Determining Negligence in Engineering Failures

Course Number: ET-2025
Credit: 2 PDH
Subject Matter Expert: Mark P. Rossow, PE (Retired), PhD,
Price: $59.90 Purchase using Reward Tokens. Details
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Overview

In Determining Negligence in Engineering Failures, you'll learn ...

  • What the terms, "safety" and "risk," mean
  • Factors that influence the determination of the expected standard of care that should be exercised by a prudent engineer
  • Two common biases that may arise in a failure investigation when judging the actions of people well after an event has occurred and has been publicized
  • Four case studies that illustrate the concepts outlined in the course

Overview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 20 pages

In creating products for clients or the general public, engineers have an ethical duty to strive to prevent the products from harming anyone. Thus when a product fails and someone is injured or killed, the question always arises whether the engineers responsible for the product were guilty of negligence.

Negligence may be defined as the failure to exercise the standard of care that a prudent engineer would exercise under the same circumstances. Thus to determine if negligence was the cause of a failure, the expected standard of care existing before the failure must first be determined. This can be difficult. The purpose of this course is to describe factors that influence the determination of the expected standard of care. Factors considered are the maturity of the technology, the public’s belief that absolute safety can be attained, the magnitude of the risks and their obviousness, prior knowledge of failure modes, biases that might be present in any investigations of the failure, and the public’s desire to identify and blame wrong-doers. Based on these considerations, a list of possible causes of engineering failure can be constructed. Negligence is one of these causes, and the only one that involves a moral failing of the engineers involved with the failure.

These concepts are illustrated with a description of four case studies illustrating failure causes ranging from gross negligence to absolutely unforeseeable events:

This course is intended for engineers concerned with ethical behavior in engineering practice. This course is based on the paper, "Determining Negligence in Engineering Failures," by Mark Rossow, July, 2015.

Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Definition of negligence and standard of care
  • Relation of safety and risk
  • Knightian uncertainty
  • Retrospective fallacy in accident investigations
  • Myth of perfect engineering practice in accident investigations
  • Uses and misuses of the results of failure investigations
  • Negative effects of punishment on learning from accidents
  • General causes of engineering failures

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 10 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Board Acceptance
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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 20 pages

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