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Engineering Ethics

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Autor:   •  April 17, 2017  •  Case Study  •  1,440 Words (6 Pages)  •  172 Views

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Engineers must abide by a certain standard of professional behavior during their practice, this is set out by IPENZ, Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand. This report looks into a specific case study, makes a detailed analysis of the ethical concerns involved and determines the actions that can be taken to address the issue.

Metzler is an engineer who has been hired to confirm, and report on the structural integrity of an apartment building which his client, Smith will be selling. In the agreement with his client, Metzler will keep the report confidential. Smith informs Metzler that the building shall be sold in the current conditions without any more renovations or repairs.

Metzler comes to the conclusion that the building is structurally sound, but Smith reveals to Metzler that violations of mechanical and electrical engineering codes do exist. However, Metzler is neither a mechanical nor electrical engineer and understands that the problems could consequent in injury; So Metzler decides to tell Smith about this. Metzler briefly includes this conversation with Smith about these flaws, but Metzler does not inform or report these violations to a third party.

Ethical principles

The ethical principles related to the scenario, from the IPENZ code of ethical conduct, are stated below:

Take reasonable steps to safeguard health and safety of people: This code involves action to be taken if the health and safety of people are at risk. By Metzler not carrying out proper inspections of the apartment, it will greatly affect the future owners, if either or both mechanical and electrical standards are breached.

Report adverse consequences: This code needs action to be taken if an engineering matter has adverse consequences. The code requires the engineer to report consequences to a relevant regulatory body. Although Smith did mention to Metzler about the existence of electrical and mechanical standards, Metzler did not report the violations to a third party.

Maintain confidentiality: This code commands that confidential information from clients or employers in the course of engineering activities are not used for any other purpose than the intended use. For this case, Smith told Metzler that the information must remain confidential and Metzler did act accordingly. There are various reasons for there to be a non-disclosure act contained in the Code. This is because engineers, in the performance of their qualified services, act as "trustees" or "agents" to their clients. They are exposed to a lot of information and background concerning the business affairs of their client. The disclosure of confidential information could be quite damaging to the interests of their client, such as information about faulty mechanical and electrical systems in the apartment can prevent interested and potential buyers for Smith. The second part of this code allows for the Metzler to be released from the obligation to maintain confidentiality as he has an ethical responsibility to protect public health and safety. The third part of the code means these issues may only be disclosed to the person or organization, the person in this case is Smith and the organization could be IPENZ. Metzler maintained confidentiality with Smith but did not report these safety violations to IPENZ, even though under the code he was able too.

Inform others of consequences of not following advice: This code requires engineers to inform recipients of any adverse consequences. Metzler had told Smith that he is not able to carry out the mechanical and electrical inspections, which means there is a possible breach in standards and he informed Smith that this could result in injury.

Report breach of code: This code requires engineers to report matters to IPENZ if there is a breach in ethical conduct, which Metzler has not yet done.


Metzler: If something occurs within the apartment related to the inspections, Metzler’s reputation for future jobs may be ruined or IPENZ may suspend or take away his engineering license (if it is very serious). Smith: Even after knowing about the existence of both mechanical and electrical standards, Smith is not concerned to get these areas inspected and desires to sell the apartment in current condition. If Smith does not tell the future


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