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The greatest and significant texts to engineers would be the Engineering Code of Ethics. This authoritative paper is the guiding program for all operations of the individual and their duty to the people and their needs. This text is constantly progressing to adopt the dynamical role of an engineer. It was made to warrant that in a professional situation the engineer and the business assist the people to the greatest of their abilities, without endangering their safety. Society is trusting them with this responsibility.
It is made to make sure that as a professional engineer, one does not operate outside their range of expertise and so they don’t yield their integrity to meet limitations in time or budget. Stress is put on the significance of ensuring that quality work is performed and to remind engineers that they conclusively are helpers of the public, not servants to any company or themselves. Competence, faithfulness, and honesty to the people are the most essential traits that an engineer can have and when they do not uphold these traits, it could mean catastrophic consequences for everyone.
There are many engineering disasters and failures that have occurred thanks to engineering infidelity and carelessness of the needs of the public. Without upholding these codes, it would cause countless deaths and injuries due to engineers and companies trying to cut corners by compromising on safety. One example of this is the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. This accident began during a safety test on a special type of nuclear reactor, which was used everywhere in the Soviet Union.
The examination was a simulation of a situation that called for a loss of power to assist the creation of a safe method for keeping cooling water distribution until the back-up generators could provide power. The test was delayed, so the operating shift that was prepared was not there to complete the test. The supervisor then did not adhere to procedure, producing operating conditions that were very unstable. The first official explanation of the accident by a government investigation that was later declared to be false, blamed it on the power plant workers. Based on the data given by the Soviets and the verbal statements of specialists the accident was said to be caused by violations of operating rules and regulations (World Nuclear, 2019). There was an operator error that was presumably because of their lack of experience in engineering and nuclear reactors. Staff had an inadequate understanding of specialized procedures concerned with the nuclear reactor, and purposely neglected regulations to save time. According to them, the emergency core cooling system was turned off, so all control of the safety systems was transferred from the process computer to the human operators. In the first investigation of the conditions of the event, insufficiencies in the design of the reactor and in the operating arrangements that made the disaster achievable were set aside and suggested only haphazardly. It did not discuss the precise reasons for the disaster. This reasoning then was proven to be only half true.
Ukraine declassified several reports linked to the Chernobyl plant, stating, for instance, early reports of structural damages created by carelessness during construction of it that they had done nothing about. After this, a Commission of the USSR State Committee for the Supervision of Safety in Industry and Nuclear Power reconsidered the conditions and details of the accident and came to different results (World Nuclear, 2019). Based on it, the IAEA Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG) issued a supplementary report, that had acknowledged that many of the allegations against the workers for violation of regulations that were made early on were less important than the bigger reasoning. This report showed another aspect of the main reasons for the accident like human factors. The staff were running the reactor at a power level that was less than the needed 700 MW. The regulations in The 1986 assertions of Soviet experts notwithstanding did not forbid working the reactor at this level. This shows the prominence of safety culture that was not properly established meaning that the reactor design and human error were the main cause of the accident.
The two views were lobbied heavily by different groups, like the plant workers and designers, and the Ukrainian and Soviet governments. Revealing the Soviet’s reaction to this incident. According to the IAEA’s analysis (1986), the foremost cause of the disaster was the engineers’ actions. But according to the IAEA’s updated report (1993), the main reason was the reactor’s design. One of the reasons there were such conflicting positions and disputes about the causes of the disaster was that the original data reporting the accident was not fully issued in the official sources. It was the team’s divergence from the test program that was essentially to blame. Insufficiency in the safety culture was indispensable not only at the operational stage but during actions at other steps during the entire life of the nuclear power plants. The lower quality of procedures and instructions put a large weight and responsibility on the team, especially the chief supervising engineer, creating way too much burden for them to share. Because of the effects of the Cold War and strains of the relationship with the West, the USSR tried to keep the incident a secret, which meant promptly closing the borders and implementing a blackout of the media. Instantly the Soviets were dismissive and in denial. The chief engineer at the time of the disaster denied the fact that the core had exploded, despite proof leading to high-level radiation levels and workers visiting the reactor. The official documentation of the death toll by the Soviets reported only 31 deaths caused by this disaster while in reality it is thought to be much more (express, 2019) revealing how the government at the time worked hard to try and cover it up and pretend it did not happen which is more dangerous because if they did cover it up and no information was leaked then the world would not have been as shaken and engineers around the world would not have been reminded of how important maintaining a safety culture and a code of ethics is to their jobs. People would not have learned about this catastrophic mistake and the only reason we learn about history is to learn from it and make sure it does not happen again.
If there was a specific code of ethics that was implemented it would have prevented this disaster from occurring. Having this code of ethics would have instilled a greater safety culture that would have stopped the workers from acting so irrationally and would have prevented the construction workers from neglecting their duties and perform the meticulous part of their jobs properly and not cut corners. This culture of safety would have put greater pressure on them to act in ways that promote public safety. Since the most prevalent ethics that was breached were “fidelity to public needs”, and “devotion to high ideals of personal honour and professional integrity, knowledge of developments in the area of professional engineering relevant to any services that are undertaken”,(Ontario’s professional Engineers Act, 1990) which were breached when the people in charge of construction of the Chernobyl plant started cutting corners and putting a greater importance and priority of completing the job rather than doing it well. Having employees and the main engineer as ones who were not qualified and did not have enough training on the job breaches the codes mentioned above as well as “competence in the performance of any professional engineering services that are undertaken” (Ontario’s Professional Engineers Act, 1990). If there were a code that prohibited these things and made the people and professionals more accountable for their actions, it would at least have made them think twice about it.
Since Canada started the Code of Ethics for Professional Engineers, engineers are now held responsible for their actions by law. The Professional Engineers of Ontario explained that the Code of Ethics is in place to keep engineers accountable for any acts of negligence that they may perform and calls for them to perform engineering work to the best of their ability. Although the Chernobyl disaster opened a lot of eyes and aided in the development of the Engineering Code of Ethics, engineering failures like these continued to occur with recent examples such as Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster This confirms the requirement for an ever-changing Engineering Code of Ethics, this is because it helps to increase the pressure on companies and engineers to not cut corners, and to take accountability for their actions. This will generate a greater and more rich engineering future for everyone. The Code of Ethics for Professional Engineers in Ontario is an excellent illustration of how much engineers have evolved and how much further engineers need to go to keep society safe as the world continuously develops and the demand for qualified engineers increases. Being an engineer comes with a vast quantity of obligation, and by holding them to a distinguished degree of work, by holding them accountable for their actions, it helps produce more competent engineers for the future. These ethical standards will help to ensure that a catastrophic event like the Chernobyl disaster that has had lasting effects on humans and took the lives of many innocent people will not happen again.
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