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Whanganui Engineer Censured And Fined For Geotechnical Work

Whanganui engineer David Mulholland worked outside his competence when designing retaining walls on three landslip-prone sites, an Engineering New Zealand Disciplinary Committee has found.

Mr Mulholland has been censured and ordered to pay a total of $13,000 in fines and costs.

The Disciplinary Committee found that Mr Mulholland’s engineering activities fell below the accepted standard of a Chartered Professional Engineer and a reasonable Chartered Member of Engineering New Zealand.

It said that Mr Mulholland, whose practice fields are structural and civil, worked outside his areas of competence and experience in relation to geotechnical investigations, analysis and design.

The Disciplinary Committee said it was concerned he did not complete a stability analysis for any of the three sites, nor did he understand why such an analysis might be required. His calculations were found to be flawed and insufficient to demonstrate the adequacy of his design.

“We consider Mr Mulholland acted incompetently.

“Mr Mulholland’s approach to, and reliance upon, ‘construction observation’ to deliver a safely engineered and compliant design solution in these cases does not represent good engineering practice.

“We accept engineers draw from their professional experience when preparing a solution for their client. However, this should form only part of an engineer’s analysis. Analysis should be informed by relevant evidence and supported by applicable standards, guidelines, and regulatory compliance documents. This is at the core of good professional engineering practice.”

Mr Mulholland told the Disciplinary Committee that he accepted its decision and would no longer carry out geotechnical engineering work.

Read the full decision

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