The importance of health, safety and risk in engineering, and two case studies.
Engineers in all fields, but particularly those with management responsibilities and those working with potentially dangerous equipment, will be subject to various legal requirements with regard to health and safety. It is expected that, as a minimum, you will familiarise yourself with these and ensure that you comply with them.
In addition, engineers must, according to the IET Rules of Conduct, “at all times take all reasonable care to limit any danger of death, injury or ill health to any person that may result from their work and the products of their work”. As with environmental sustainability this leaves some room for individual judgment about what is acceptable or “reasonable”.
In many cases, it may not be in your power as an engineer to make the final decision about a particular engineering system which you believe may carry certain risks. In these cases, it is essential that you ensure that your concerns are clearly articulated and communicated. In some cases, if a decision has been taken against your better judgment and you feel that your concerns have not been properly taken into account, you may be justified in communicating those concerns more highly within the organisation.
The first case study looks at the complexities of assessing and dealing with risk in the engineering workplace.
The second case study looks at issues of responsibility and prioritising values in the development of new technologies.