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Ethical practice is an important part of the professions including engineering and the engineering ethics guide the decision making and moral principles in engineering practice and realization of the duties of the engineers towards the society. Study start with an introduction and then discussing that Industrial accidents do have a reason or cause underlying which is important to engineers. Safety is an important consideration for engineering and certain accidents can be prevented by engineers. Later it discusses about acceptable accidents over which engineers have no control or are inevitable in nature. Engineers often involve in learning from disasters or mistakes in the past as mentioned in learning resources and avoid repeating of those mistakes that will be discussed with example of Columbia spacecraft disaster of 2003. It ends with recommendations and conclusions about the industrial accidents (Butterman, 2014).
Accident is an unintentional or undesirable happening that leads to damage and losses of the men and resources and when it occurs in industries or any nature then it is often called industrial accident (Van de Poel et al, 2011). Accidents are a part of engineering practice while some of them may not be controllable or predictable by engineers. The ethics apply to engineering and the engineers must be keen at realizing their duties towards the people in the society.
The present study deals with having elaboration of the industrial accidents and the root cause of their occurrence. Also, it aims to find out how these accidents could be prevented and what are the roles of the engineers in preventing such accidents from happening and that there are certain accidents that the engineers may have to live with or accept an important consideration for engineers is learning from disasters or mistakes in the past to promote safety of systems in future. The last section of the study focuses on how the engineers make this world a safer place and this sis followed by the recommendations and conclusions of the study (Mathis, 2013).
An industrial accident could be defined as being an unintentional, all of a sudden, undesirable happening in the industry that causes loss, harm or danger to people associated with the industry. Industrial accident is undesirable in course of employment and is not planned but causes harm or injury to workers or other people in society. Due to industrial accidents, the worker may have to suffer mild or severe injuries, disabilities and even death and this is dependent on severity. Industrial accidents do have causes and many of them are related to engineering.
One of the cause of industrial accidents include the unsafe conditions such as defects in equipment or machineries or structures, improper layout of plant, insufficient ventilation, improper safety devices, etc. and are related to engineering designs and systems (Chand, 2016). These are a major reason behind the industrial accidents. Also, the psychological or human factors such as stress, lack of motivation, anxiety, etc. may also contribute to these industrial accidents taking place in industries. Another main cause of industrial accidents are unsafe acts that are accidents grounded mainly due to human errors like rough handling of machines or equipment, abuse, overuse, removing safety device, etc. Apart from this other reason for industrial accidents include the environmental factors like noise, humidity, excess temperatures, wet floors, unhealthy working conditions, dust, etc. (Watchter, 2014).
The engineering ethics are the moral principles that are concerned to the practice of engineering and this is due to the reason that engineering is impacting the common public or people in the society. The engineers must consider the health and safety of the common publics that are affected by their course of work or practice. The engineers must take their decisions based on the code of engineering ethics and must not act in unfair manner or take decisions compromising the safety of the clients or public as they are responsible to uphold the integrity and trust in the profession as by rejecting decisions or proposals that harm people in the society or compromise with their interests (Norton, 2011). Engineering conduct include compliance with all legal obligations in the practice and dealing with conflict of interest or dilemmas in most prudent manner.
Engineers can predict the occurrence of the industrial accidents and they must make use of the latest techniques in doing so such as tensile testing, Quantitative risk assessments, etc. This is possible as every material or the engineering design or its part can bear a certain amount of stress, strain or force or any type of conditions which they must specify in advance. This will help the workers, employers or people involving in use of the engineering design through specifying dangers if limits are not taken care of. The engineers must specify the limits or the conditions of the use of his engineering design. If the client or any other person is not working as directed by engineer then the engineering ethics implies ‘Whistle blowing’ or reporting of the incident to appropriate authorities to avoid any risks to lay man or concerned public. Engineers must specify the consequences of accidents in advance (Butterman, 2014).
The use of the latest technology has made it possible to prevent the occurrence of industrial accidents as through use of sensors that alert the people about any dangerous conditions that may lead to the accidents (Langdon, 2013). As far as the construction engineering is concerned, the prediction or the likelihood of the accident is classified in to five major grades that are based on the likelihood of the occurrence and the consequences severity. As per theories the engineers predict the events or accidents in terms of probable occurrence and improbable occurrence (Allen, 2010). A simple example of this can be industrial sensors that are developed by engineers can sense and alarm the gas leakage thus allowing occurrence of a major accident. Also, engineers may predict the occurrence of natural disasters like earthquakes through use of technology thus telling severity as on Rector Scale. Thus, it is true that they can predict and thus prevent the accidents and promote safety of the concerned public.
Accident is an unintentional or undesirable happening that leads to damage and losses of the men and resources. Accidents include all those things or events that happen contrary to the expectations and are not planned or intentional. Of course, there are accidents over which humans including the engineers have no or less controls. Even though the engineers strive hard to attain complete safety from such unwanted occurrences or accidents but certain level of accidents are always accepted over which they have no control. These include the accidents happening due to acts of nature or ‘Act of God’ (Mathis, 2013) and in this case the blame or cause cannot be identified with sense. These acts are beyond human manipulations and out of control of engineers such as landslides or rainstorm which may be the cause of an accident.
All the accidents are not due to the faults of the engineers or preventable by them thus there are certain accidents that have to be accepted by them and that are not due to their negligence. The accidents or the harms or damages taking place by act of god are thus acceptable and they are not under control of engineers nor due to their miscalculations of the outcomes of their actions (Harris et al, 2012). Thus, we can say that there are certain accidents that engineers may have to live with.
