ProfessionalEngineer and Laws
Withthe range of operation being quite broad, it is vital for engineersto observe various legislations and statutes while undertaking theirduties. Since the scope of law is also quite diverse, engineers oughtto understand legal aspects related to the particular engineeringprofession. For instance, a civil engineer must have the knowledge oflaws related to the practice so as to adhere to them. An engineershould be knowledgeable of the existing provincial and federal lawsrelevant to his/her practice as well as amendments involved. In thatregard, several statues exist all relevant to the engineeringpractice. One such statute is the Professional Engineers Act ofOntario. This paper will look to outline the PEO report in relationto the “Walkerton’s inquiry”. Back in 2000, Walkerton’sdrinking water systems were infected with bacteria leaving roughlyseven people dead and over 2,300 sick. The PEO report was meant tooutline some of the causes of the event as well as responsiblepersons. This paper will therefore discuss the provincial and federalstatutes in relation to the above case. It will also give the guidingprinciples and elaborate why engineers tend to be responsible andaccountable in water supply management. Potential liabilities in thelaw of torts pertaining engineer’s acts or negligence will also bediscussed.
TheFederal and Provincial statues related to this case include OntarioWater Resources law, Environmental Assessment Act, Building Code Act,Environmental Protection Act and Drainage Act.
TheOntario Water Resources Act is the core legislative instrumentutilized in management of water resources. It protects waterresources including prohibition against releasing effluents intowater bodies that may affect the quality of water. It covers rivers,lakes, streams, springs, wells, reservoirs among other watercourses.The act does not impede Professional Engineers Act in relation toduties accrued to professional engineers. In accordance to the act,quality of water supplies, ambient water as well as sewage treatmenteffluents are well specified. In accordance to the PEO, thisparticular Act had several deficiencies, including lack of expirydates entailing approval certificates and lack of approval fromprofessional engineers.
TheOntario drinking water protection act sets the least amount of watertreatment, impurities to be tested and the frequency. The regulationassigns professional engineers tasks in relation to waterworks,certificate approval among others.
TheEnvironmental Protection Act covers the environmental aspects such asland, water and air. The act forbids discharge of impurities into thenatural environment with water being part of it. It broadly coverssystems discharging indirectly into waterways like soils or sewagesystems. Engineers are given certain duties under the Act though theyare not entirely named in it.
Anothervital act is the Environmental Assessment Act that governs building,design and plan of water and sewage. Though engineers are notdirectly mentioned in the act, they must observe the requirementsentailed in the act. Two kinds of assessment are involved in this acti.e. Class Environment Assessments that involve routinely undertakenprojects like sewage treatment plants and water supply. TheIndividual Environment Assessment. The Drainage and Building codeActs are also vital within Ontario.
Therelevant PEO Professional guidelines involve the code of ethics thatgoverns professional conduct in relation to society, employers,colleagues, engineering profession and clients. Report writing, duediligence, communication and the engineers seal are all guidingprinciples. The professional should act with loyalty and fairness,fidelity to needs of the public, competence in the profession andappropriate knowledge on developments within the area of profession.The professional also ought to be devoted to high ideals andintegrity. The guiding principles with regard to the environmentalduties ensured professional engineers proposed regulatory alterationsto address the ecological issues. Responsive of environmental guard,record of site condition and water resources acts are some of thevital acts. The profession should ensure all aspects involving saferwaters are adhered to.
Engineersare responsible for drinking water and management since the designand maintenance actions are ascribed to them. It is their duty tomaintain safer drinking waters. They are involved in all theprocesses involved in provision of water i.e. civil engineers inconstruction, chemical engineers in treatment of water among others.It is evidently clear that, their duties cut across the various stepsinvolved in providing drinking water and water supply management.Engineers are also involved in advising the different personnelinvolved in water supply. A clear look at the necessities of drinkingwater provision, shows increased levels of accountability ofengineers.
Thespecific engineering duties in relation to water include design ofwater treatment plants as well as the distribution systems,commissioning, construction management and maintenance. In accordanceto the ethics code, engineers ought to observe and uphold acts thatmaintain public health, safety and the environment. In terms ofdesign, licensed engineers are involved in planning and coming upwith appropriate designs of water treatment plants. They also have todesign the distribution systems. Maintenance is also mandatory forany licensed engineer. They help to ensure equipment are workingproperly to avoid any detrimental impacts that may arise due toimproper operation of the systems.
PEOdemonstrated commitment to cleaner waters by devising mechanisms toimprove the current state of acts governing safer waters. Theyinclude increasing public health education. This involvesconsultations and discussions with different universities, deans ofengineering as well as the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board.PEO would put more emphasis on trainings and also ensure applicantsto the PPE are knowledgeable. PEO would also increase awarenessthrough outreach. They would identify activities requiringprofessional engineers and develop scopes outlining responsibilities.They also identify expectations of the general public and devisemeans to meet their needs. PEO also works in conjunction withnon-governmental and regulatory organizations to create and refinescopes of responsibilities. PEO would also encourage continuingexcellence, incorporating feedback to better their services. Throughthe Professional Excellence Program, PEO assesses diverse mechanismsto improve levels of expertise. It is also vital to give guidance topracticing engineers so as to ensure quality of service is of highstandards.
Thelaw of tort has several potential liabilities especially concerningnegligence. The four elements involved in negligence includeexistence of a duty, breach of duty, evidence that breach of dutyresulted in the injury and measurable damages. If an engineer failsto safeguard life, property or health of an individual, then itresults to negligence. Failure to act on particular duties such asmaintenance of systems and then it results in an injury, then can beregarded as negligence. Failure to conform to the appropriatestatutes, standards, codes and regulations are signs of negligence.
Professional Engineer`s Ontario. (2001). The Roles and Responsibilities of Professional Engineers in the Provision of Safe Drinking Water. Ontario.