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Signing and Sealing Drawings

Signing and Sealing Drawings

Signing and Sealing Drawings

(OP)
I work for a 501c3 non-profit company.  The focus of the entity is not engineering but I find myself in a position where I need to sign and seal drawings that will be submitted for permit and eventually bid.

I have informed the upper management that we need E&O insurance.  Is there anything else that would preclude an engineer from signing and sealing drawings, i.e., that nature of the work performed in the company, etc?

As an academic matter, could one sign drawings if not employed by anyone, as a sole proprietor, with simply E&O insurance?

I have sifted through the posts but was not able to distill all of the information.  Sorry if this post is redundant.

Thanks for any thoughts!

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Your in the wrong forum.
You may get more answers in the Ethics forum.

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

IRStuff, I was always covered under companys' policies.  If one were a one-man office with a PE license, is there a law that requires a liability insurance?  Is it regulated under federal or state laws?

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Not in California, but I would think that just sheer prudence alone would call for carrying insurance, but obviously, if you can handle the risk yourself...

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

(OP)
BJC-you are right.  I meant to post this in the ethics forum.

I definitely wouldn't sign a drawing without insurance (either through the company or individually).  It seems to me that one can legally sign and seal drawings (with a licence, naturally) regardless of the nature of work performed by the employer.  If one were employed by a convenience store and had a PE (this is just to illustrate my point) you could sign/seal drawings for the store provided they had E&O insurance.

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

The drawing is what matters, not who it's drawn for.  

The only exceptions are for those working in states with industrial exemptions, although, my guess is that when it comes to buildings and electrical, my company would go outside, even if we had PEs internally, which we do.  It's just that they don't regularly do structural drawings or designs, so that's a big risk, all by itself.

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

IRStuff, I live in the Republic and was not aware of such laws here.  I agree that prudence alone should be reason enough to be insured but many engineers are without one unless the size of the firm is at least medium.

SiPaul, if the "store" has E&O insurance, read the language very carefully to be sure you will be covered.  Insurance companies charge different premiums when specific names are covered as opposed to all individuals who sign for the "store".

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

SiPaul,

In many US states, to offer engineering services to the public, you need to also have a corporate license to do business in that state as a professional firm. This is usually outlined on the engineering board websites, etc. and also you can verify this via the state's secretary of state office.

Now if you are with a non-profit, as you say, then it may be that you don't have to do this as you are not offering to practice engineering to the public.  

Is your engineering work for the non-profit?  Or is the non-profit somehow, and for some reason, providing engineering services to others?

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

(OP)
JAE-
In this case I am simply doing the work for the non-profit with which I am employeed.  There is no 'service' being offered to an outside entity.  We simply need to provide some plans and specs. for permit and bid (civil site work).  I have almost 20 years experience with this type of work and feel very comfortable preparing the drawings/specs.  

To your other point about not being in 'business' to do that type of work.  This has been a concern of mine but I don't see any reason that a PE can't perform work regardless of the nature of the business (re. my store analogy above).  If this was a problem, we could set up a subsidiary that only does design work for the non-profit...probably a questions for the attorneys.

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Well, just to cross the t's and dot the i's, perhaps you could contact your state board of engineers and simply ask the question.  They usually appreciate inquiries like that.

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Anything that requires permitting implies a structure that is potentially exposed to the public.  As the EOR, you need to carry insurance for your own protection.

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

JAE s got a good ideal.
I think talking to the company lawyer is a good ideal too. Who's going to sue you?  The owner?  That's you.
The contractor may be unhappy but you can write the contract to allow for changes in design and scope during construction.
Will the public be in danger?  If it's a storage building that's no, if an office building it's yes.
Even Non profit organizations have insurance.  Your organization may have a blanket type policy that covers what your going to do.
If your the only engineer I would advise you to hire another engineer to review your work. There is only a few of us that can do complete jobs and never make a mistake  <%^)].  Having someone else review your work is the cheapest insurance you can buy.

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Local jurisdiction has policies regarding what type of work requires professional's seal.  If the work is minor, you may not need any professional's seal.  For new construction or major alteration/addition, local jurisdiction requires a professional's seal.  They don't care if the design is done by an outside consultant or by someone from within.

For example, a structural engineer may stamp the construction documents for his own office building.

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Insurance in not required except by the client.  You do not need Errors and Omission Insurance unless the building owner is planning to sue you personally.  The employing agency is your first level of protection and perhaps they would like to purchase E & O insurance.

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Someone walking by and getting clobbered by a chunk of the building WILL sue any and all involved, including the building owner and you.

You need insurance to pay for the lawyers to defend against that possibility.  Anything that involves the public, even a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk outside your house, can result in a lawsuit, which is one of the reasons why we buy homeowner's insurance.

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

"As an academic matter, could one sign drawings if not employed by anyone, as a sole proprietor, with simply E&O insurance?"

You would also have to comply with local city, county, State, and Federal regulations relating to running a business, even though it may be non-profit.  This would involve obtaining any appropriate Business licenses and obtaining a Federal Tax ID number.  

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

I think that's debatable.  California PE Act:

Quote:

“Professional engineer,” within the meaning and intent of this act, refers to a person engaged in the professional practice of rendering service or creative work requiring education, training and experience in engineering sciences and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences in such professional or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning or design of public or private utilities, structures, machines, processes, circuits, buildings, equipment or projects, and supervision of construction for the purpose of securing compliance with specifications and design for any such work.

I would interpret it as saying that a person planning or designing a public or private structure is by the above definition a PE, unless exempted through the state's industrial exemption.

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Check with your state on licensing and stamping rules, but If you did the work in an area of your expertise, then you can stamp.  As for the insurance, that is a smart thing to consider.  I am not aware of insurance requirements here.  Here you could be an individual engineer and do engineering without having to be a professional business, LLC, or Corporation.  Basically, here you can do business as a sole proprieter, but I suggest that you check with your attorney and accountant.

RE: Signing and Sealing Drawings

Sounds more like a local law issue.

In Manitoba Canada to get a license to sell engineering services a minimum amount of E&O insurance is mandatory.
However if you are an employee acting in the course of your employment then you should be protected under the master servant rule of law.  If the local rules are that E&O insurance is required by your employer then if you knowingly violate that rule then the protection may not apply. Even if the insurance is not required then it may be prudent depending on the risk.

Depending on the amount of stamping required it may not be economical to get the insurance and simply subcontract the work requiring stamping to a consulting firm.

Check with your local association and a lawyer for your local laws and regulations.

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion
www.kitsonengineering.com

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