NSPE Responds to Risk Potential in Model Code

January/February 2016

PE Report
NSPE Responds to Risk Potential in Model Code

Thanks to an NSPE recommendation, a potential liability risk to professional engineers has been removed from a new practice model document designed to address climate change and infrastructure resiliency.

According to NSPE, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations’ practice model contained provisions that could have created a new standard of care for PEs that far exceeded their duties and responsibilities. Though NSPE believed the original model was a thoughtful document on an important issue— addressing the increasing challenges posed by climate change to infrastructure resiliency—it would have conflicted with existing law and standards, and exposed PEs to increased claims and litigation. The model’s global scope and policy direction aimed at the highest management levels of public- and private- sector projects made the need for a revision even more important.

NSPE worked with other member organizations of the American Association of Engineering Societies to draft a document designed to advance awareness and discussion within the profession about climate change and infrastructure resiliency. The document also provides general guidance that can be adapted to the specific legal and regulatory environment that is unique to each nation, state, or municipality.

The revisions, which were approved by AAES, will ensure that the document will not create a new standard of care that is unreasonable, nor claims and liability risk. To avoid the implication that the document is changing the standard of care, AAES recommended adoption of the document as a “white paper” rather than a “model code.” The revised document clarifies its limited intent, stating that the document is aspirational in nature and not intended to change the standard of care.

The document was scheduled for final review and approval by the WFEO General Assembly in December.