check with due diligence before signing or endorsing any statement or claim.

4. A registered engineer shall respond, within reasonable time, to communication from the board or any other relevant authority on matter pertaining to his professional service. This code makes it compulsory for engineers to respond to any communication from board or any relevant authority on matter pertaining to his/her professional service within reasonable time, so that if there are any discrepancies, issues or other important things, it can be solved and discussed at earliest possible, for good of all.

5. A registered engineer shall not maliciously injure or attempt to maliciously injure whether directly or indirectly the professional reputation, prospect or business of another engineer. This code directs or advices engineers that they should not try to injure professional reputation, prospect or business of another engineer in any manner, because if they do, it would create a bad image of the profession and would be ethically very wrong.

6. A registered engineer shall not directly or indirectly a) Supplant or attempt to supplant another engineer,

b) Intervene or attempt to intervene in or in connection with engineering work of any kind which to his knowledge has already been entrusted to another engineer,

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c) Take over any work of another engineer acting for the same client unless he has,

I.

Obtained a letter of release from the other engineer or obtain such letter through the client, provided that this requirement may be waived by the board or,

II.

Been formally notified by the client that the services of that other Engineer have been terminated in accordance with the provisions of any contract entered into between that Engineer and the client; provided always that, in case of dispute over non-payment or quantum of any outstanding fees, the client shall request the Board to be the stakeholder under the provision of Section 4(1)(e)(ea.)

This code prevents a registered engineer from replacing or trying to replace another engineer not directly or indirectly. If one wishes to do so, one has to inform the concerned authorities so, that they can decide if the change is possible or not. It also prevents engineer from intervening in work which has been already entrusted to another engineer, if one doesn¶t obey this code, it can create confusion at work place and irritate the other engineer.

7. Except with the prior approval of the board, a registered engineer shall not be a director or executive of or substantial shareholder in or agent for any contracting or manufacturing company or firm or business related to building or engineering. If such approval is given, such engineer shall not undertake any contract work wherein he is engaged as a consulting engineer in such project unless it is in respect of a design and build project. This code prevents favoritism, soliciting and corrupt practices and aides¶ faithfulness and honesty towards the clients.

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8. A registered engineer shall not be a medium of payment made on his client's behalf unless he is so requested by his client nor shall he, in connection with work on which he is employed, place contracts or orders except with the authority of and on behalf of his client. This code prevents an engineer from wrong practices of corruption and forgery, and aides¶ honesty and trust towards the clients.

9. A registered engineer shall not a) Offer to make by way of commission or any other payment for the introduction of his professional employment or,

b) Except as permitted by the board, advertise in any manner or form in connection with his profession.

This code prevents an engineer to take any payment for introduction of his/her professional employment except the salary and benefits given by the client, thus maintaining honor and good reputation of the profession. This code also prevents engineer from any advertisement in any manner other than permitted by board, if not clients with wrong motives can come to the engineer to give him/her contract, also it would contradict the above point.

10. A professional engineer in private practice shall not without the approval of the board enter into professional partnership with any person other than a professional engineer in private practice, a registered architect, a registered quantity surveyor or a licensed land surveyor. This prevents any other person from taking the advantage of registered engineer for various professional partnership gains while not being a registered engineer himself/herself; it also prevents any other mal-practices which might have taken place by the other person in name of the registered engineer.

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This aides the registered engineer to conduct himself honorably, responsibly, ethically and lawfully while enhancing the honor, reputation and usefulness of the profession. It prevents any practices which can tarnish or taint the image or the reputation of the engineering profession and aides the trust, faithfulness and honesty by the registered engineer towards both the employers and the clients.

Ethical Theories Ethical theories and principles are the foundations of ethical analysis because they are the viewpoints from which guidance can be obtained along the pathway to a decision. Each theory emphasizes different points such as predicting the outcome and following one's duties to others in order to reach an ethically correct decision. However, in order for an ethical theory to be useful, the theory must be directed towards a common set of goals. Ethical principles are the common goals that each theory tries to achieve in order to be successful. These goals include beneficence, least harm, respect for autonomy and justice. There are number of ethical theories in general but author is considering 4 most commonly cited ethical theories, which are explained below with relevant examples.

