Companies and organizations are normally governed by ethics. This means that the actions and conducts of workers should be in line with an organization’s code of ethics. To some extent, organizations usually state what they consider to be right or wrong depending on their stipulated rules and policies. “Ethics can be defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation” (Kinicki and Kreitner). Ethical behavior is usually influenced by legal interpretations, individual, and organizational factors. This paper discusses engineering ethics.
Ethics provide guidelines that enable an engineer to achieve his set targets and objectives. For example, they are important elements in achieving the vision of an organization. Ethics makes it possible for engineers to avoid challenges before they occur. It is decisive for a given engineer to uphold ethical reputation in his or her profession. The core principles which an engineer is supposed to uphold are “to maintain the safety, health, and welfare of the public, perform services only in areas of their competence, and serve each company or client as truthful agents or trustees” (Harris and Pritchard 45). Besides this, engineers should stay away from deceptive actions that can lead to fraud and accidents.
Decision making is a significant aspect of any engineer’s daily activities. This is because circumstances often arise that demand proper thinking and actions (National Society of Professional Engineers 2). This implies that ethical decisions can have serious ramifications. Due to the emergence of numerous sophisticated technologies, it is therefore imperative for engineers to have a moral responsibility to think about the outcomes of their choices.
During emergency situations, it necessary for engineers to have a clear judgment especially when trying to resolve a disaster problem. “When a safety problem is a concern it may be easy to not report it; however, an engineer has an ethical responsibility to report all safety issues” (Martin 149). Several accidents and damages have occurred in the past due to the violation of ethical guidelines by some engineers. For instance, many structural failures that occurred in the twentieth were closely linked to unscrupulous engineering practices.
In 1879, a serious accident occurred in Scotland when the Tay Bridge was ravaged by a fierce storm. When the situation was examined, it was detected that several flaws in construction culminated into the accident. In this case, faulty designs and gross violation of construction procedures were identified as the key unethical practices that had been conducted by Bouch Thomas, who had been contacted to install the bridge.
Another accident of this nature occurred later in 1907, when a major accident took place on the Quebec Bridge-one of the major bridges in France. The collapse of this bridge had profound effects, which are still felt at present. Many ethical questions were raised with regard to this accident. For example, it was noted that engineers were given excess powers during the construction project of the Bridge. The Boston Molasses Accident is another worth mentioning accident that was linked to violation of ethical practices. This accident occurred in 1919, and it was characterized by a serious molasses spillage that was extremely difficult to clean up. Although the above mentioned incidences had serious outcomes, they were used as lessons for streamlining engineering activities. Thus, ethical principles were recognized and adopted by various construction companies especially after these incidences.
The above discussion reveals that ethics should be upheld by all engineers. Getting ethical solutions to challenges that do a rise in engineering is quite complicated, but the right steps to be followed should be obvious. Every engineer has to encounter an ethical dilemma at one point in his working profession. Therefore, it is necessary for engineers to correctly execute their tasks. In engineering decision making is really valued because poor decisions can greatly interfere with public safety. Therefore, “an engineer willing to keep his job, should protect his company, protect the public and stay out of prison” (National Society of Professional Engineers 2).