The engineering regulation in NZ is a system that must be able to adapt to a changing public landscape. While any practical person can perform engineering work on buildings that are not restricted under licensed building code, it requires an assessed building practitioner to carry out construction work that is essential to the structure or weather condition of the building and commercial roofing.
The professional organisation for construction engineers, IPENZ runs a voluntary scheme that recognises the professionalism and overall capability with an associated title known as a chartered professional engineer. Any engineer in possession of this title is reassessed every six years and will qualify by meeting an international benchmark. Under the current regime, there are no restrictions to prevent engineers from performing construction work on buildings.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE SYSTEM?
It’s become clear that the current system is not comprehensible enough which leaves clients and the public more confused. There is also a raised issue that engineers who regulate themselves are too at ease with themselves and do not perform a good job at protecting the public. The initiated CPEng title has been taken as an initiative for overall competence and eligibility for complex custom design work. The title was not designed for the competence of high-risk construction work and doesn’t prevent engineers who carry out construction work outside their area of competence.
Another issue is that the majority of councils that give out building permissions often have no in-house skills to assess designs. Instead, they are dependent on the opinions of independent engineers or look for advice elsewhere. This means that they have a number of people they believe are competent engineers, this will in effect introduce a new set of approved groups.
This current regulation is not capable of holding engineers to account. You can still find cases where engineers with cancelled registration still go around handling construction design work. Research studies even reveal that engineers are not satisfied with the two voluntary self-regulatory frameworks known as the chartered member and CPEng. They perceive these frameworks to be unnecessary duplication.
WHAT SOLUTIONS ARE THERE?
It is generally accepted by the public, government and engineers that a regulatory framework should be built on trust and provide safety to the new Zealanders. This involves engineers performing duties such as pallet packaging within their competence, possessing high professional standards and being reprimanded when necessary. It basically means having confidence that engineers can carry out high-risk work with a safety measure like hearing protection or lab coats bought online. In other words, any engineer, engineering technician or engineering technologist hopes to be accredited as a chartered engineering technician.
Chartered members commit to a code of ethical conduct and about 40 hours of industry developments. They can also be held to account through a series of disciplinary actions. These steps reveal a symbol of the industry’s responsibility to New Zealanders and nurture the trust the community places in engineering New Zealand. The importance of charters can be seen as a quality mark that upholds the concept of professionalism and overall technical know-how in certain areas of practice. It exudes clarity and is internationally benchmarked, paving the path to global mobility and adjusting New Zealand’s needs.
Considering the scope of the current building and construction proposal, it can be said that engineers do not perform duties outside the domain of the broader profession. There needs to be a way to make the proposal benefit all engineers. One way is a general competency symbol that is tailored to specific domains of practice. It is available and attractive to a wide range of engineering experts that offer scaffolding hire services, work with a pallet wrapping machine. They also range from dam engineers to chemical and water engineers.
The interpretation of the safety of high-risk works would be clear and straight-forward requiring no further explanation. While planning to improve public safety, it would aim to not impose extra costs on additional routine work. Restricted engineering work will only be performed by engineers that possess a license issued by the regulator. They also have to prove that they have enough knowledge in their specialised areas and would be penalised for working outside their licensed domain.
Major domains include fire, building and geotechnical engineering. The regulator will be in charge of identifying a breach and imposing penalties when necessary. The district court could also come into play. The system directs that engineering New Zealand will perform the majority of the work and also report to the regulator. The whole system would be funded by fees.
THE RESPONSE FROM ENGINEERING NEW ZEALAND
Research studies have shown that engineering New Zealand organised a submission gotten from the discussion of industry experts. It reveals that they are concerned with how safety high-risk work is termed all “complex engineering” by explanation. Engineers doing structural work with grade 80 chain and coach bolts already work in that domain. So there is no need to divide engineering into the fire, building and geotechnical engineering. Engineering New Zealand also argued that they are in the best position to be the regulator as they have a better experience in assessing if engineers possess the overall competencies that are agreeable with international standards. All parts of the system are required to work together in order to know the system’s shortcomings and initiate changes.
It further revealed that licensing should be given to only engineers who possess specialised skills in performing duties, monitoring progress and taking responsibility. A professional body is necessary to usher licensed engineers into the engineering community. Engineering New Zealand complained that the greatest risk to the public is as a result of poor connection between the freelance practitioners and the industry developments. The perception of the proposed model doesn’t seem to add value to the present system. They believe the right approach should be flexible enough with options for dispute resolution while handling complaints. Engineering NZ revealed their decision on adopting a legislative system for dobbing in engineers that seem substandard that provide legal protection when applicable.