A new document published by ASHRAE describes how engineers can avoid disputes and litigation by identifying common pitfalls that can lead to exposure.

The "ASHRAE Member's Survival Guide--Avoiding Pitfalls in Engineering Practice" also suggests sound business and professional practices to help avoid these pitfalls.

"Engineers all have the potential for disputes and legal exposure if they fail to take appropriate steps to protect themselves in business or exercise reasonable care in the performance of their duties," author Frederick Kohloss, P.E., said. "Since disputes and litigation are costly, time consuming, burdensome and extremely stressful, every effort should be made to avoid them."

The document addresses professional responsibility; pre-engagement discussions with clients and owners; contracts, investigation of factors that influence design, planning and execution of designs; preparing plans and specifications; and reviewing requests for information, shop drawings and other contractor submittals.

It addresses the issue chronologically, beginning with the offering of a commission and continuing through the predesign, design and construction phases.

Kohloss is a member of ASHRAE's task group on general legal education. The document is the second in a series titled "The ASHRAE Member's Survival Guide," overseen by the task group. The first, "The ASHRAE Member's Survival Guide--Contracts: A Self-Help Tool for Managing Risk Through the Use of Contract Terms," was published last year.

The cost is $19 for non-members ($16 for ASHRAE members). To order, contact ASHRAE Customer Service at 1-800-527-4723 (United States and Canada) or 404-636-8400 (worldwide), fax 404-321-5478, by mail at 1791 Tullie Circle NE, Atlanta, GA 30329, or visit the ASHRAE.org Bookstore at www.ashrae.org.