Engineers’ and Surveyors’ Practice Act Changes in Act 259

News | July 17th, 2016

Now, after four hard years of lobbying for passage of the modifications of the Engineers’ and Surveyors’ Practice Act, the Governor signed the bill into law, June 3, 2016.

What does this new law do? Although the bill was quite lengthy, the actual changes to the practice of engineering and surveying are relatively few.  Much of the bill dealt with changes in grammar and gender or rewording to conform with other sections of the Code of Law.

Although the bill was enacted, as of July 15, 2017, the new language has not been incorporated into the state’s Code of Law. Realize this bill represents a portion of the full Code, Title 40 (Professions and Occupations), Chapter 22 (Engineers and Surveyors) authorizing and defining the practices of engineering and surveying.

Every engineer and surveyor should familiarize themselves with the entire Chapter 22 when this bill is incorporated.

Some of the changes reflect the NCEES Model Law. NCEES drafts model engineer and surveyor law for use by all states in an effort to make these practices as consistent as possible across state lines. South Carolina, nor any other states, totally adopt the model law, but it gives states a platform from which to work.

The first section of the bill and the law, 40-22-2, modifies purpose of the law and states: “In order to safeguard life, health and property and to promote the public welfare, the practice of the profession of engineering and surveying in this State is subject to regulation.” Furthermore the bill adds “surveyors” throughout the section. Surveyors had been inadvertently left out in the past.

Section 40 22 10 deals with the Registration Board. The changes here designate that of the five PE positions, at least two must be actively practicing engineering. (Already in the law, one of the two land surveyor members must be actively practicing surveying.)  Also, in this section requirements for surveyors was modified. Surveyor board members now must “have been in responsible charge of important surveying work for at least five years, which may include teaching surveying in an academic setting.

Section 40 22 20 defines many terms found in the bill. Approved engineering curriculum was modified to the following: “means an engineering program of four or more years determined by the board to be substantially equivalent to that of an EAC/ABET accredited curriculum or the NCEES Engineering Education Standard.

The definition of “Emeritus engineer or surveyor  was changed to require that one has to have been registered for 15 consecutive years or longer and who is 65 or older and who has retired from active practice.

An important change in the law occurs in this section. The definition of the practice of engineering is changed to include chemical, environmental and commissioning to conform with the NCEES model law.

The new definition reads: “’Practice of engineering’ means any service or creative work, the adequate performance of which requires engineering education, training, and experience in the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences to such services or creative work as commissioning, consultation, investigation, expert technical testimony, evaluation, design and design coordination of engineering works and systems, design for development and use of land and water, performing engineering surveys and studies, and the review of construction for the purpose of monitoring compliance with drawings and specifications, any of which embraces such services or work, either public or private, in connection with any utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, work systems projects, and industrial or consumer products or equipment of control systems, chemical, communications, mechanical, electrical, environmental, hydraulic, pneumatic, or thermal nature, insofar as they involve safeguarding life, health, or property, and including such other professional services as may be necessary to the planning, progress, and completion of any engineering services. The mere execution, as a contractor, of work designed by a professional engineer or supervision of the construction of such work as a foreman or superintendent is not considered the practice of engineering. A person must be construed to practice or offer to practice engineering, within the meaning and intent of this chapter who: (a)    practices any branch of the profession or discipline of engineering; (b)    by verbal claim, sign, advertisement, letterhead, card, or in any other way represents himself to be a professional engineer or through the use of some other title implies that he is a professional engineer or that he is licensed under this chapter; or (c)    holds himself out as able to perform or does perform any engineering service or work or any other professional service designated by the practitioner or which is recognized as engineering.”

Section 40 22 75, “waiver of licensing requirements during emergencies” was modified. This section now reads: “The board may waive all licensing and credentialing requirements of this chapter during a declared national or state public emergency, not to exceed 90 days.”

Section 40 22 220 deals with qualification requirements to become a registered engineer. Those counseling or mentoring unregistered engineering graduates should read this section to know the requirements for licensure.

For land surveyors, Section 40 22 225, the law now specifies that applicants for licensure as a surveyor one “must take a state-specific examinations the board considers necessary to establish that his qualifications satisfy the requirements of this chapter and regulations promulgated pursuant to this chapter.”

Section 40 22 230 deals with examinations for engineers and surveyors. Now there are limits to the number of times the examinations may be taken without further training or fees.  “A candidate who has failed the examination may apply for reexamination after payment of applicable examinations fees and after a period of time determined by the board, but no earlier that three months following the date of failed examination and no more than three times in one calendar year. A candidate for licensure who has failed the same topical examination two times shall provide evidence satisfactory to the board that the candidate has taken additional undergraduate courses, attended seminars, or accomplished self-study to enhance his prospects of passing the exam. A candidate who has failed three times must submit a new application.”

Section 40 22 250 covers Certificates of Authorization, and the important change in this section requires that “the principal place of business and each branch office must have a “resident professional engineer in responsible charge or engineering or a resident professional surveyor in responsible charge of field and office surveying work profiled. . . . The resident professional engineer or resident professional surveyor is considered in residence in only one place of business at a given time.”

Section 40 22 260, Temporary licenses and certificates of authorization has some changes. The new law limits temporary COAs  to work on one project in the state for period not to exceed one year. This section also allows plans to be sealed with the registrants home state seal.

Section 40-22-270 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding “ The seal and signature of a licensee certifies that the document was prepared by the licensee or his agent. For prototypical documents, the seal and signature of a licensee indicates that he has sufficiently reviewed the document and is able to fully coordinate and assume responsibility for application of the plans.”

Section 40 22 280 is the section on utility and industry exemptions. In each case the term “regular”  is changed to “full-time, non-temporary” employees.

Also, this section contains  exemptions for certain buildings that do not require an engineers’ stamp.

This new section reads: “ If drawings and specifications are signed by the authors with the true title of their occupations, this chapter does not apply to the preparation of plans and specifications for:

(1)    farm buildings not designed or used for human occupancy;  (2)    buildings and structures not requiring a permit by the authority having jurisdiction, except that buildings and structures classified as assembly, business, educational, factory and industrial, high hazard, institutional, mercantile, storage, and utility occupancies or uses in the International Code Series, as adopted by the State of South Carolina, regardless of size or area, are not exempt from the provisions of this chapter; (3)    one- and two-family dwellings in compliance with the prescriptive requirements of the International Residential Code, as adopted by the State of South Carolina. All other buildings and structures classified as residential occupancies or uses in the International Code Series and that are beyond the scope of the International Residential Code are not exempt from the provisions of this chapter; and  (4)    alterations to a building to which this chapter does not apply, if the alterations do not result in a change which would otherwise place the building under the application of this chapter. (C)    This subsection may not be construed to prejudice a law, ordinance, regulation, or other directive enacted by another political body or a requirement by a contracting authority which would otherwise require preparation of plans and specifications under the responsible charge of a professional engineer or professional surveyor.”

The last section where changes were made is 40 22 290. It specifies a section of nontechnical maps, those maps that do not have to be prepared by a registered land surveyor.

© 2014 ACEC of South Carolina