Relativism Ethical relativism is the theory that holds that morality is relative to the norms of one's culture. That is, whether an action is right or wrong depends on the moral norms of the society in which it is practiced. The same action may be morally right in one society but be morally wrong in another. For the ethical relativist, there are no universal moral standards, standards that can be universally applied to all peoples at all times. The only moral standards against which a society's practices can be judged are its own. If ethical relativism is correct, there can be no common framework for resolving moral disputes or for reaching agreement on ethical matters among members of different societies. For example in India it is impolite or wrong to wear short clothes in public, especially for females, while in United States of America it is common or right for females to wear short clothes in public.
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Utilitarianism The utilitarian ethical theory is founded on the ability to predict the consequences of an action. To a utilitarian, the choice that yields the greatest benefit to the most people is the choice that is ethically correct. One benefit of this ethical theory is that the utilitarian can compare similar predicted solutions and use a point system to determine which choice is more beneficial for more people. This point system provides a logical and rationale argument for each decision and allows a person to use it on a case-by-case context. For example cutting down a patch of forest is acceptable even though it¶s disturbing the surrounding ecology but, provides locals with land to farm upon, thus providing employment and food to eat.

There are two types of utilitarianism, act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is same as the definition above. In act utilitarianism, a person performs the acts that benefit the most people, regardless of personal feelings or the societal constraints such as laws, same example as above can be taken to explain this law. As deforestation is strict no in many places according to law, still people cut forests to get land for farming. Rule utilitarianism, however, takes into account the law and is concerned with fairness. A rule utilitarian seeks to benefit the most people but through the fairest and most just means available. Therefore, added benefits of rule utilitarianism are that it values justice and includes beneficence at the same time. For example, if a CEO of a top notch company is getting late for a board meeting, he/she has two options either to drive fast, break some traffic rules, endanger pedestrians life and reach on time for the meeting where other board members are waiting, reaching in time gives a good impression or he/she can drive safely, follow all the laws and rules and reach the board meeting a bit late but this benefits larger group of society. Thus, the second case is the correct for rule utilitarianism.

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Duty Ethics and Rights Ethics The deontological or duty ethical theory states that people should adhere to their obligations and duties when analyzing an ethical dilemma. This means that a person will follow his or her obligations to another individual or society because upholding one's duty is what is considered ethically correct. For instance, a deontologist will always keep his promises to a friend and will follow the law. A person who follows this theory will produce very consistent decisions since they will be based on the individual's set duties.

In the rights ethical theory the rights set forth by a society are protected and given the highest priority. Rights are considered to be ethically correct and valid since a large or ruling population endorses them. Individuals may also bestow rights upon others if they have the ability and resources to do so. For example, a person may say that her friend may borrow the car for the afternoon. The friend who was given the ability to borrow the car now has a right to the car in the afternoon.

Virtue Ethics The virtue ethical theory judges a person by his character rather than by an action that may deviate from his normal behavior. It takes the person's morals, reputation and motivation into account when rating an unusual and irregular behavior that is considered unethical. Fundamentally it is interested in what kind of people one should be. It asks what a good person would do in real life situation. Begins by considering what makes a person morally good. Actions are considered right if they support good character traits (virtues) and wrong if they support bad character traits (vices). For example, if a person plagiarized a passage that was later detected by a peer, the peer who knows the person well will understand the person's character and will be able to judge the friend. Conversely, a person who has a reputation for scientific misconduct is more likely to be judged harshly for plagiarizing because of his consistent past of unethical behavior.

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Ethical Problem Analysis and Discussion

The moral issues/facts/concepts have been already highlighted in the introduction part, so the author won¶t repeat the same here. Now the author is going to analyze the scenario and discuss the various possible solutions and in end come up with one solution for the problem. So after defining the issue/facts/concept, author defines the BEM guidelines for codes of professional conduct applicable to the given scenario, after which using the BEM codes and ethical theories the author comes up with the answer to the issues provided above, from which the final solution would be deducted.

The following are the BEM Guidelines for Codes of Professional Conduct which are applicable for this case (scenario):

1.0: A Registered Engineer shall at all-time hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.

1.2: A Professional Engineer shall certify satisfactory completion of a piece of work only if he has control over the supervision of the construction or installation of that work, and only if he is satisfied that the construction or installation has fulfilled the requirements of the engineering design and specifications.

1.3: A Registered Engineer shall not reveal facts, data or information without the prior consent of the client or employer except as authorized or required by law or when withholding of such information is contrary to the safety of the public.

1.4: A Registered Engineer having knowledge of any violation of this code and Local Authorities regulations shall report thereon to appropriate professional bodies and,

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when relevant, also to public authorities and cooperate with the proper authorities in furnishing such information or assistance as may be required.

1.5: When the professional advice of a Professional Engineer is overruled and amended contrary to his advice, the Professional Engineer shall, if the amendment may in his opinion give rise to situation that may endanger life and/or property, notify his employer or client and such other authority as may be appropriate and explain the consequences to be expected as a result of his advice being overruled and amended.

