Much has been said in recent months and weeks about the standards in place within the construction sector and there is a clear need to pause to reflect on the right way forward based upon clear and accurate information.
Generally there is often a focus on achieving the minimum acceptable level of performance set either by legislation or the tolerance of the client. In many cases the Professionals should endeavour to not only meet their contractual or statutory obligations but also to do what is right by adopting an ethical approach which includes a high duty of care to all of those affected by our actions including, perhaps most importantly, the end users and public.
The Chartered Association of Building Engineers has signed up to an international code of ethics; however, this is meaningless unless the professional members of the Association also agree to adopt these principles.
In light of the international ethical standards the Association has reviewed its Code of Professional Conduct and it was pleasing to realise at the outset that this Code already embodied most of the core principles of ethical behaviour.
In carrying out a review the Association took the view that it wanted to move away from the general industry approach of being reactive, and basing standards upon events which signpost change, and decided to take a proactive approach to setting standards. Following the review, a revised Code of Ethical and Professional Conduct has been developed and approved by the Board as the members’ representatives at a recent meeting. Shortly all members will be asked to confirm that they agree to abide by this code when they renew their subscription. Although there have been some slight changes we are confident that all of the members will easily be able to meet the principles of this Code as they have always striven to provide the most professional service possible.
The new Code of Ethical and Professional Conduct is themed around five key areas:
All members shall:
i. only undertake professional tasks for which they are competent and will at all times exercise all reasonable professional skill and care to:
a. prevent avoidable danger to health or safety
b. prevent avoidable adverse impact on the environment
ii. maintain and broaden their knowledge, experience and competence and encourage others to do so
iii. Observe all legal requirements applicable to their professional services.
All members will:
i. treat all persons honestly and fairly with respect and without bias
ii. avoid where possible real or perceived conflict of interest and advise affected parties should such conflicts arise
iii. observe the proper duties of confidentiality owed to appropriate parties and in all cases abide by statutory and legal obligations
iv. discharge their professional duties with integrity, impartiality and objectivity and have no involvement with any form of bribery
v. be truthful, transparent and trustworthy in all their financial dealings.
All members shall take full responsibility for the services they provide and recognise and respect client, third party and the public’s rights and interests. Specifically they shall:
i. accept appropriate responsibility for work carried out under their supervision
ii. assess relevant risks and liability and, if appropriate, have in force appropriate liability insurances
iii. notify the Association within 28 days:
a. if convicted of a criminal offence other than parking fines or convictions for exceeding the speed limit
b. upon becoming bankrupt or disqualified as a Company Director
c. if they are removed from the membership of another professional body as the result of a matter relating to conduct
iv. notify the Association of any significant violation of the Code of Conduct by another member.
All members shall:
i. record continuing professional development activities and submit them to the Association for assessment upon request
ii. co-operate with the Association and provide such information as may be requested to facilitate any investigation into the conduct of the member.
All members shall uphold their responsibility to promote their Profession and the reputation of fellow professionals and the Chartered Association of Building Engineers and they shall recognise that their practice and conduct bears upon the maintenance of the public trust and confidence in the Profession.
The changes to the Code have been highlighted above and in general simply make more explicit matters which were previously implied.
It is fortunate that the conduct of Members of the Association is such that relatively few complaints are received in relation to professional standards, and in many cases clear explanations of the roles professional can play at the outset can prevent subsequent confusion.
In ensuring that building professionals contribute to the healthier, safer and more sustainable built environment, it is critical that the limitations of current design and performance of projects is conveyed to the client early in the design process to ensure that they do not have unreasonable expectations and understand what can be achieved. As with most matters good, clear, concise communication at the early stages can help prevent dissatisfaction at the end of a project.
Having now completed the review of the expected level of professionalism expected of CABE members and benchmarked these to ensure they establish an exemplar standard, the Association is now well placed to work with Governments, Industry, other Professional bodies and the public to move forward to advise and inform not only on minimum standards but also in relation to best practice within the sector.
We trust that our members will be pleased to adopt these standards and as always welcome any comments they may wish to make.