Planning approvals for engineering projects is important since there are many major engineering projects going along which directly affect human life and furthermore its country’s economic growth. This means engineers have tremendous responsibilities nowadays.

When all engineers manage their project, they manage it to establish the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives.

One ethical question that arises in relation to the project management is when engineer manage their goals and objectives, should engineers put cost benefit first or safety of local community? What rights local communities have?

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This report will explore what ethical issues should all engineers must consider particularly will concentrate on ethical issues concerning safety and sustainability that have a direct influence on the design of a major engineering project and the way it is used. This report will also discuss those ethical issues through the perspectives of relevant regulatory authorities, engineer/company and local community.

Introduction (pg 6,8)

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. [1]

The argument here is that the engineer as a professional has obligations not only to his or her employer but also to the general public, as for example doctors or lawyers also have obligations. Engineers should adhere to professional codes of conduct that state, Pater, A. ; Van Gils says that engineers shall hold the safety and welfare of the public paramount.[2]

When engineer manage their major engineering project, there are important ethical issues to be considered before carry major engineering project out which are:

* Moral autonomy engineer and company

* safety of public

* social experiment

* duty of engineer, company and government

* economical sustainability

* rights to community

* utilitarianism for every parties

* regulation law and code

1. Engineer and company

The objective of business is to make money and objective of an employed engineer is to earn an income by satisfying his/her employer’s expectations while also meeting personal goals.

Engineers have specific experience and they play very important roles in major project management. As technology advances and engineering project becoming massive all engineers have serious responsibilities toward society. Sometimes engineers are given power to decide whether the project should go or should not go. For example if a company has proposed that a new chemical plant be constructed in overpopulated area. According to their pilot surveys, chemical plant in the overpopulated area will make enormous profit to the company.

However the plant would generate substantial volumes of toxic waste and the toxic wastes will cause environmental pollution. The chemical plant should be built there? What are the roles of engineers in this situation?

Safety and sustainability plays a dominant role in many major engineering projects. The engineers have to make decisions about whether the project is safe for public. The decision making for engineers are not simple, they have to make some measurements and must remember that their priority is always the public safety.

The safety and risks have to be concerned before the economic perspectives.

According to code of ethics, it states that all engineers shall place welfare, health and safety of the community or public before any private interests such as benefits to their company. The third tenets in the IEAust code of ethics state following:

‘Members shall place their responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community before their responsibility to sectional or private interests, or to other members’

Engineers are classified as professional job like lawyer and doctor. However there are some differences between engineering profession and other professional jobs.

First, engineers are not independent like lawyer, doctor and other professional jobs. Sometimes doctors and lawyer also work in particular organization system, but those jobs have authority in utilization of their knowledge. Second, generally the organization where engineers involved is aimed at making profits. Because of the order of ranks in the organization, sometimes engineers fell into a person who under his/her boss’s thumb. Third, whistleblowing in the organization is not acceptable, engineers have to serve their organization faithfully. The individual engineer should in certain cases take his or her moral and professional responsibilities seriously and blow the whistle.

As explained above, all engineers have serious responsibilities toward society.

Integrity and honesty are also important fundamental principles that engineer must follow. All engineers shall act with zero tolerance for bribery, fraud, and corruption. This means if there are some risks found in the major engineering project engineers must express their opinions and report it to their superiors and give evidence with honesty.

According to code of ethics, it states that engineers should display integrity and honesty in their work. The fourth tenets in the code of ethics in Institution of Engineers Australia [] state following:

‘Members shall act with honesty good faith and equity and without discrimination towards all in the community’

The obligation duty of company or organization is listen attentively engineers’ opinions. Good example for not listening engineers’ opinions attentively and also not report is challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986. Roger Boisjoly found some problems with the o ring and he reported the problems to his manager to delay rocket launch or redesign the o ring, but his opinion was passed with silence. However, engineers who worked on this major engineering project were also implicated in this disaster. Because there were no engineer expressed their opinions actively with 100% reliable evidence so they failed to persuade their managers and employers.

The seventh tenet of the code of ethics in IEAust state that:

‘Members shall express opinions, make statements or give evidence with fairness and honesty and only on the basis of adequate knowledge’

Social experimentation in engineering certainly arise the issues of uncertainties and risks. All engineering projects proceed with some level of uncertainty. This is because there are so many influences on the future. Some of uncertainty can be controlled some cannot. One of the important roles of engineer is mitigate the risks and level of uncertainty in major engineering project. Also to mitigate the possible serious consequences engineer should inform their employer and especially to the public. The sixth tenets of the code of ethics in IEAust support this.

