04 Nov Direct supervision elements and responsibilities
The PE Act mandates that all professional engineering services are carried out by a RPEQ or under the direct supervision of a RPEQ who is responsible for the services.
The purpose of this provision in the PE Act is to enable early career and graduate engineers to develop the skills and competence to reach the standard required to become a RPEQ and to protect the public by ensuring that all professional engineering services are carried out safely and satisfactorily.
It is important for all engineers to understand that direct supervision places substantial obligations on both the supervising RPEQ and the unregistered engineer being supervised.
Element of direct supervision
Direct supervision requires supervision of each individual professional engineering service. A general workplace or reporting relationship will not satisfy the direct supervision requirements. An assessment of direct supervision will be transaction-based, not relationship-based.
Strict compliance is required with each professional engineering service undertaken.
The following five elements must exist for there to have been direct supervision by a RPEQ:
|The supervision must be direct; and the supervising RPEQ must have actual knowledge of the services/project
|The supervising RPEQ must have direct contact and not through a third person
|The supervising RPEQ must direct the person in the carrying out of the service; and
|The supervising RPEQ must actively direct the unregistered person in carrying out the professional engineering services. A passive or observational role is not sufficient
|The supervising RPEQ must oversee the carrying out of the service by the person; and
|The supervising RPEQ must be involved from the beginning and through out the professional engineering service.
|The supervising RPEQ must evaluate the carrying out of the service by the person; and
|The supervising RPEQ must evaluate the professional engineering services and ensure they are being carried out to the standard expected of a RPEQ.
|The supervising RPEQ must take full responsibility for the service.
|The requirement is that the services are carried out to the standard expected of a RPEQ and that the supervising RPEQ takes over professional responsibility for them.
Direct supervision can be undertaken remotely, including interstate, provided that the above elements exist. Clear records will be required, to show what direct contact there was between the supervising RPEQ and the unregistered person and what direction, oversight, and evaluation was provided.
What is not direct supervision
The following practices do not constitute direct supervision:
- certifying, reviewing, or endorsing completed design work or engineering reports
- supervision by exception where there is an issue triggered consultation
- relying on the mere existence of RPEQs in the organisation without them being involved in each professional engineering services.
Responsibilities of supervising RPEQ
A supervising RPEQ must:
- be registered in the relevant area of engineering
- be competent in and have sufficient knowledge of the type of professional engineering services being supervised
- have sufficient control over the outputs of the professional engineering services to reasonably form the view that the standard of the services is that to be expected of a RPEQ
- take full professional responsibility for the professional engineering service.
The adequacy of direct supervision by a RPEQ or the professional engineering services for which the RPEQ takes full responsibility may be relevant in a professional discipline context.
Responsibilities of the person being supervised
An engineer who is being directly supervised:
- has the legal onus to prove that they were directly supervised by a RPEQ who is responsible for the services in the performance of the professional engineering services
- should, to discharge this onus, have detailed records which demonstrate how the five elements of direct supervision existed. Examples of records include, but are not limited to, letters, emails, file notes of verbal conversations, advices, and draft designs.
Carrying out professional engineering services other than under the direct supervision of a RPEQ who is responsible for the services can lead to prosecution in the Magistrates Court of Queensland. The absence of detailed records evidencing the direct supervision may mean that a supervisee may not be able to discharge their onus to prove that they were directly supervised.
Benefits of achieving registration as a RPEQ
The benefits of registration go beyond being able to perform professional engineering services without direct supervision or to directly supervise someone else.
Achieving RPEQ registration is an important career milestone for Queensland professional engineers and professional engineers who work for Queensland projects.
BPEQ encourages eligible professional engineers to take the next step and become registered and for RPEQs to encourage eligible supervisees to work towards registration as a career milestone.
Further information is contained in BPEQ Practice Note 4.5(1A) Direct Supervision, available on the BPEQ website.
If you have any questions about registration or direct supervision, please contact BPEQ on at email@example.com or call (07) 3210 3100.