Failure in engineering systems occurs when the system or device or structure is used beyond certain specified limits thus causing dysfunction. There can be various factors that can cause failures in engineering systems or structures such as abuse like inflicting excessive stress or strain, flaws in design, poor communication, etc. Wherein a failure of mobile phone or microwave may impact limited people but flaws in safety of aircrafts or an over-bridge may impact or harm many people thus causing ‘Engineering Disaster’ (Van de Poel et al, 2011). The engineers learn from recording of these disasters in the books and other learning resources and try not to repeat the past mistakes in the future. This engineering disaster history help the professionals in engineering to learn from their past and they serve as effective guidelines and path for improvement in the future engineering designs and safety of the systems. The engineering expert involve in the analysis of such disasters and in-depth study of the causes of the occurrence which helps in the documentation of the mistakes in the engineering designs and systems in order to avoid disasters or accidents of the similar nature in the future. The engineers learn from mistakes in the past and having sense of the consequences for populations if the safety precautions are not taken care of in the design of engineering systems (Norton, 2011). Also, the failure theories and testing help the engineers in knowing the maximum amount of force or strain or stress that an object or a part of system can bear thus allowing design of safe systems in the future.
One of the examples relevant here could be the famous ‘Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster’ around 2003 where a space shuttle while entering the atmosphere of the planet earth got disintegrated leading to death of seven astronauts. The NASA team went in to investigation of the causes of this accident and the reason was the damage of the thermal insulation shield of the spacecraft that happened during launch and while entering back earth at very high speed and at temperature of about 2800 F caused disintegration of spacecraft during return (Norton, 2011). This knowledge helps the engineers involved in design of the spacecraft and relevant engineering systems in order to avoid such accidents in future.
The engineering helps in the meeting the safety needs of the world in the era of high end technology revolution where people make use of engineering designs such as microwaves, televisions, aircrafts, computers, mobile phones, etc. at every point of the day. They involve in design of life saving medical equipment, clean water, safe transportation, safe energy and electricity consumption, etc. to make the world safe and comfortable. Engineers meet the needs of society through provision of software, equipment, machineries, etc. for use in a safe as well as cost effective manner. Engineers do make this world a safer place as the techniques used in system safety in engineering is based on the analysis of hazard, design of systems, operational safety and management of safety during crisis. All these techniques help in making the engineering designs and systems safer for the society (Leveson, 2014). The safety of a new system is tested at several points during design process by the engineers such as involving tensile tests, finite element analysis and other techniques.
As discussed above that engineers learn from past mistakes and history of industrial disasters thus they are continuously dedicated to limit accidents and make world a safer place. Engineers continuously innovates technologies and systems in order to promote safety of people in society that are involved in using them (Huesemann et al, 2011). However, it is also true that engineers also involve in design of nuclear weapons and war machineries, etc. that help in promotion of violence and terrorism across the world. Also, the rise of the mechanized systems, electrification of jobs done by humans, more use of chemicals in industries and the ever-increasing sophistication has increased dangers to life of workers in industries (Chand, 2016). Thus, engineers not only make world safer through design of safe systems but also had given rise to dangers, accidents and complications in human life.
The engineers work towards promotion of industrial safety based on the fact that accident rate has significant relationship with the safety in engineering of systems however it has also been proved that the accident rates and the safety outcomes are dependent on the worker’s engagement and their safety focus, as shown based on research in case of various industries (Watchter, 2013). Engineers work towards improvement of safety outcomes in industries through promoting organizations to improve the level of engagement in the workers.
Based on the above study it could be recommended that:
1. As the practice of engineering is impacting the common public or people in the society thus safety must be a top priority and ethics must be complied with
2.The engineers must involve in assessment of the past mistakes in order to design safer designs in future and thus promoting the safety of people in society
3.Engineers must involve in whistle blowing if required and involve in reporting of the dangerous situation to the concerned authorities in order to avert risks to people involved (Mathis, 2013)
4.At no cost the ethics in decision making may be compromised by engineers
5.Engineers must accept the accidents happening due to acts of god or nature but they may use the technology to prevent or avert the situation such as prediction of an industrial accident or natural disasters like earthquake or landslide in advance and informing the people thus promoting safety (Langdon, 2013)
6.Engineers must use their practice in making world safer and better such as through provision of life saving equipment rather than involving in design of nuclear weapons or the like that are destructive to entire mankind (Chelius, 2015).
Though the challenges are faced in gaining the required information but the engineering ethics is an important guiding action and code for all engineering professionals.
Based on the above study it is obvious how the accidents inflict harm and losses to people in the society and are associated with the flaws in the engineering systems and designs. Accidents are those events that occur unintentionally. Engineers work towards knowing cause of the accident in order to address safety considerations in engineering systems. There are certain accidents that engineers can not only predict but also prevent. All the accidents are not due to the faults of the engineers or preventable by them thus there are certain accidents that have to be accepted by them and that are not due to their negligence (Huesemann et al, 2011). Engineering disaster history help the professionals in engineering to learn from their past and they serve as effective guidelines and path for improvement in the future engineering designs and safety of the systems. The engineering helps in the meeting the safety needs of the world in the era of high end technology revolution and making world safer but at the same time engineering is related to terrorism wars, rising industrial accidents and increasing dangers to humans.
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