Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!
  • Students Click Here

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Approver on professional documents

Approver on professional documents

Approver on professional documents



The following can be found in the rules of Arizona Board (link to full text below if you're interested).

"A registrant shall not sign, stamp, or seal any professional documents not prepared by the registrant or a bona fide employee of the registrant."

I'm struggling a bit with the word "or" in that statement. Does that mean an Arizona PE can only sign (signature only with no seal) as an "approver" for specifications, plans and drawings if they were prepared by the PE or under his direct supervision? I am asked to provide technical review of operations plans/procedures for the company and sign off as one of the approvers to show the document passed through me. Since the documents were not prepared by myself or under my direct supervision, would I - as a registrant - be in violation? I read the definition for professional documents in the rules and the plans/procedures would meet that definition majority of the time.

I'm interested in how other reasonable people would interpret that statement. After all, Board members are reasonable and professional people as yourself and not lawyers (usually).

Thank you in advance.


RE: Approver on professional documents

suggest reading the definitions

R4-30-101. Definitions
3. “Bona fide employee” means:
a. Any person employed by a town, city, county, state,
or federal agency working under the direction or
supervision of a registrant;
b. Any person employed by a business entity and
working under the direct supervision of a registrant
who is also employed by the same business entity; or
c. Any person working under the direct supervision of
a registrant who:
i. Receives direct wages from the registrant;
ii. Receives contract compensation from the registrant; or
iii. Receives direct wages from the project prime
professional who has a contract with another
registrant and whose work product is the
responsibility of the latter registrant.

RE: Approver on professional documents

Thanks cvg. I read that definition. That's why I asked if the documents need to be prepared by myself or under my direct supervision. Did you read the definition of a bona fide employee differently than I did?

RE: Approver on professional documents

I think you might be reading too far beyond the text here. The statement you quote is dealing with a person issuing designs/documents where they would be viewed as designed by that person and the person is implying or stating that they are the engineer-of-record of that design.

In your case, you are not "posing" as an engineer claiming to have designed this thing you are reviewing. You are simply reviewing it in a quality assurance/control role, which is a very different function from the one the board law is trying to control here.

As long as your signature is clear that it was for QC/QA processes then you would be OK as I see it.
You might call the board and pass that by them as well. Each state has its own perspective.

Check out Eng-Tips Forum's Policies here:
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Approver on professional documents



[b]R4-30-304. Use of Seals
A. A registrant shall place a permanently legible imprint of the
registrant’s seal and signature on the following:

You could interpret this section as making a distinction between the combination of "seal and signature" and signature only.

RE: Approver on professional documents

I would argue that if in the act of signing the document you can direct changes to your satisfaction, then the document was prepared under your direct supervision, regardless of where you and they fit in the company's org chart.

RE: Approver on professional documents

In most cases, an engineer reviewing a document can make comments, corrections, etc.
But ultimately, for a specific design of an entity, there must be one individual who is the ultimate licensed engineer-of-record.

If other licensed engineer reviews and makes comments/corrections, it is still up to the EOR to decide if those comments/corrections are valid and incorporate them accordingly.
This type of review does not usurp the role of the original EOR and the reviewer does not have to, nor should, stamp/sign the documents as though they were the EOR.

In other words, there's always one person who sits at a desk with "The buck stops here" on it, on any particular project.

Check out Eng-Tips Forum's Policies here:
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Approver on professional documents

Thank you all for your inputs. Much appreciated.

RE: Approver on professional documents

I believe you are confusing the intent of the rules. The key part is who prepared the document. Anyone can write the report, the drafters can make the drawings, the receptionist can format the document and anyone in the company can review the document, but it's upto the PE to prepare the documents and stamp it.

As a PE you prepare and stamp drawings even though it was completely drawn and revised by a autocad drafting technician. The PE is responsible for everything on that drawing.

Another thing to consider is the junior EIT's and technicians are working directly under your supervision when they writing reports, as the PE you are preparing them. If you don't like the way they wrote it, then fix it or send it back with your comments and say whether you want to review the report again as everything in that report is the responsibility of the stamping PE.

Your post says you are being asked to technically review plans/procedures. Your task is to be a review the work of another PE or the person who prepares the plan/procedure written by a non PE? If your reviewing another engineers work provide comments and suggest changes, if you find a real error or flaw then tell the preparing PE to fix it and send it back for review before signing you reviewed the work. Just know you are reviewing and not preparing the plan/procedure. If your the PE responsible for the plan/procedure then you are preparing the document or a portion of the document and you can sign and stamp you prepared the document or the specific sections of the plan/procedure.

