This is not true for Licensed Professional Engineers in some states. I
am currently licensed in the State of Florida. There is no legal
requirement to do anything unless it can be proven you new about the
situation prior to damage being done and did nothing (especially if
someone is killed; in the worst case, you could be charged with
negligent homicide). Some of the state licensing boards have specific
language in the Rules and Regulations for licensure that obligate the
Engineer to report these conditions (is this an ethical, moral, or
legalistic requirement? I don't think it is clear enough). Usually the
Rules and Regulations will broadly state that violation of these rules
can result in censure, suspension of license, repeal of one's license
and in the worst case legal action. Unfortunately, Professional
Engineers are left to police themselves (the building departments
sometimes will get involved).
If you are walking down the street and see a structure that you are
somehow able to determine that it is not safe, would you report this?
If yes, did you report it under an ethical obligation, a professional
requirement, or a moral obligation in order to prevent property damage
and possibly human casualties? If you know there's a problem and made
no attempt to at least notify a responsible party, can you really tell
yourself that its "not my problem"? I'm not saying you have to supply
the solution to the problem and become involved with all the liability.
It can be done easy enough with a couple of phone calls. Why bother
being a Professional in your line of work if you don't want to act like
From: GEOHAK(--nospam--at)aol.com [mailto:GEOHAK(--nospam--at)aol.com]
Sent: Friday, May 21, 1999 3:52 PM
Subject: Re: New Survey - Please participate
In a broad sense, no. An engineer, like any other human being is under
duty to do anything, unless the law requires him to act.
However, the question is equally misleading. There is a difference
an engineer who happens to be on the job site for a project he is doing,
an engineer who is driving down the street and somehow recognizes a code
violation in a building under construction. The first scenario, and not
later, probably imposes a duty to act on the professional engineer.