From Engineering, Business and Professional Ethics
Professions and Codes
It is to be noted that some of the organizations and codes mentioned so far in this chapter are described as 'professional codes'. It has already been suggested that engineering is a profession and later chapters will investigate the status of 'business' in a similar context.
In a profession such as engineering, whose works may both influence and strongly affect sections of the general public and even whole populations, it is especially important that a comprehensive code is developed and maintained to guide the members and reassure all of those affected by engineering projects. History has shown us that many engineering failures had their basis in ethical conflicts or in the containment of ethical issues.
Examples of seemingly high-level corruption in the construction industry worldwide are regularly reported. These are clearly ethical failures, but there are other relatively small-scale examples failures in the work of apparently good, successful, hardworking professionals which we may not think of in similar ethical terms at first reading.
For example, a reported study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of 800 structural failure cases showed 504 persons killed, 592 persons injured and many millions of pounds accruing in damages (http://www.matscieng.sunysb.edu/disaster).
The causes of these failures were classified as:
Insufficient knowledge: 36 per cent
Underestimation of external factors: 16 per cent
Ignorance, carelessness, negligence: 14 per cent
Mistakes/errors: 13 per cent
Insufficient/inadequate control: 9 per cent
Imprecise definition of responsibilities: 1 per cent
Quality issues: 1 per cent
Products & Services
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