Risk And Engineering Code Of Ethics


23 Mar 2015 11 Dec 2017

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With a safe product, we have no worries of using it because there is no risk that going to occur. But we must know that nothing in this world is perfect. Any accident can happen to any one of us out there. Engineer always involve themselves with design and creation of new things which demand for a good quality and safer product. Safe Design must comply with the applicable law, requires knowledge and capability, must attempt to foresee potential misuses of the product, must meet standard of "accepted engineering practice" and must verify every final design. After the process that being followed by the engineer themselves, so it is up to the user to use it in the right way. This project is expected to give awareness to the engineering ethic course student on the term risk, safety and accident in the real world.


What can we say about "Engineering Code of Ethics" in this topic? To be simple, it is related to the engineers to produce products that are safe for the society. It is also important that they are the main role in preventing accidents of their invention. We must know that nothing can be 100% safe and perfect, but still engineers are required to make products as safe as reasonably possible.[1]

Firstly, we must know that safety is about freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger or loss. So, engineers have to follow the process or designing his product in order to make it safe as possible. Safe design is a process of hazard identification mainly at the design stage or controlling risk as early as possible to health and safety in the planning and design of products, systems or process. Through risk assessment, design option will be generated to eliminate Occupational Health Safety (OHS) hazards or to minimize OHS risks of injury to those who make the product and to those who used it.[3]

In response to societal demands for safer products and workplaces, governments, businesses, engineers and others who are involved in innovation are requiring that safety be a fundamental principle in design.

Design is a fundamental engineering activity. Engineer always involve in design, development and creation of new or improved products, process, systems and services. Hence, quality and safety in design should be fundamental in engineering concerns, not only to ensure that the code of engineering ethic is to be practiced but also to maintain a good reputation in engineering profession for better sense to develop products, processes and systems.[3]

Safe design plays a big role in design objective, including practicability, cost and the functionality of the designed-product. Safe design is the process of successfully achieving a balance of these objectives.

To ensure a total safety in a design, safe design needs an understanding of the each stage in the life of a designed product, starting with the initial conception to the end life of the product. Poor design can result in low productivity, higher maintenance, higher employment and workers' compensation expenses and reduced asset life. These economic costs are in addition to human costs of injury, illness, disease and disability.[3]

As we all know that accidents can always occur in anytime. It is usually happened on the user itself although the product that being used is already being design in term of safety and the usage too. It is case to case basis situation. It depends on whom to be blame. It may seem that engineers sometime bear no responsibility for any accident that happened. However, engineer must understand that the system or products that he is working on and to attempt to be creative in determining how things can be designed to avert as many mistakes by people using the technology as possible.[1]

As we design something, we must also consider the manual and procedure for the use of the device or technology of the design. It is for the user itself. Engineers have to follow the design rules and in fact they have to pay the risk by designing something so that any accident can be averted. By generating the owner's manual, maybe the user can use the device or the technology in the right way and it also can reduce the chances of getting any accident that can lead to death or injury. So engineers are born to help the people in the world by inventing the advance technology and designing it with the prospect of safety too.


1) Safe Design must comply with the applicable law

All the design must meet their specifications and standards to ensure a good and safe design. Federal safety laws are different for each departments or industries. For example, International Maritime Organization (IMO) has an important part to play for adopting legislation for ships. IMO's safety legislation deals with the ship and passenger while The SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) do concern with passenger safety and with lifesaving equipment on passenger ships. While for electrical field, The National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) is a set of rules to safeguard people during the installation, operation, and maintenance of electric power lines. The NESC contains the basic provisions considered necessary for the safety of employees and the public. Although it is not intended as a design specification, its provisions establish minimum design requirements. PPL Electric Utilities Corp. (PPL) has developed design specifications and safety rules which meet or surpass all requirements specified by the NESC.[3]

