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RE: whistle blowing

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If the shoe was on the other foot, how would you have them treat you?  I
consider it a professional courtesy to contact the other engineer first over
the phone or with an e-mail or even a fax so you have a written record.  You
could even start under the guise that you simply want to coordinate what you
are doing with their work.  Extend the questions from there.

We do a lot of plan reviews for municipalities in our office.  One thing I
struggle with is would I do something different than another engineer, but
does the other engineer meet code?  It's not as simple a question as it
would first appear.  Just because the other guy did something different than
you would do doesn't automatically make him wrong.

If you have questions that are clearly life-safety issues, then in my mind
you have a duty to inform the other engineer.  If you don't get an adequate
answer from him, begin moving up the chain of command.  Inform the
architect, then the owner, then the building department.  Make absolutely
certain that there are life-safety issues before you start this.  You won't
make any friends unless you handle this very carefully.  By starting at the
bottom and working your way up, its possible to come across as a "team
player" looking out for everybody.  If you start at the top, people get
upset very fast and you likely won't get the problem resolved.  By the way,
unclear drawings of an existing condition don't constitute a life-safety
problem in the field (especially if they were prepared by field surveys and
not from as-builts).  All they tell you is that there MAY be a problem.
Unless you KNOW what is in the field, all you have is a poor set of
documents.


Best of luck,
Jake Watson, P.E.
Salt Lake City, UT

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew D. Kester [mailto:andrew(--nospam--at)baeonline.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 3:31 PM
To: SE Web List (E-mail)
Subject: whistle blowing


Case study:

A project we are working on involves the renovation of a strip mall. Our
client is one of the particular stores in the single story plaza. The other
renovation work is being done by a different architect and engineer.

Limited information is known about the as-built condition, so we were sent
drawings already prepared by the other firms for the rest of the building
for our review, for coordination, and to possible glean some info about the
structure.

I noticed several things with their drawings that I feel are incorrect at
the least, just from a casual observance. I informed our Project Arch (in
our office) and he asked me to write a letter outlining my concerns to the
landlord's architect, the PA on the rest of the job who the SE is working
for. First and foremost it is a life safety concern (plus I am worried that
they are doing this type of work and detailing on lots of other structures).
Second, their part of the building design literally starts where ours ends,
so their is some gray area of liability. If they do something to compromise
"our" structure, then we could be sucked into something that we do not want
to be part of.

Now I feel this is an appropriate first step, I do not think construction
has started. If we do not get a response from the other PA in a timely
matter, then we should go to the Bldg Dept, I assume.

Is their anything else I should be doing? Reporting them to the Board of PE?
I hate getting involved in this stuff but they have missed some stuff I
consider basic, and may be considered "negligent" ...  Speaking of which,
where does the law, BPE, usually draw the line between an "oops" and actual
negligence? I guess this is a big gray area.

On the subject, do other states publicize admin charges brought against PEs?
I noticed FL has it on their website. Talk about one website I hope I never
find my name!!!

Any further advice (other  then the sounds stuff I am getting internally)
would be appreciated.

TIA

Andrew Kester




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