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Critically appraise how and to what extend the IESL code of ethics

encourage/discourage the ethical practice and professionalism of its

members referring to some real life examples

Engineers are involved in designing, consulting, planning, managing or constructing activities.
So their decisions are highly effected on environmental, social and economic states of county
or community. So most importantly, an engineer should be covered by codes of ethics and
standards of the profession. And also he or she has some social responsibility to mankind and
the environment in which he or she practices his or her profession. Therefor to ensure the
quality standards of engineering professionals practicing in Sri Lanka the Institute of
Engineering Sri Lanka (IESL) is introduced code of ethics.

There are there basic principle of ethics such as principle of utility, principle of respect and
virtue ethics. Under 1st principle, discuss what are the right thing to do and what is obliged to
do. Under 2nd principle, discuss about how to treat people and last part discuss about rules,
honesty, compassion, courage and temper.

IESL code of ethics and real life examples

IESL code of ethics

 Clause 1: Engineers shall hold paramount the health, safety and welfare of the public
and proper utilization of the funds and other resources in the performance of their
professional duties. It shall take precedence over their responsibility to the profession,
sectorial or private interests, employers or to other engineers.
 Clause 2: Engineers shall always act in such a manner as to uphold and enhance the
honor, integrity and dignity of the profession while safeguarding public interest at all
 Clause 3: Engineers shall build their reputation on merit and shall not compete unfairly.
 Clause 4: Engineers shall perform professional services only in the areas of their
 Clause 5: Engineers shall apply their skills and knowledge in the interest of their
employer or client for whom they shall act, in professional matters, as faithful agents
or trustees, so far as they do not conflict with the other requirements listed here and the
general public interest
 Clause 6: Engineers shall give evidence, express opinions or make statements in an
objective and truthful manner.
 Clause 7: Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their
careers and shall actively assist and encourage engineers under their direction to
advance their knowledge and experience,
 Clause 8: Engineers shall be committed to the need for sustainable management of the
planet's resources and seek to minimize adverse environmental impacts of their
engineering works or applications of technology so as to protect both present and future

Most of disasters such as Bhopal, Titanic, Space Shuttle Challenger and Chernobyl Nuclear
power plant were happened due to wrong decision, practice or attitude of engineers or
management. Therefore IESL code of ethics are very important for practical life of

In 1986, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is exploded and it caused the release of massive
quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere which spread over much of Western
USSR and Europe. 350,400 people were evacuated and resettled from the most severely
contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. This have been happened while testing of
reactor 4 of plant. The operating crew was planning to test. But they uncropped safety guides.
They have not standard test procedure, and three safety mechanisms were deliberately
bypassed, one for emergency water injection, and two others for emergency shut-down. The
design of the reactor, the operation of the reactor and the lack of a plan of actions to be taken
in case of a serious accident. According to IESL code of ethics engineers are consider about
health and safety. Although it was nuclear plant, engineers should not consider about safety.
Operators were not adequately trained and did not realize the dangerous nature of their actions.
So due to engineers neglecting their responsibility, this was happened. Therefore IESL code of
ethics is importance for engineers in real life. Always they should think about safety of
environment and health.
Bhopal is another big disaster that happened in 1984. A toxic gas release at a Union Carbide
pesticide plant in Bhopal, India resulted in 2,259 immediate deaths and some 11,000 deaths
following the disaster. In Bhopal incident, the management and engineers should not consider
about health and safety of employments or community. They only thing about profit. According
to IESL code of ethics, Engineers shall be committed to the need for sustainable management
of the planet's resources and seek to minimize adverse environmental impacts of their
engineering works or applications of technology so as to protect both present and future
generations. But in the Bhopal, there were no effective public warnings of the disaster. The
alarm that sounded on the night of the accident was similar to those sounded for various
purposes. No brochures or other materials had been distributed in the area around the plant
warning of the hazards it presented. And also there was no public education program about
what to do in an emergency. Several months before the accident, managers shut down a
refrigeration unit designed to keep the methyl isocyanate cool and inhibit chemical reactions.
The shutdown was a violation of plant procedures. They didn’t consider about at least minimum
safety level. Most of employer didn’t have good training. Responsibility for safety is the most
important aspect and highest ethical priority of any industry. Engineers must avoid catastrophic
failure which could result in loss of property, damage to the environment of the user of that
technology, and possibly injury or loss of life. The safety, health and welfare of the employees,
employers and even the public are of utmost important. There should also be a proper
emergency response plan. So IESL code of ethics are help to stop those type disasters in future.

On January 28, 1986 the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight,
killing all 7 astronauts on board. The investigation showed aerodynamics forces broke the
shuttle apart, after a structural failure that began with a specific gasket that failed at the very
liftoff. After studying the disaster, a review board determined that exceptionally cold weather
contributed to the failure of the O-ring seal. NASA concluded that the shuttle is not safe to fly
at such cold temperatures. And also the space shuttle does not have a launch escape system.
Primarily that that the advice of engineers should be considered carefully by management, and
that the ethics of whistle-blowing and group decision-making should be introduced.
Afterwards, there was a total redesign of the solid rocket boosters, in which three O-rings were
incorporated, watched over by an independent oversight group as stipulated by the commission.
One of the major ethical factors of this disaster was a lack of effective communication between
the NASA engineers and management.
Titanic is also one of the big failure of engineering. It happened in 1912. Two thirds of Titanic’s
passengers and crew were lost because there were not enough lifeboats to rescue everyone on
board. Over 1500 people drowned. Titanic had many structure, mechanical and management
failures. They ignored seven iceberg warning from other ships. Designers of Titanic took the
safety is second place. The original design included two rows of lifeboats on the deck, but one
row was removed allowing more space and a better view for passengers with first-class berths.
Loss of 1522 lives cause of there were not enough life boats. Only 700 passengers were
survived from 2235 passengers. Most of 2nd and 3rd class passengers came to about sinking of
ship when water entered their compartments. Then crew shouldn’t have treat all passengers
equally. But according to IESL code of ethics, engineers shall give evidence, express opinions
or make statements in an objective and truthful manner. But in this case they express opinions
not truthful manner. It’s support for one on social class. Therefor IESL code of ethics is
encourage the truthful decision making. Titanic had high speed and it was difficult to control.

When considering past examples