2) Safe Design requires knowledge and capability

In this case, engineers need to have and be able to demonstrate required knowledge about the design that he or she is about to build. They must have knowledge about the workplace hazards and any harmful effect because some of the design or project involves the prevention that may have potential to release hazardous material or energy. Such incidents will affect the environment such as toxic effects, fire or explosion and will drive to other consequences such as serious injuries, property damage and loss production. These are the basis possibilities that engineers must concern and implement ways to avoid any danger causes.[4]

3) Safe Design must attempt to foresee potential misuses of the product

Engineers are professionally responsible for ensuring that their products or system are safe enough before they are established. They are legally bounded through law and regulations to ensure that their designs are safe from concept through disposal. To ensure a safe design, engineers must foresee the possibilities about the misuses of the products and implement ways to minimize the cautions of product misuses by the users. By adopting a safe design approach, it is possible to design-out health and safety hazards to create a design options that meet both clients need and our obligations as an engineer.[2]

4) Safe Design must meet standard of "accepted engineering practice".

Accepted engineering practice is a safety issues that involve fundamental ideas about how we view the world and what we believe is important and right. A designer has a responsibility to ensure that their conceptions do not put the others on risk. They can't just create the design by simply ignore insignificant risk even it consumes lots of cost. For example, it might be less important for a small house to install lightning protection but it is a must for such a large factories or tower to do so and to meet the standard of specification.[3]

5) Safe Design must verify every final design

For good engineers, they must always find alternatives about how to improve their current products to improve safety effect besides implementing new ways of design. However, after designing, the products and finished devices must be tested rigorously to see whether the products are safe and meet the specifications needed. For fresh graduate engineers, they would be expected to work under the supervision and guidance of more experienced engineers, while they gain experiences. This is very important as fresh engineer will attempt to make more mistakes as they have lack of experiences.[2]


Safety is generally interpreted as implying a real and significant impact on risk of death, injury or damage to property. In response to perceived risks many interventions may be proposed with engineering responses and regulation being two of the most common. "Better safe than sorry" by Bruce Erion, President of the National Broadcast Pilots Assn, a simple but crucial for designers to bear with. One version of the process for safety design, taken from the finding of Wilcox will be thoroughly elaborated. Some of the steps are including defining the problem and generate as well as analysing several solutions before implementing the design

Consideration of safety should be an integral part of the design process at the various stages. Designers should assess the design as it progresses and if any significant hazard is identified the design should be altered to eliminate the hazard where reasonably practicable, or otherwise to reduce the risk where reasonably practicable [4]. As the design progresses from concept to detail, consideration of safety issues moves from general aspects to specific aspects. The most important contribution that a designer can probably make is at the concept and early design development stages of a project when project-wide and system hazards are being considered.

Another important thing that an engineer needs to consider is to minimize the inherent danger in the process as could as possible. It is good if we can excluded any potential danger in our design rather that to cope with or otherwise avoided Hence, dangerous substances or reactions are replaced by less dangerous ones, and this is preferred to using the dangerous substances in an encapsulated process[3]. Trevor Kletz said that "to eliminate the hazard completely or reduce its magnitude sufficiently to eliminate the need for elaborate safety systems and procedures. Furthermore, this hazard elimination or reduction would be accomplished by means that were inherent in the process and thus permanent and inseparable from it."

Here we focus on the specific area of pertaining to engineering design. We believe that engineering design constitutes an interesting starting point for ethical issues in engineering, both for educational and research purposes [3]. The first step that designer need to consider is to define the needs and requirements and often involves determining the constraints. Consideration of safety should be an integral part of the design process at the various stages. Designers should assess the design as it progresses and if any significant hazard is identified the design should be altered to eliminate the hazard where reasonably practicable, or otherwise to reduce the risk.

