New guideline adds clarity to sections of engineers act

PEO is nearing completion of a new practice guideline dealing with practitioner responsibility in supervising engineering work. The guideline Assuming Responsibility and Supervising Engineering Work defines best practices for engineers who assume responsibility for professional engineering work and for engineers who supervise engineering services in consideration of the Professional Engineers Act (PEA).

From the outset, the practice guideline was guided by the following basic questions:

  • How many persons can one engineer be allowed to supervise or assume responsibility for?
  • What are the limitations of supervising or assuming responsibility for engineering services?
  • What extent of familiarity with the content of work is required when effectively supervising or assuming responsibility?

The new practice guideline was also aimed at providing best practices to help engineers comply with a specific exception and requirement in the PEA. The act contains an exception in section 12(3)(b) for when licences or certificates of authorization are required:

(3)    Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to prevent a person,…

(b)    from doing an act that is within the practice of professional engineering where a professional engineer or limited licence holder assumes responsibility for the services within the practice of professional engineering to which the act is related.

As well, the PEA contains a requirement in section 17(2) for supervising engineers under a certificate of authorization:

         A holder of a licence, temporary licence or limited licence who personally supervises and directs the providing of services within the practice of professional engineering by a holder of a certificate of authorization or who assumes responsibility for and supervises the practice of professional engineering related to the providing of services by a holder of a certificate of authorization is subject to the same standards of professional conduct and competence in respect of the services and the related practice of professional engineering as if the services were provided or the practice of professional engineering was engaged in by the holder of a licence, temporary licence or limited licence.

The project originated in November 2016 when PEO Council directed the Professional Standards Committee (PSC) to develop a guideline clarifying responsibility and supervisory issues surrounding certain engineering work situations.

PSC members developed a draft guideline in May 2017. It has since proceeded through content preparation, public and stakeholder consultation and review by PEO staff for compliance with the PEA. Consulting Engineers of Ontario and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers were directly invited to provide feedback during the consultation phase.

A draft document was posted last summer on the PEO website for member and stakeholder review and was revised where warranted based on recommendations received during consultation.

Fanny Wong, P.Eng., FEC, chair of the PSC, says certain supervision requirements in the PEA needed clarification. “Work may or may not be supervised as stipulated per the Professional Engineers Act, and the act is not clear on how much supervision is required,” Wong says.

The guideline was approved by PEO Council in November and it is expected to be available this summer.