This article is the first of many that I will be posting to help you with the PPE exam. Although these are multiple choice style questions and thus more suitable to those writing the NPPE. The concepts are to be known for all PPE exams - essay or multiple choice, NPPE or PEO PPE.
Your employer is disposing of waste material in the Saskatchewan River. There are no specific regulations or regulators against the practice; however, you feel this is placing the environment, and possibly the public, at risk. What is the first step your Association would advise you to take?
a. "Blow the whistle" on your employer
b. Report the concern to your Department Manager
c. Report your employer to your Association
d. Report your Employer to the legal authority
The most correct answer is "a", that is to Report the concern to your Department Manager. How do we know this is most correct? This sort of dilemma doesn’t really have a correct answer unless details are specified. The details specified in this case are specifically listing in the question as "first step".
It is always best to attempt to sort out ethical dilemmas with discussion and information gathering as a first step. Therefore, Blowing the whistle, reporting your employer to your Association, or the legal authority are not correct first steps. They would be very correct answers if you could not make progress with Report the concern to your Department Manager.
Red Hot Exam Tip : Often times it is very difficult to determine the correct action to take in an ethical dilemma. Look for specific details that help you clarify the path such as “first step” or “last resort”.
Your organization manages a process in which hazardous chemicals may be leached into the soil of a nearby town due to the improper practices by the Operations team, against the directions of the Operations Manual. As a Professional Member of your Association and the Chief Engineer of the organization your protests have been ignored. Your resultant actions should:
a. Ensure the Operational Manual is updated and distribute it to the organization in order to protect the public.
b. Once again demand that the Operations Manager follows the Operational Manual.
c. Report the problem up the “chain of command” and let management correct the problem as they have the power and are criminally responsible.
d. Consult your Association for guidance.
e. Report the repeated infractions to the appropriate governing body that will ensure the infractions stop.
The correct answer is to take it to the level needed to stop the infractions – Report the repeated infractions to the appropriate governing body.
This is a good question to show that we are looking for the most correct answer. Again we are not saying you should run and blow the whistle instantly. You should take the appropriate steps first which typically include updating and educating as in and also talking to the Operational team and reporting it to senior management and even asking your association for guidance.
However this question clarifies the dilemma by stating, your protests have been ignored. Therefore only one option brings the problem to an end and is therefore most correct.
I hope these questions help you prepare for the exam. As always you can get more resources within the website.
Mike Grossman, P. Eng.