RE: Approver on professional documents

@GeoEnvGuy Thanks for your input. Unfortunately, in my world, it is not as cut and dried on what the PE is responsible for as it is in the a "design" environment. I, however, have resolved the issue (hopefully) by asking the document to be changed so that I sign off on the section that I am directly responsible for so that it does not cause ambiguity and I am not stepping on someone's authority. Here's an analogy for my situation (names and events have been altered to protect the innocents):

We are company that owns and operates a fleet crane trucks among other things. Bob, a non-PE, is the supervisor of the crane truck operating crews. Before every lifting job, there is a check list and plan of actions on who is going to do what. I, a PE, do not report to Bob but Bob is my superior. I can provide my recommendations to Bob and his crews but I can't make them do anything, per company reporting structure. My written agreed-on responsibility for the plan of actions is to calculate and make sure the cable can handle the loads for each particular lift job. The crew is responsible for coming up (which sometimes require calculations) with the maximum boom angle and maximum extension of the boom. The verbal agreement is that I also review the all of the action plan for technical issues and major and obvious flaws (things like they are planning to raise the boom to 80 degree off the horizontal but its limitation is only 75 degree). Bob and I sign at bottom of every action plan as "approvers" before it's carried out. My original concern is that when things go south and someone gets killed, sure we might all lose our jobs but I also get dragged before the Board to defend why I approved a professional document that was not prepared under my direct supervision. I have since asked my approval to be moved under the cable capacity section.

RE: Approver on professional documents

In reviewing your analogy i have the following comments. For your written responsibilities and cable calculation you are essentially designing the cable and providing limitations, workers are depending on you performing your task to the standard of a professional engineer, the calculation and section with cable size, capacity, and limitations when operating the crane should be stamped. This can allow for the workers to use the cable with the equipment as long as they follow the limitations or "rules" you include.

For your verbal agreement duties of reviewing the document for technical issues and major flaws, you are performing the duties of a competent worker or supervisor who is reviewing the plan to work within the rules provided by the crane manufacturer, foundation engineer, rigging engineer, client or the site limitations. This should not be stamped as you don't need a PE to look at all the rules and limitations to come up with a plan. Bob the supervisor, prepared the plan for the workers to follow and you reviewed the plan, but so could anyone else.

So when things go south, like the crane tips over because the plan was to operated outside the manufacturers capacity, angle, extension charts. Bob the supervisor and you as the reviewer are in trouble as supervisors but you may not be subject to professional discipline, unless you get caught on the you ought to have known better as the PE clause. Now if the guys ask you can we use this old worn cable we still have and you approved it for use, you the engineer who approved and specified using the cable can be subject to professional discipline and in trouble if it breaks.

RE: Approver on professional documents

Did they give you authority to rewrite any of the operations plans/procedures based on your knowledge? Or at least further interview the authors of the plans?

RE: Approver on professional documents


@GeoEnvGuy Great thoughtful inputs. Thanks! Since it's an analogy and not the exact situation, you're just going to have to take my word that the plan Bob an his crews come up with can be complex requiring both practical experience and professional judgement. It's more complex than just read and apply the rules provided by the manufacturer (although most of the time, rule-of-thumb will do).

@Buggar I'd make myself available if they'd like inputs as they come up with the plan. Historically, some take the opportunity and some don't. I do get the general or theoretical concept of what they do so if they do seek inputs, I would provide them a picture of how the load-balance system (using analogy of a crane truck) behaves from a theoretical point of view. I don't have the practical experience of what they do so if we have a different point of view or they insist on doing it one particular way I'd defer to their judgement and tell them to seek additional inputs from their more experienced supervisor. It's their plan after all so they have to be comfortable with it. All crews involved, including me, meet in a "pre-con" meeting prior to the job for work assignment and address concerns.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


White Paper - Implementing a Multi-Domain System
IoT systems are multi-domain designs that often require AMS, Digital, RF, photonics and MEMS elements within the system. Tanner EDA provides an integrated, top-down design flow for IoT design that supports all these design domains. Learn more about key solutions that the Tanner design flow offers for successful IoT system design and verification. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close