Why Does it Need to be Stamped by a PE?
Written by David Smith on November 4, 2018
We run into it all of the time.  A call from someone searching for someone, or a company that can help them get a PE stamp on their design.  

But why is a PE stamp even necessary?  

There are many times that a PE stamp is required on designs and drawings for equipment that requires the states approval (like thrill rides).  Other times the stamp is required by the site owner.  This is common in the oil and gas and mining industries.  Sometimes regulations require that equipment is certified and marked with a maximum weight rating (like stairs, ladders, and saw horses).  With this type of equipment, if you buy it from a store, it should come with the markings and certification, but if you build it yourself you are opening yourself up for liability if you don't have the documentation and markings showing the maximum weight (CITE OSHA REG).

Aren't there good engineers that don't have PE licenses?  

Yes.  Absolutely there are good engineers without PE licenses.  In fact most engineers that work in medical device and aerospace industries don't have PE licenses, so that airplane you flew on, and that valve in your uncles heart were probably not designed by a PE.  However, unlike Doctors and Lawyers, there is no law against calling yourself an engineer even if you have no education, experience or credentials to support it.  And there are people who claim the title of "engineer" who may or may not know what they are doing.  

So why are PE stamps required?  

In order you get a PE license, you first need to graduate from an accredited university, pass the fundamentals of engineering exam, have at least 4 years of experience working under a registered PE, and then pass a second 4 hour exam.  Because of the work and knowledge required to attain a PE stamp, regulatory bodies accept that work done by a PE can be relied on.  

What does a PE stamp have to do with Safety?  

Often, a PE will certify that a machine or piece of equipment meets a standard, or has sufficient strength for a required load.   This is based on more than just a gut check, a hunch or an eye ball test.  Rather,  the certification is based off of an understanding of the design and load requirements, and calculations based on the properties of the material, loads, and other factors that can affect the integrity of the product including fatigue, wind loads, stress concentrations etc.  Often the calculations involve 3D models and finite element analysis (FEA) to really understand how the design will react to the assumed worst case loads.  

It goes without saying that material failures can cause an abundance of problems.   People can fall.  Heavy materials can become loose, falling and causing damage and injury.  Property can be damaged.  These are all hazards that need to be addressed, and (typically) designed out.

If you have any machines, or equipment that needs to be analyzed and certified to a specific strength or load capacity, check out the video here, and schedule a call with me to discuss your specific needs.  

David Smith

David Smith helps companies improve the safety of their products, equipment and processes.  He is an expert in risk assessments, and design safety reviews and making safety easy to understand.  He is a licensed professional Engineer (PE) and a certified safety professional (CSP).
If you're interested in improving safety in your business then definitely reach out and request a free strategy session today. 
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