Ethics for Professional Engineers

Rules Of Professional Conduct A Code Of Ethics

Section 1 - Preamble

1.1 To comply with the purpose of the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island Title 5 - Chapter 8 revised statute of 1990, as amended, which is to safeguard life, health, and property, to promote the public welfare, and to maintain a high standard of integrity and practice, the Rhode Island Board of Registration for Professional Engineers has developed the following "Rules of Professional Conduct" as a Code of Ethics.

1.2 These rules shall be binding on every person holding a certificate of registration as a Professional Engineer and on all partnerships, sole proprietorships, corporations or other legal entities authorized to offer or perform engineering services in this State. All registrants under the Rhode Island statute are required to be familiar with the registration statute and these rules. The "Rules of Professional Conduct" delineate specific obligations the registrant must meet. In addition, each registrant is charged with the responsibility of adhering to standards of the highest ethical and moral conduct in all aspects of the practice of professional engineering.

1.3 All registrants shall perform their services only in the areas of their competence according to current standards of technical competence.

1.4 Registrants shall recognize their responsibility to the public and shall represent themselves before the public only in an objective and truthful manner.

1.5 Registrants shall avoid conflicts of interest and faithfully serve the legitimate interests of their clients, employers, and customers within the limits defined by these rules. Registrants professional reputation shall be built on the merit of their services and they shall not compete unfairly with others.

1.6 The "Rules of Professional Conduct" as promulgated herein are enforced under the powers granted to the Board under Rhode Island General Laws, Title 5, Chapter 8, as amended.

1.7 In these rules, the word "registrant" shall mean any person, corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity holding a Registration or certificate issued by the Rhode Island Board of Registration for Professional Engineers.

Section 2 - Obligations to Society

2.1 Registrants, in the performance of their services for clients, employers, and customers, shall be cognizant that their first and foremost responsibility is to the public welfare.

2.2 Registrants shall approve and seal only those design documents that conform to accepted engineering standards and safeguard the life, health, property, and welfare of the public.

2.3 The application of a professional engineer seal shall indicate that the engineer has exercised direct control and personal supervision over the work to which the seal is affixed. Therefore, no registrant shall affix a name, seal or certification to a plat, drawing, design, specification or other work constituting the practice of engineering which has been prepared by an unregistered or uncertified person or firm unless such work was performed under the direct control and personal supervision of the engineer. If the engineer is unable to seal completed professional engineering work, such work may be sealed by another registered engineer after thorough review and verification that the work has been accomplished to the same extent that would have been exercised if the work had been done under the direct control and personal supervision of the registrant affixing the professional seal.

2.4 A principal or authorized registrant or certified employee shall apply a seal to final and complete cover sheets of plans, drawings, plats, technical reports and specification and to each original sheet of plans, drawing or plats, prepared by the engineer or someone under his or her direct control and personal supervision.

  • 1. All seal imprints on final documents shall bear an original signature and date.
  • 2. Incomplete plans, documents and sketches, whether advance or preliminary copies, must be so identified and need not be sealed or signed.
  • 3. All plans, drawings or plats prepared by the registrant shall bear the registrants name or firm name, address and project name.
  • 4. Application of the seal and signature indicates acceptance of responsibility by the registrant sealing said documents for all work shown thereon unless clearly indicated in writing on each sheet.
  • 5. The failure to conform to these requirements shall constitute the failure to seal a document.

2.5 Registrants shall notify their client or employer and such other authority as may be appropriate when their professional judgment is overruled under circumstances where life, health, property, or welfare of the public is endangered. Such notification shall be in writing when and where practicable.

2.6 Registrants shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony.

2.7 Registrants shall express a professional opinion publicly only when it is founded upon an adequate knowledge of the facts and a competent evaluation of the subject matter.

2.8 Registrants shall issue no statements, criticisms, or arguments on technical matters which are inspired or paid for by interested parties, unless they explicitly identify the interested parties on whose behalf they are speaking, and reveal any interest they have in the matters.