Before some design has been done, we must consider all the pros and cons before implementing every single one. We have to recognise if there any design trade off of the products. In order to build a stadium for example, Stadium A gives a more astounding structure but less safe compared to Stadium B that is very safe but the structural design is not that remarkable. Which one will we choose to build? Here, we need to generate several solutions in order to decide the best selection to choose but as a good designer, safety is always be the main priority

Hence, after several solutions have been listed with their advantages as well as disadvantages, they need to be analysed. Safer products, processes and systems will result and that ultimately benefits business and society generally, now and in the long term, because it minimises injury and illness and provides for a better social and workplace environment. This step involves determining the consequences of each design solution and determining whether it solves the problem. The aspect of the design process is connected to, or brings about possible negative consequences, for people other than the designers involved; hence it is a must for engineer to test the solution whether they are safe enough before each of product has been released. Then after completing the solution testing, the design is ready to implement.

In the nutshell, safety must come first in every design to avoid any unwanted accidents in the future and subsequent criminal or civil action against us


Risk-benefit analysis is the comparison of the risk of certain cases to its related benefits in the real world. Exposure to personal risk is recognized as a normal aspect of every daily routine life in human being. We accept a certain level of risk in our lives as necessary in order to obtain some particular benefits. In most of these risks one feels as though he or she have some sort of control over the real situation. For example, driving a car is a risk most people take every day. "The controlling factor appears to be their perception of their individual ability to manage the risk-creating situation." However, analysing the risk of a situation is very dependent on the individual that doing the analysis. When individuals are exposed to involuntary risk or risk which they have no control, they tend to avoid the risk that they faced. Under these conditions, the individuals will favor to have the risk to be as much as one thousand times smaller than for the same situation under their perceived control.[7]

Let us consider the adequacy of this way of dealing with uncertainty with the help of the simple conceptual model of risk management described by Figure 1. It characterises risk management as a non-monetized form of cost-benefit analysis.

Figure1: simple conceptual model of risk management

The model postulates that

• everyone has a propensity to take risks

• this propensity varies from one individual to another

• this propensity is influenced by the potential rewards of risk taking

• perceptions of risk are influenced by experience of accident losses - one's own and


• individual risk taking decisions represent a balancing act in which perceptions of

risk are weighed against propensity to take risk

• accident losses are, by definition, a consequence of taking risks; the more risks an

individual takes, the greater, on average, will be both the rewards and losses he or

she incurs.[6]

To make it simple, there are three kind of risk as shown in the figure 2.

Figure 2: three kinds of risks

Virtual risks are products of the imagination which work upon the imagination. The less conclusive the science relating to a particular risk, the more liberated are people's imaginations. directly perceptible risks are managed instinctively and intuitively. Science illuminates many of the connections between behaviour and consequence, sometimes so successfully that previously invisible risks become directly perceptible. However estimates of such probabilities are usually of limited value to those seeking guidance about what to do in the face of uncertainty. There are at least as many problems attaching to the probability estimates as there are to the value estimates by which they are multiplied.[6]


Accident is an unexpected event that will be interrupt any completion of an activity, and that may be include injury or property damage. . Work accidents can occur due to unsuitable protective clothing and gear and insufficient training or non training. Injury can also be caused by careless co- workers and poor lighting. The employers should provide safe place of working, safe system of working and safe methods of working. When the accident was investigated, the important part is to find out what is the causes of the accident. It will use as a guideline in order to prevent similar accident in the future. The objectives of the investigation accident is actually to find out the facts that can guide to take the actions and not to find the fault. The investigation of the accident can be conducted by someone who have experienced in accident causation and have experienced about investigation technique. Besides that, the person must be have a knowledgeable about the working process or condition, the procedures and the person involve.[1]

Most of the accident happen maybe because of some human error or else. For example, when doing the investigation, the accident is occur due to the worker carelessness. The accident happen still must be to investigate if there are not involve any injury or property damage because any hazards can be corrected for in the future apply.

