Those who can, do; those who can't, teach. Well, sort
of. Sometimes, those who can't don't teach. Sometimes, they
supervise other people who can't instead....
We often get approached to by engineers who ask us 'what are
my obligations in supervising x (who is usually carrying out
professional engineering services, generally as an employee or the
Usually the answer requires a conversation about the background
and work history of the supervisor.
In simple terms, in order to supervise someone, you really need
to be able to competently perform the task which you have assigned
the person who is being supervised. If you can't competently
perform the task yourself, then you can't properly supervise
the carrying out of that task.
Well, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal recently
dealt with the case of a registered professional engineer who was
supervising an employee, despite the fact the engineer was not
experienced in the field of structural engineering (the employee
was preparing designs for a residential premises, including designs
for the slab, footings and wall panels).
Oddly enough, upon investigation by the Board of Professional
Engineers Queensland, the designs proved to be completely
inadequate (unfortunately, the Judgment does not give any
indication as to what prompted the complaint by the
In Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland v Moodie 
QCAT 44 Member Gordon said as follows:
 It is of significance that Mr
Moodie's career and experience has been primarily focussed on
civil engineering projects, rather than on work as a structural
engineer where his experience is limited. In those circumstances he
accepts that he should not have offered structural engineering
services, particularly in a tropical cyclonic environment as
 This meant also that Mr Moodie
ought not to have been in a position of supervisor for the work of
the employee of the company, who was an unregistered engineer, in
so far as it was structural engineering work. Mr Moodie accepts
that it was wrong to rely on the skill, judgement and experience of
the employee of the company to prepare the designs properly.
 In turn it meant that Mr Moodie
should not have been certifying the designs because he had little
experience in the area of structural engineering. This meant that
he could not effectively review or consider them.
The engineer involved was reprimanded, fined $8,000.00 and
ordered to pay the Board's legal costs which exceeded
As a wise practitioner once told me, the engineer would have
been in a far better position had he (in the vulgar tongue)
'stuck to his knitting' .
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Warranties can be risk-shifting mechanisms when the party giving the warranty is not the party at fault for the defect.
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