2.9 Registrants shall not permit the use of their name or firm name by, nor associate in business ventures with, any person or firm which is engaging in fraudulent or dishonest business practices.

2.10 Registrants having knowledge of possible violations of any of these "Rules of Professional Conduct" must provide the Board with the information necessary for the Board to render a final determination of the propriety of the conduct of any registrant.

2.11 Registrants shall, upon request or demand, produce to the Board, or any of its agents, any plan, drawing, document, book, record or copy thereof in his possession concerning a transaction covered by these rules and shall cooperate in the investigation of a complaint filed with the Board against another registrant.

Section 3 - Obligations to Clients or Employer

3.1 Registrants shall undertake assignments only when qualified by education or experience in the specific technical fields of engineering involved. Registrants are not to be restricted to one discipline, rather, as Professional Engineers they are to practice in their fields of competence, provided however, that in the event this Board shall issue registration and/or registrants in a specific area of practice, no person/firm and/or registrant shall practice in that area unless registered to do so by this Board.

3.2 Registrants shall not affix their signatures or seals to any drawings or documents dealing with subject matter in which they lack competence, nor to any such drawing or document not prepared under their direct control and personal supervision.

3.3 Registrants may accept assignments, as the prime design professional, to oversee and to coordinate an entire project, provided that each design segment is signed and sealed by the registrant or individual responsible for preparation of that design segment.

3.4 Professional Engineers in their capacity as the prime design professional will oversee and coordinate the work of other design professionals embracing those services or work in connection with any public or private utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, work, or projects wherein the public welfare or the safeguarding of life, health, or property is involved or concerned.

3.5 Registrants shall not reveal facts, data, or information obtained in a professional capacity without the prior consent of the client or employer except as authorized or required by law.

3.6 Registrants shall not solicit or accept financial or other valuable considerations, directly or indirectly, from contractors, their agents, or other parties in connection with work for clients or employers.

3.7 Registrants shall make full prior disclosures to their clients or employers of potential conflicts of interest or other circumstances which could influence or appear to influence their judgment or the quality of their service.

3.8 Registrants shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for services pertaining to the same project, unless the circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed to by all interested parties.

3.9 Registrants shall not solicit or accept a professional contract from a government body on which a principal or officer of their organization serves as a member. Conversely, registrants serving as members, advisors, or employees of a governmental body or department, who are the principals or employees of private concern, shall not participate in decisions with respect to professional services offered or provided by said concern to the governmental body which they serve.

3.10 Registrants shall not participate in bribery in the course of soliciting, maintaining, or increasing work.

Section 4 - Obligations to Other Registrants

4.1 Registrants shall not falsify or permit misrepresentation of their, or their associates', academic or professional qualifications. They shall not misrepresent or exaggerate their degree of responsibility in prior assignments nor the complexity of said assignments. Presentations incident to the solicitation of employment or business shall not misrepresent pertinent facts concerning employers, employees, associates, joint ventures or past accomplishments.

4.2 Registrants shall not offer, give, solicit, or receive, either directly or indirectly, any commission or gift, or other valuable consideration in order to secure work, and shall not make any political contribution with the intent to influence the award of a contract by a public authority.

4.3 Registrants shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice or employment of other registrants, nor indiscriminately criticize other registrants work.

4.4 Registrants shall not knowingly use the design, drawings or work of another design professional without the original design professional's knowledge and consent. In the event the consent has been obtained, a thorough review of the design, drawings or work of the design professional will be assumed.

4.5 Registrants shall be in good standing in every jurisdiction where registered or where engaged in the practice of engineering.

4.6 Applicants for registration with the Rhode Island Board of Registration for Professional Engineers shall be in good standing in every jurisdiction where registered or certified and shall not have had a registration or certificate suspended, revoked or surrendered in connection with a disciplinary action. Any person or firm applying for registration in this State shall fully set forth the facts, dates and circumstances of any prior investigation and/or disciplinary action by any other jurisdiction. The failure to do so shall constitute sufficient grounds for denial of any application submitted to this Board.