3.1: A Registered Engineer shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements and testimony. He shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony, which should bear the date indicating when it was current.

4.1: A Registered Engineer shall disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest that could influence or appear to influence his judgment or the quality of his services.

5.3: A Registered Engineer shall check with due diligence the accuracy of facts and data before he signs or endorses any statement or claim. He shall not sign on such documents unless, where necessary, qualifications on errors and inaccuracies have been made.

5.5: A Registered Engineer shall not maliciously injure or attempt to maliciously injure whether directly or indirectly the professional reputation, prospect or business of another Engineer.

Now using the BEM¶s Code of Ethics, Ethical Theories and Hypothetical situations author will try to answer the moral issues/facts and come up with various possible solutions by analyzing the
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scenario from different angles. The solutions which lead up to an ethical solution in the end will be defined below. Here is some of the relevant information obtained from answering the issues defined in introduction:

y

As, the department of environment is a very prestigious and known body, to follow its requirement is very important as, plus it has very stringent norms. So, it becomes necessary to treat the wastewater properly before releasing into the river. Hence it¶s the duty of the engineer ± in charge to report the problem.

y

During checkup it was found that the problem is intermittent and not regular. So, there is just a slight leakage of waste water into the river as of now. The condition of the problem isn¶t that serious as of now, plus it¶s not easy to notice the slight leakage. In India when wastewater flows into the river it isn¶t that big an issue, but in Malaysia as per DOE standards it still qualifies to be a major issue.

y

Need to check the volume of the leakage, need to come up with data to analyze if the leakage is major or minor. Need the data, so that if engineer ± in charge plans to complain, he/she has enough data to back him/her. Plus to know, if the leaked volume of waste water without treatment would create any problems to the river ecological system and the local community.

y

Engineer ± in charge has got the data which tells him/her, that the leakage into the river is enough to cause deficiency of oxygen to fishes in the region (where wastewater is being released from the treatment plant), if the leakage isn¶t rectified at earliest possible the fishes in the area would start dying very soon.

y

The leakage is enough to cause harm to the local community, as fish is the main part of their diet, if they die, the local community will start starving, plus the river water is used
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by the local community (poor) for drinking and bathing purposes. The water because of leakage is now unfit for drinking and bathing as can cause various health ailments.

y

Plant manager informed, that cost proposed rectification by engineer ± in charge is too high. From the calculations it is clear that repairing the system is much better than letting the slight leakage continue. First of all when DOE comes to know of this leakage, they will impose a heavy fine on the company, plus company would have to accommodate for the death of fishes in the river and health problems to the local community, plus the DOE would degrade the companies environmental standard ratings, hence impacting the reputation of the company, and on top of that plant manager can lose his/her job.

y

If someone else from the plant informs DOE about the leakage, engineer ± in charge and plant managers¶ job would be on line. If DOE researches and come to know that when leakage happened author was engineer ± in charge of plant, his/her job would really be in danger.

y

As, the plant manager whose the senior of engineer ± in charge rejected the proposal of rectification, and threatened the engineer ± in charge not to tell anyone else about the leakage. So, engineer ± in charge should forget about informing anyone regarding this leakage as, he/she wants to be in good books of the plant manager. Plant manager can be a useful contact in future. Also for sure he/she would be having some back up plan (more experienced).

y

After informing the plant manager the engineer ± in charge was transferred and promoted to a new department where he/she does not have to worry about the leakage. Now plant managers wouldn¶t be able to keep an eye on the engineer in charge. He/she can slip and inform the DOE about the leakage. But, if some of DOE is corrupted and informs the plant manager. The engineer ± in charge will lose his job and possibly plant manager my
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escape untouched. So, it would be better if engineer ± in charge doesn¶t open his mouth. No need to take such a big risk, sooner or later someone will come to know about the leakage.

y

Other option the engineer ± in charge has is by ± passing the plant manager and informing someone senior than plant manager who he/she can trust with the information.

y

Now as engineer ± in charge has been shifted to maintenance department, he/she with the permission of the plant manager can try to formulae ways to repair the leakage, or at least do a temporary repair which might be much cheaper than full repair to prevent further leakage into the river, without informing the DOE.

y

Engineer ± in charge can go to the plant manager again, this time with all the data and leakage¶s impact on the environment and local community. And try to convince him/her that repairing of the plant would be much cheaper in long run.

y

Engineer ± in charge can inform the DOE by numerous other methods while hiding his identity as, there could be many other people in plant who knows about leakage but due to fear of losing job haven¶t spoken up to plant manager. Some of the ways to inform DOE can be, type a letter to DOE without writing name or make a fake email account and send email to DOE etc.

y

Engineer ± in charge should research about the whistleblower laws in the company. If there are laws protecting a whistleblower in the company, the engineer ± in charge can come out in open and tell DOE about the leakage happening in the plant, without fearing loss of his/her job anymore. But, it might spoil his/her reputation among his/her colleagues; they might not trust him/her anymore.