Accident can be considered into a several type which is procedural, engineered and the systemic. For procedural accident, it is the most common happen and it will give the someone to make a bad decision or choice and will not follow the established procedures. The procedural accident are quite well to understood and can be minimize with the appropriate way for example with the given training to the workers, more supervision, and must have laws or regulations .For engineered accident, it caused by flaw in the design. Failures in the choice of material, devices not operating properly, devices or parts not operating well under all circumstances. Engineered failure should be anticipated in the design stages and should be caught and corrected during testing. However, it not always to anticipate in every condition that will be encountered, and sometimes testing doesn't occur over the entire range of possible operating condition. Engineered accident cam be understood and alleviated as more knowledge is gain through testing and actual experienced in the field.[1]

For systemic accident, it is quite hard to understand and not easy to control it. They are characteristic of every complex technologies and the complex organizations that are required to operate them. For example in airline industry which have a very complicated system that involve many working people including baggage handler, machine, pilot, and so on. In designing some project, there are so difficult to detect any systemic accident since there are many small and seemingly insignificant factor that can be considered. As the designer and engineer, we suppose to understand the complexity of the system working and try to design something which the accident occur can be minimized.



Case Study 1

Safe Design:

Employee received electric shock while trying to adjust damaged connector linking coin operated box to photocopier.

50mm connector jutting out at 90o on side of copier

unsafe workplace-equipment layout obstructing access to electrical power outlet

Preventive Actions

Reopen case - worksite preventive / brainstorming session with staff thru process of consultation, hazard ID, risk control measures.

Re-layout photocopier and book shelf

Case Study 2

Safe design: Nov 2004

Exhaust fumes from diesel engine at basement got into the air conditioning intakes on Floors 4 to 7, building was evacuated.

When building was first built, there was no restriction to exhaust ventilation.

With development, adjacent buildings were causing environmental restriction to existing exhaust ventilation systems, creating unsafe and uncomfortable workplace environment!

Corrective action: Building owner to fix

Preventive Actions:

Development Act - LG admin controls

BCA building regulations & controls

Building Designers' responsibility

Case Study 3

Safe design: Jan 2005

Maintenance worker received electric shock after coming into contact with an LIVE evaporative cooling system isolation switch filled with water.

Cause: Water droplets from the filter pad splashed onto the fan-motor power cable and gradually gained entry into the conduit and switch housing through gravity feed.

Safe Design Consideration:

Install a 90o elbow facing downwards at the cable entry point from the inside of unit to create the lowest dip point by design.

Sealing the conduit entry point with silicone rubber or equivalent may not provide a permanent



Case Study 4:

Collapse of Stadium Terengganu

Image of Terengganu Stadium Collapse

In 2 JUNE 2009, the Stadium of Terengganu collapse after one year of being built. It was officially opened by the Yang di-Pertuan agong sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin. The roof of the stadium is named after him in Gong Badak, Kuala Terengganu collapsed in early morning of 2 June 2009 and causing damage to the few cars that was park in the vicinity. Fortunately no one was injured in this accident.

The frame structure of the roof of the 50,000-seat stadium came crashing down around 7.30 am and none of the stadium staff were at the premises yet. 60 percent of the roof at the stadium that was built at a cost of RM270 million and opened on 10 May 2008, collapsed, including that above the royal box at the grand stand. Overall damage was estimated at RM35mil.

Meanwhile, even after the debris from the 2,500-tonne roof has been cleared, the Terengganu government is unable to say if the stadium is safe as the impact of the collapse is not known. Some causes of the collapse of this new stadium were identified. It is maybe because of components used and work quality did not meet the specifications; design factor was not appropriate; roof was not constructed properly; quality control was not carried out at the project site; weak supervision during the construction process; lack of skilled workers; and shortage of experts and experienced consultants.

A notice has been issued to the contractor to repair the 50,000-seat Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium which is the biggest stadium in the East Coast but no response so far[9].

Case Study 5:

The Crash of Valujet Flight 592

Image of Valujet Flight 592

In May 1996, Valujet Flight took off from Miami International Airport, heading for Atlanta.