‘Members shall, where relevant, take reasonable steps to inform themselves, their clients and employers, of the social, environmental, economic and other possible consequences which may arise from their action’

Local community and environmental monitoring agency

Engineers who involved in a proposed major engineering project development should encourage proponents to have an open attitude towards their projects.

The growth of number of major engineering project in the local area has increased the importance of ensuring that local communities are front and centre of engineering project related decision-making processes. The community is increasingly demanding a role in decision making, particularly where their everyday living.

The local community has a right to have informed consent as they are great importance stakeholder. This means the party who proposed a major engineering project has to agree with the local community before the project proceeded. Participation of local community and environmental agency can occur in the formulation stage of a proposed project [environmental principle for engineer] also during some environmental assessment process.

The participation of local community and environmental cannot always resolve the different opinion between company/engineer and local communities. However, sometimes early involvement of the community in the project can lead to more flexible decision making process and in long term the participation will lead to a more cost effective and better result of the major engineering project. A good participation program should identify community concerns clearly and also values, informing the community of opportunities and alternatives and developing a consensus.

The roles of company and engineers to make participation of local community effective are it is necessary to provide sufficient information without hiding anything and also provide readily accessible form about the project and should explain its effects on local community well.

For example, a company is planning to set up new car production facilities. By this major project, effects on everyday life of the local people are inevitable. It will allow of an increase in traffic, people will suffer from noise pollution and it will cause environmental pollution by the waste from the plant. So, are there only harms? There are also benefits when the new production facilities were built. When the new production facilities were built in the local area, a major business district will be developed and also new production facilities create local employment. This is where utilitarianism ethics are involved. To find consensus point between company and local communities, local community should ask and the car company should be able to answer these questions in an open and accessible way. [4]

* Will costs for communities outweigh the anticipated benefits?

* Will people be forced to relocate?

* Will there be real jobs for locals?

* Where will the money come from for the site clean-up?

* Will there be enough to cover those costs?


Generally for a proposed major engineering project, the government of a country is the one who approve for the proposed project to be proceeding.

There are some important ethical issues that government must keep in mind for approval of major engineering project proposal.

When the relevant regulatory authorities approve for a major engineering project, they must look upon the proposal with an impartial eye. Government shall not approve plans and/or specifications that are not of a design safe to the public health and welfare. And also note that the allegation of bribery and corruption must not be happened between company/engineer and government.

Also, there should be no government interference on company. Government have right and duty to take the law into the company if the company doing something illegal. However, the government don’t have right to engage in decision making of company. Government should set only policy and big regulation frame. For example, a company wants to build their production facility in Vietnam, but Australian government impeded their plan. The government is forcing the company to build the facility in Sydney. Government will think this is good because the facility will create many jobs in Australia.

However, company will think this is not lucrative, because labour cost in Australia is very expensive. In this case, Australian government should not force the company to build a manufacturing facility in Sydney. However, government can offer a proposal to the company such as offering tax benefit to the company which builds their facilities in Sydney.

Protection of the environment is both a short term and long term concern of the community and needs to be considered by the government. However, other important role of government is establishing policies to promote economic growth. These often conflict and how to balance them is a critical ethical issue.

If government approves all proposed major engineering project so that create employment it can lead high economic growth, while environment will be damaged extensively because of indiscriminate reclamation.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) document is a very effective and constructive method to assess the new proposed project when the potential environmental impacts are founded in the project.

The main objectives of EIA document are: [environmental principles for engineers]

– To encourage and provide opportunities for public participation in environmental aspects of proposals before decisions are taken

– To ensure that proponents of proposals take primary responsibility for protection of the environmental relating to their proposals

– To provide a basis for ongoing environmental management including through the results of monitoring

The Commonwealth Governments, all States and Territory Governments accepted the EIA concepts.

2. Case study

Introduction to the case-studies

Situation: Lotte Co., Ltd. is one of the largest food and shopping groups in South Korea. Lotte Group consists of over 60 business units employing 60,000 people engaged in such diverse industries as candy manufacturing, beverages, hotels, fast food, retail, financial services, heavy chemicals, electronics, IT, construction, publishing, and entertainment.

Lotte Group has waited more than a decade for the green light for its project to build a 112-story skyscraper near its famous indoor theme park, Lotte World, in Jamsil, southeastern Seoul. In the initial stages, Seoul City opposed the construction on worries about possible air pollution and traffic congestions in the densely populated area. As it tried to find common ground with the metropolitan government with a commitment to donations for environmental protection, the Air Force got in the way, raising safety concerns about airplanes using nearby Seoul Airport.


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