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Now after getting the relevant information, the options for solution according to BEM¶s codes and ethical theories in front of engineer are as following:

y

The engineer ± in charge has moral obligation, to abide by BEM¶s code of professional conduct. Therefore,

i.

He/she has to inform the DOE or any other concerned authority regarding the leakage while keeping the safety, health and welfare of the public and the environment in mind.

ii.

He/she should not certify the satisfactory completion of the routine check ± up until he/she is self-satisfied.

iii.

He/she shouldn¶t withhold the information about the leakage, as withholding such information is contrary to safety of the public.

iv.

As, plant manager forced him/her to withhold the information, engineer ± in charge is violating the code and DOE regulations. Thus he/she should inform the DOE about the leakage and cooperate with them.

v.

As, engineer ± in charge advice wasn¶t accepted by the plant manager, not accepting the advice is bound to endanger life and the environment surrounding the plant area. He/she should notify DOE or his/her employer and explain the result of his/her advice being overruled.

vi.

He/she should be objective and truthful in writing the report about the routine checkup and date indicating when it was current.
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vii. If he/she informs the employer or the DOE about the leakage a bit late, he/she should tell why he/she did so. Answer could be because of fear of losing the new position, salary and job. viii. He/she should check all documents with due diligence for the accuracy of facts and data before sign. As, he/she should not sign on the wrong report presented before him/her stating that no leakage has been discovered after the routine checkup.

ix.

He/she should find a way of informing the DOE or the employer, or convince the plant manager for repair, thus preventing plant manger¶s reputation from being damaged in some manner due to him/her (Contradicting statement to 5 and 7).

y

As per the various ethical theories we have:

i.

If the engineer ± in charge follows the relativism theory according to it, in Malaysia the environmental standards are high and well defined for quite some time, thus engineer ± in charge will surely report the slight leakage to DOE. As for the case of India (engineer ± in charge). In India till few years back the environmental standards weren¶t high and properly defined. Thus, many companies put their untreated waste water or semi treated waste water into the rivers without much worry. So, if the plant would have been in India, the engineer ± in charge wouldn¶t have notified DOE about the slight leakage.

ii.

If the engineer ± in charge follows the act and rule utilitarianism theory according to it, he/she should speak up to the employer or the DOE regarding the leakage. It is for the good of most people, which includes the workers and officers in company (reputation maintained) and the local community. If engineer ± in charge planned to sit quiet, only person benefiting from it would be the plant manager and engineer ± in charge.
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iii. According to duty ethics it is the duty of the engineer ± in charge to inform the DOE or the authorities regarding the leakage, as life of the local community could be on stake, hence it¶s the duty of the engineer ± in charge to protect the rights of the local community, the basic one being right to live. And according to the right ethics, the BEM code of conduct gives enough rights to the engineer ± in charge to speak up regarding the leakage to the DOE or concerned authorities, plus the engineer ± in charge has the right to freedom, if he/she chooses to keep quiet the plant manager might black mail engineer in ± charge in future (could be possible). iv. According to virtue ethics theory, the engineer ± in charge should have good and high moral, which means he/she should be caring about the environment, the local community and the reputation of the company. He/she shouldn¶t be scared to go ahead and disclose the information about the leakage to DOE or concerned authorities without fearing for loss of his new position; it is for the greater good. Only bold men or women can act according to virtue ethics theory in this case, it is not for the weak.

y

The other solution to this scenario is, before going to the DOE and concerned authorities and disclosing the information about slight leakage at waste water treatment plant. The engineer ± in charge can gather data revealing the quantity of wastewater the one which isn¶t treated is leaking into the river, and what are the impacts of the leakage upon the water ecosystem and the local community. After which, engineer ± in charge can explain to plant manager that letting the leakage will cost more in long run, as if in future the DOE comes to know about it (which they will for sure, as leakage is small right now, with time it will increase, and it will become a major problem), it would put a heavy fine on the company, plus ask the company to accommodate by paying for destroying the water ecosystem and health ailments in the local community, plus the reputation of company would be tarnished, engineer ± in charge and plant manager could lose their jobs and finally company would have to spend a larger amount of money to fix the larger problem, which could have been fixed with lesser amount of money in the current state.
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And now when engineer ± in charge has been shifter to maintenance department, he/she can offer temporary repair of the system, till the plant manager finds another way to tackle the problem.

y

The last solution in front of engineer ± in charge is informing DOE or concerned authorities anonymously by mail, email, phone, informing senior of the plant manager who can be trust with not revealing the source of information and lastly engineer ± in charge can go openly to DOE or the employer and inform them about the leakage, only if protected by the whistleblower law in the company (not known).

