Engineering Ethics

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's April 2001

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There are many cases in which the ethics that an Engineer has are put on the line. In some cases, disasters may occur because of something that is known by the engineer, but is never pointed out by the engineer. This is the case in the safety of hoses manufactured by the XYZ Hose Company.

It is standard practice among farmers to use the chemical anhydrous ammonia to fertilize their fields. This is a chemical that reacts violently with water, and therefore must be handled very carefully. This chemical is stored in mobile pressurized tanks that are pulled by tractors. The ammonia is transported from the tanks by the industry wide standard hose that is constructed of steel meshed reinforced rubber. These hoses connect the tanks to perforated hollow blades that then knife through the soil, and distribute the chemical into the soil.

The XYZ Hose Company, which produces hoses, started to market a new type of hose, a new heavy-duty plastic reinforced hose.

These hoses were less expensive, lighter, and easier to the process than the steel reinforced hoses. These new hoses also met the industry standards. Tests run by a consultant told XYZ that the ammonia would not immediately react with the plastic, but that the plastic would degrade over time, and lose some of its mechanical properties. After several years, some incidents had occurred where farmers were injured and/or blinded due to ruptured hoses. The only warning label on the hoses stated that they should be replaced every few years. XYZ no longer produces these hoses, and the ads that were placed stated that refunds would be given and that the hoses were simply "obsolete."� This cases raises many ethical issues. Should a product that may not be safe for use be allowed to be sold? Why...