The Professional and the Environment

Every project carries some element of risk in terms of damage to the environment and perfection cannot be attained, nor is it expected. Conflicts are most to likely occur when the budgetary priorities of the employer clash with the professional’s duty of care, especially when management does not have an engineering technology background.

The Technology Professional's primary responsibility is to '...hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment and the promotion of health and safety within the workplace'.

The professional can best be prepared for meeting the expected duty of care and avoiding potential conflict by:

  • being thoroughly familiar with the environmental laws, regulations and bylaws applicable to the work to be undertaken;
  • understanding the impact of any release of potentially harmful substances into the environment;
  • planning the full scope of the project from beginning to end so that all potential sources of pollution and their control have been considered; and
  • maintaining at all times the high ethical standard defined by the Code of Ethics.

Attempting to identify all possible risks is extremely difficult as some events will be outside the control of the professional. Yet it is this ability to assess risk ahead of time that sets the Technology Professional apart and confers on them through training, experience and professional recognition the paramount responsibility to protect the public.

Technology professionals must learn how to convince management that minimizing the risk of environmental damage is worth the effort and cost involved. And if this approach fails, they have a duty to refuse to carry out illegal and unethical actions and to report them, initially through internal channels and, if this fails, to the appropriate authority.

This duty to report applies to any professional, regardless of their discipline or area of practice.

Illegal actions and those contrary to the Code of Ethics are relatively straightforward to challenge and expose. Those that are contrary to a technology professional's conscience are far more difficult for the individual to address. In these situations a structured problem solving methodology of the kind described earlier in this manual may be useful.

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