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Conclusion

As per the scenario given, the chemical wastewater from the plant needs to be treated before being released into nearby river as per requirements from department of environment, after the routine check and maintenance, the engineer ± in charge noted that there was an intermittent problem with the wastewater treatment system, which caused the treatment process to halt for a while. Hence, there was a potential of slight leakage of chemical waste water flow from treatment system into the river. The leak into river could be causing fish to die and some illness in local community which makes the situation more serious. Hence engineer ± in charge reported the problem to plant manager, with some added solutions to the problem. But, the plant manager rejected the proposal with the reasons that cost of proposed rectification work is too high and problem occurs only intermittently and amount of waste water leak into river is very minimal.

After which engineer ± in charge was promoted and transferred to another department which is responsible for maintenance of other equipment, so that engineer ± in charge doesn¶t have to worry about problem anymore, with plant manager warning the engineer ± in charge that he/she should not disclose the issue to department of environment (DOE) or his/her job was at stake.

In this paper the author has discussed about the ethical dilemmas faced by the engineer ± in charge, the options or solutions he/she might have to overcome them, ethical obligation he/she has to take further action and what might happen if engineer ± in charge kept quiet and intermittent problem becomes a permanent one day.

Author has reviewed and examined the BEM¶s code of professional conduct and its guidelines, and the ethical theories which provided with the framework for the ethical judgment. Based on these codes and theories the solution to the ethical problem was found.

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At start author introduced the topic of ethics, importance of engineering ethics in general, then summarized the issues/facts/concepts from the scenario given. After which literature review was done explaining the 27 BEM¶s code of professional conduct and 4 major ethical theories. After which the BEM¶s code of professional conduct to be used in scenario were defined, the relevant information from the issues/facts/concepts (introduction) was got, using them as the base, 4 main solutions were got generated.

The first solution was based upon the moral obligations for engineer ± in charge to abide by BEM¶s code of professional conduct which was slightly contradicting, the second solution was based upon the ethical theories which pointed towards a common solution of disclosing the information of the leakage to DOE but did not specify how, the third solution was better solution in which engineer ± in charge tries to convince the plant manager for repairs before DOE comes to know and the last solution was to inform DOE about the leakage in an anonymous manner.

But, the author still did not feel totally convinced using just one of the four solutions. Thus, he/she came up with a solution which is kind of mix of all the solutions or the middle of all the solutions defined which is,

Author should first try to convince the plant ± manager for complete repair while making him/her understand the consequences of not doing so and the pros and cons of his/her decision. If the plant manager is still stuck with the reason that proposed rectification work is too high, engineer ± in charge should offer him/her temporary rectification work, which might buy the plant manager time to think more deeply and find another way to tackle the problem. This solution is a general outcome of all the ethical theories as; it¶s doing everyone good which includes the engineer ± in charge, plant manager, officers and worker in the company (reputation maintained), local community, the water ecosystem and DOE does not need to know about the

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problem as rectification work would be on. Plus the engineer ± in charge wonµt be doing anything unethical according to BEM¶s code of professional conduct. On the contrary if the plant manager does not accept any of the proposals given by the engineer ± in charge, taking the aide of the ethical theories and some of the BEM¶s code of professional conduct, for good of majority of people (except the plant manager) the engineer ± in charge should anonymously inform the DOE about the leakage from the waste water treatment plant, but still it will require to break some BEM¶s code of professional conduct if not any ethical theories. If the engineer ± in charge is caught in the investigation he/she can reveal it was actually him/her who informed the DOE or the concerned authority and maintained anonymity just to be on safer side (good books of the plant manager if, by chance DOE had not acted upon the information.

There is no one direct solution to the problem (scenario) as engineer ± in charge has to think up of all the possible cases which can happen before taking any action. He/she should think about the greater good, good of the majority of the people, but at the same time thinking about protecting himself/herself from any kickbacks.

The author already explained what would happen if engineer ± in charge stays quiet and the intermittent problem becomes a major one while obtaining the relevant information from the facts/issues/concepts.

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y

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y

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y

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y

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y

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y

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