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ENGINEERING ETHICS: SAFETY
The case study is about the safety of the public and the role engineers have to play to ensure their safety. Safety is fundamental to the design of services, systems, and artifacts. Engineering is not only about designing technologies but about the safety wellbeing and comfort of the public who come in contact with the design and those affected by it. It is important to make a trade off a certain amount of safety for a certain amount of costs. According to the code of ethics, it is the duty and responsibility of engineers towards the public. According to the accreditation board, engineers must have the ability to design a process, system, and component within realistic constraints to meet like health, political, social, environmental, safety, health, sustainability, and manufacturability. According to the code of ethics-engineers Australia, engineering must be practiced for the safety, health, and well-being of the community, respect the dignity of all persons. In the practice of engineering, it is very important for engineers to engage responsibly with stakeholders and the community. (Promote Sustainability) keeping in mind that safety is the first priority.
Engineers must demonstrate integrity by acting on a well-informed conscience by being honest and trustworthy (not to deceive the public), i.e., it is the moral responsibility of engineers to cause no harm by being concerned with the safety, keeping the environment healthy and protecting it by maintaining occupational health and safety. According to (Harris Jr,2008, p.153), the objective of engineering ethics is to prevent unethical conducts by engineers and threats from technology towards health and environment in manufacturing and construction, the ethical issues have to do with the safety of manufacturing and construction processes for the people operating tools and machinery. According to (Van De Poel And Royakker,2011, p.165), design and engineering the solution chosen by engineers does not only depends on the function to be realized but a series of additional design requirements, such as safety, health, costs, building time and sustainability. According to (Van De Poel And Royakker,2011, p.167), though ethical considerations are not explicitly stated in codes and standards the foundation for the content of code and standards are ethical considerations though not stated explicitly are health, safety, and environment
MORAL PROBLEM STATEMENT:
An example would be that recently an engineer approved his/her company’s distribution/sale to hospitals of a new, mechanical heart valve despite knowing that it has shown detrimental side effect in some patients. The public is vulnerable to the profession’s abuse of its specialist abuse of its skills and knowledge. This is the kind of abuse the engineering code of ethics would like to minimize. According to (Lynch and Kline,2000, p.204), When public safety is at stake, an engineering judgment cannot be overridden by the organizations need on the basis of technical understanding and that the responsibility of engineers to protect the public safety depends on resisting managerial concern of cost to trump engineering with safety. This is the conceptualization of position of engineers in the society. In a recent case study of the Citicorp Tower, Lemessurier stands tall, as he cared more about the safety of the people than his reputation. In secrecy, he accounted for the faults in his construction and made a safe passageway for the public.
In case of the challenger, the safety of the seven astronauts was overlooked in spite of knowing about the faulty design. There is always a conflict that engineers often experience, that is loyalty towards the profession and loyalty towards their profession. According to Pritchard and Rabins (2005, p.167), engineers must be able to take decisions wisely and must be able to manage risks. Most of the engineers choose to be loyal towards their employees who care about their firm and follow orders from their superiors without any protest. Whilst, there are some engineers who like to take into consideration the health, safety, and welfare of the public. This situation ultimately leads to whistleblowing. In most organizations where engineers are salaried employees, the conflict between engineers and management arises whether to focus on professional or individual autonomy, which often leads to whistleblowing. In case of the GM ignition switch recall, the results of the tests were ignored as the company would have to spend a lot of money to carry out fix the issue and further carry out more tests, the health and safety of the public were overlooked. The society wants life to be smooth so there will be demand for innovation. (Davis,1998). Moreover, is our professional responsibility. In order to bring out these comforts, it is very essential to physical and mathematical principles via empirical research(Baura,2006).
Due to circumstances, the product or the process might malfunction, risking the lives of people and their third users. According to Davis (2008), the society is signing an agreement to face the risks, and engineers cannot dissuade them. So, this is when the diligence of engineers should play a role to reduce the risks. However, some engineers overlook these risks which affect the safety of the public and go ahead with selling the product. In order for engineering practice to be holistic, there is an obligation which we have towards the public, employees, and profession. It is very crucial to understand the relationship between safety and risk. The risk is the probability that an accident occurs from an engineering project and process. (Baura,2006). Safety is when the accident from an engineering product or process can be avoided if the right tools and tests are performed. Risk and safety are basically two entities which are inversely proportional. We must professionally strike to minimize risks as much as possible(Baura,2006). The stakeholders who would benefit would be the company, its employees as costs would be reduced when tests are avoided and overlooked. The public would be the one to suffer if they were victims of the faulty products. Engineers must feel dutiful towards the public they must have good virtues. There are some societies which play a role for engineers to follow a set of standards like IEEE, NIEE, AMSE, SAE, etc.
OPTIONS FOR ACTION:
Engineers have many options for action which include, black and white strategy, creative mid-way solutions, cooperative strategy, whistleblowing, etc. Whenever an engineer is in a conflict, it is essential for an engineer to have a good thought process, morality, high levels of engagement to sort out the issue. If not followed, a high level of safety is compromised. If the engineer is found to have diverged from the standard of competence, he or she should be held responsible. No matter how minimal, risks are always involved. It is essential to evaluate the circumstances that led to the accident. If there is sufficient proof of negligence, the engineer should be blamed. However, if the engineer obeyed the engineering code of ethics professionally and ethically then he/she should not be blamed. For example, in the case of ford, pinto, there was a defect in the fuel system design. Ford legally chose not to resolve the faults which could have helped the pinto be safer. Even though it was legal, it was not ethical. It was unethical that whether people should be allowed to be injured or dead because the cost would be too high. They should give more priority to lives of people than money. Whistleblowing should be given the last priority. Whistleblowers play a role to expose any misconduct within an organization. However, it is bad when it comes to revealing classified and confidential information. It gives rise to a conflict. Whistleblowers have violated the ethical code of conduct which is to (uphold trustworthiness and reputation) by revealing confidential information. However, at the same time, according to the code of conduct, it is the duty of the engineer to expose any misconduct.
ETHICAL EVALUATION AND REFLECTION:
Safety is very important in the manufacturing and production of any engineering product or project. Engineers must have compassion towards people, build platforms for people and help their organizations to profit. Engineers must know that before they launch the product they must fix the issue of faulty parts and in spite of knowing the hazards towards the public it is ethically wrong to avoid fixing it. Whenever the engineer is in a conflict as to whether to follow the order of the superior or duty towards the public. He/she must convince his/her superior to conduct more tests until it is confirmed that the product is safe to use before launching it and must take into account whether directly/indirectly the safety of people is affected. Moral evaluations are very important for an engineer so that engineers can practice and live harmoniously. Ensuring the safety of the public is like following care ethics. Engineers should understand the importance of relationships and show compassion, attention, and care towards people. Care ethics is similar to virtue ethics. It is very important for engineers to have a good virtue like integrity, honesty, public welfare, public health, environmental care.
 Study Moose. (10 September 2016). Retrieved from http://astrologytalks.com/engineering-ethics-3-essay
 United American (September 12, 2103). Retrieved from http://uniteamericans.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/are-whistleblowers-good-or-bad-for-america/
 Van De Poel, I. And Royakkers, L. (2011). Ethics Technology and Engineering: An Introduction. London: Wiley-Blackwell.