Ethical Issues in Risk Assessment

by Richard H. McCuen, (A.M.ASCE), Assoc. Dean; Coll. of Engrg., Univ. of Maryland, College Park, Md. 20742,

Serial Information: Issues in Engineering: Journal of Professional Activities, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 2, Pg. 93-104

Document Type: Journal Paper


Because of the exponential increase in technological growth and the increase in the subsequent options, the concept of risk assessment is receiving increased attention. Risk has been used for some time as a weighting function in engineering decision making; however, its corresponding role as a societal value weighting function has not received similar recognition. The ethical issues related to risk assessment have been virtually ignored. Such issues include the engineers' responsibility to: (1) Use their specialized knowledge and skill in making accurate estimates of risk; (2) provide an estimate of the precision of an estimated risk, as well as the estimated risk itself; (3) communicate with laymen and other professions so that they understand the role of risk in decision making; and (4) understand and respect the roles of other professions in risk assessment and value conflict settlement.

Subject Headings: Risk management | Decision making | Value engineering | Social factors | Ethics | Dispute resolution

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