Theis Valujet Flight offered cheap fares to Florida and other popular destinations. It cost savings were achieved in part by hiring other companies which is Sabre Tech to perform many of the routine operations that keep an airline flying including the routine task of replacing oxygen generator canisters in some of its DC-9s.

The canisters are located above the passenger seats and are used to provide oxygen to the passengers through masks should the cabin pressure somehow lost. The canisters contain a core of sodium chlorate, which is activated by a small explosive charge. This small explosion is initiated when the passenger pulls the oxygen mask toward herself. A chemical reaction within the canisters liberates oxygen, which the passenger breathes through the mask. During use, the surface temperature of the canister can be as high as 500F, which is normally not a problem, since the canister is well ventilated. To ensure that the canister will operate properly when needed, the oxygen generator canisters must be replaced periodically.

Valujet maintenance rules made it clear that when the canisters are removed, a bright yellow safety cap must be installed on them to ensure that the explosive charge is not inadvertently set off. Unfortunately, Sabre Tech didn't follow this rule while performing this work. Instead, tape was applied where the caps should have been gone, and the canisters were placed in five cardboard boxes and left on a shelf in the hangar. However, two of the Sabre tech mechanics marked on the paperwork that the caps had been installed and signed off on the job.

Within minutes after leaving the runway, the DC-9's electrical system started to fail and the cockpit and passengers cabin began filling with smoke. The pilots immediately called the Miami tower for permission to return and began to descend and turn back toward the airport. However, the situation becomes worsened because of fire started melting the control cables and the pilots become shrouded in smoke. The plane suddenly banked sharply and descended rapidly. The descent was so fast and causes the traffic control radar in Miami no longer able to register an altitude for the airplane. Amazingly, either through the efforts of the pilot or because the autopilot come back on, the plane becomes leveled off again. The airplane was now at only 1000 feet above the ground. The air traffic controllers in Miami radioed the pilots and attempted to send the aircraft to the closer airport at Opa Locka, Florida. Instead, the plane was rolled sharply to the right and facing nose down crashed into the Everglades. The two pilots, three flight attendants and 105 passengers on board were killed instantly in this accident.

The subsequent investigation into this accident indicated that the fire was caused by the accidental firing of at least one of many chemical oxygen generators that were being carried in this plan to send back to Valujet headquarters in Atlanta. This chemical oxygen generator is the canister that had been removed from another Valujet airplane. The heat generated by this canister caused a fire in the cargo hold beneath the cockpit that ultimately brought this plane down. The investigation showed that this accident is not a flow in the airplane's design, but rather was attributed to a series of the oxygen canisters. These canisters were improperly secured and supposedly shouldn't have been on the airplane at all.

One of the most important duties of an engineer is to ensure the safety of the people who will be affected by the products that he designs. As we have seen, all of the codes of ethics of the professional engineering societies stress the important of safety in the engineer's duties [1][8].


There are so many small insignificant factors that engineer doing that occur the accident. It may seem that the engineer has no responsibility and not alert about the law of safety and regulation. However, the engineer must understand and learn the complexity and the system that he is working on and also to be creative in determining how things can be design to avoid the accident happen again.

Many of the risks can only be expressed by probabilities and no more educated guesses. Furthermore, there are synergistic effects between probabilities especially in a new and innovative design. Because of that, the engineer must design a product as safe as possible.

Base on the designing for safety, the risk can minimize much more easierThe risk can minimize if the engineer spending more time to recheck the design cycle before sell it. It is because of to make sure that the product safe to use. Even though the price quite expensive, especially in the design cycle before the product has been built or is on the market, but the engineer must make sure that the product have a safety prevention and high quality. The prudent and ethical thing to do is to spend as much time and expense the design correctly so as to minimize future risk of injury and civil actions.

The method to help analyze and to determine a project to proceed is risk benefit analysis. This method can summarize that the only ethical way is to implement risk-benefit by sharing the benefit between the engineer and society.

As a conclusion, the product not surely 100% safe, but the engineer must design a product more effectively and follow the ethical law as a guideline.


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