Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

Re: California: Legal and liability - using my stamp

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Earlier message:
Even if Tom was involved in getting the project going but did not personally contribute to engineering decisions made (either DD or CD), the text still does not appear to allow him to sign.  I'm not talking about lawsuits, juries, corporate America and the like -- I'm simply referring to the text of the law    -- Dave
Well, "the law" often has aditional provisions elsewhere that modify or muddle things. Calif's Board Rule 415 expressly allows a PE to sign plans that include engineering work that the PE is not competent to do, and in fact did not do. Such work merely has to have been performed by another engineer who was fully competent and proficient. Suppose however that the signing PE really was competent to have done himself the work the other engineeer performed for him. Now do you take away his ability to sign? On what grounds?
Rule 415's provisions appear to presume the legitimate existence of a PE in overall, coordinating, responsible charge, who assembles work performed by others, some of whom are PE's, some of those perhaps with unique skills, and some may be "subordinate" non-PE's, but where the signing PE is the one at the top. That person is relieved from having to be personally competent in every matter manifested on the plans. (This portion of Rule 415 is definitely less than 29 years old, but probably more than 20 years old.)
I followed at PE Board meetings the development of the revisions and additions to Rule 411, and commented when permitted to. The staffer originating the changes insisted that signing of engineering plans had to begin when the first engineered features began to appear on them, during even the earliest stages of the design process, and further, that every PE who contributed any part of the design of any single detail on the plans must sign and stamp for that part, from the first moment it appeared. Likewise for calculations and specifications.
Her "reasoning" was based on PE Act sec 6735, as modified in 1983, long before she worked for the Board. That revision was sponsored by several engineering societies and newly required use of the stamp and its expiration date, but only on "final" plans, so as to end bellyaching by Gov. Jerry Brown-appointed public member of the Board Larry Dolson about PE's practicing "under expired, invalid licenses". This staffer is a non-PE who claims a degree in linguistics from UCLA, which that school refuses to confirm. Lest you think this staffer is a fool, the present SE Board member, who's also Board president, published an article agreeing with her that went out to all Calif PE's. No legal opinion was cited however. This staffer made a naive, absurd inference from an engineer-written enactment that had meant nothing of the sort, and whose authors didn't anticipate such a nonsensical construing of their work.
After enough protests were raised about requiring plans-signing by everybody at every preliminary stage of preparation, Rule 411 in subdiv (g)(1) was given the clarifying signing and stamping cop-out it now bears: "in accordance with the requirements of the PE Act and any other laws..." Hence the confusion.
Another one: the former Rule 411 said that the "seal" [ie, stamp] "may be purchased by the registrant from any convenient source". The same staffer, aware of the problems in a regulation of "may", in her first draft of changing 411 simply changed "may" to "shall", and altered nothing else in that clause. I had to ask the Board if they intended to make it a crime to purchase a stamp from an inconvenient source. They then deleted "convenient" and restored "may".    
Another message:
After reading all the input from the list and knowing
what I know now, I would not go into engineering on
my own.  Too late.  But I still like engineering, it's
all the responsibility that gets to me occasionally.
Hans E. Boge added, "Amen".
Well, I agree. So I've largely dropped out, and only take a few simple engineering jobs on request. Ceased renewing membership in my SEAOC regional section in yr 2000 after 30 years, and stopped following this list at the same time. Only re-subscribed to see if this list format would serve my new affiliation, Forest Landowners of California, of which I'm a director and member of several committees. Now I hobnob with Registered Professional Foresters and fellow owners of non-industrial forestland. No finer folk have I ever been around. Unlike for SEAOC, I attend every FLC convention and field event.
This afternoon (Tues) I attended with pleasure a committee meeting of the State Board of Forestry, where we wordsmithed a new regulation for Road Management Plans pursuant to roads used for timber harvesting in the woods. The differences in competency, dedication, and admirability of the BOF, its staffers and other agency personnel, and participating private interests, vs the equivalent at the PE Board that I attended for 20 years, is like day vs night. Going into the PE Board offices tightens my stomach, every time.
Good luck to you all
Charles O. Greenlaw, SE,  Sacramento Calif.