News and Updates

Responsibilities under the Practice Standard for Professional Engineers Under the DBP Act


From 1 September 2024, the Practice Standard for Professional Engineers, mandated by the Design and Building Practitioners (DBP) Act, will introduce increased responsibilities for engineers who are registered under the DBP Act when carrying out professional engineering work, marking a significant shift in accountability and standards within the construction industry in NSW. While the focus here is on NSW, Queensland has required the registration of engineers and accountability through the supply chain for some time, and we are seeing similar movement in other states.

Individual accountability and liability

The DBP Act places responsibility directly on individual engineers rather than their employers, making them personally liable for their professional actions and decisions. This change ensures that each professional is accountable for the integrity and safety of their building designs and for ensuring compliant construction, emphasising the importance of adhering to high standards and ethical practices.

Key obligations

Competency requirements: Demonstrating and maintaining appropriate competency levels relevant to their field is essential. This includes ongoing professional development and adherence to best practice standards. A third-party certification body like ACRS can provide valuable information and support about certification that can help engineers stay current with industry standards and enhance their skills.

Ethical obligations: Upholding ethical standards, ensuring integrity, honesty, and fairness is a critical expectation. Engineers must avoid conflicts of interest and act in the best interests of their clients and the public. Specifying ACRS certification helps ensures compliance and traceability of products to the Standards – reinforcing trust and accountability in professional conduct. 

Quality assurance: Implementing quality assurance processes, including thorough documentation, accurate reporting, and regular review, is mandatory to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations. ACRS can play a crucial role by providing third-party certification, ensuring that quality assurance processes for the steel products are robust and effective in preventing non-compliance.

Risk management: Identifying, assessing, and managing risks associated with engineering activities is essential. This includes developing and implementing risk mitigation strategies to protect public safety and minimise hazards. ACRS can assist by offering certification that validates risk management practices and provides an additional layer of scrutiny to ensure risks are adequately addressed and mitigated.

Compliance and certification: Ensuring work complies with relevant laws, codes, and standards is a key responsibility. Engineers are also responsible for certifying that engineering designs and construction activities meet these requirements. ACRS can support this by providing independent certification services, verifying that the steel used in any project has been manufactured/processed to meet compliance requirements, thus reducing the risk of non-compliant materials.

Professional conduct: The Practice Standard outlines expectations for professional conduct, including collaboration with other professionals, clear and effective communication, and accountability for engineering decisions and actions. ACRS can enhance professional conduct by offering certification that reinforces best practices in manufacturing and promotes a culture of accountability and excellence in the construction industry.

Penalties for non-compliance

The Act outlines consequences for breaches of its provisions, particularly under Section 56. Engineers found guilty of offences can face suspension, cancellation of their professional registration, and financial penalties. These stringent measures underscore the importance of compliance and the critical role engineers play in maintaining the safety and quality of building practices.

Compliance from 1 September 2024

Ensuring that designs, resulting structures, and materials used comply with the new requirements is crucial. Third-party certification schemes, such as ACRS-certified reinforcing steels and structural steels, will be essential risk mitigation measures. Engineers should also look for the PTIA scheme on post-tensioning systems to ensure compliance in this field.

Collaborative responsibility in the build chain

Ensuring compliance and quality is a shared responsibility across the entire build chain, involving designers, builders, and subcontractors. All parties must specify and utilise subcontractors with Quality Accredited Systems and Processes to maintain high standards and meet regulatory requirements.

The DBP Act introduces a new era of accountability and precision in engineering and construction practices in NSW. By adhering to the Act's requirements, specifying certified materials, and fostering collaboration across the build chain, we can collectively enhance the safety, quality, and reliability of our built environment.

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