Apart from ensuring you are suitably qualified for the job and suitably equipped for your work a most fundamental part of the inspection service is to READ and UNDERSTAND the client instructions.
A Nomination of Services is, in fact, a legal document. The Client Instructions are a contract and as soon as you send your agreement to perform the inspection you are entering into a binding contract that insists you will perform according to those instructions.
I have not heard of an oil company or oil trader imposing breach of contract against their chosen inspector, in a court of law, but, you could always be the first!
However, I have certainly known inspectors and/or inspection companies to be blocked from working for a particular client when the inspector has failed to satisfy the requirements in the nomination.
That situation is not good for your reputation or your bank balance.
My first piece of advice to any inspector, inspection manager, coordinator or dispatcher is to READ, read, and READ again the full Client Instructions contained in the Nomination of Services.
And, my next piece of advice is – please DO NOT only read instructions on your Smartphone or Tablet device. Ensure you always read the FULL instructions on a PC or Mac and, with much respect to our eco friendly chums, it is mostly preferable to print the instructions on to a paper copy.
During my +30 years experience in the oil inspection industry I have consistently seen inspectors working ‘blind’ because they have not fully read and understood the client instructions and that situation has become much worse with the introduction of Smartphones.
I’m sorry but you just cannot hope to fully understand the entire instruction on a Smartphone and, in fact, this mini technology problem goes way beyond reading instructions. I have also noticed that clients, in turn, do not fully read what we send to them, for exactly the same reason!
TOP RECOMMENDATION: Always read the client instructions on a full size screen and/or print them to paper. Read the instructions fully and ….. read them again.
Client instructions come in many different formats and are often just ‘cut and paste’ from a previous job with some details changed.
All will have the basic details. Ship name/Port/ETA/and cargo details and, so often surveyors just glance over the rest.
So often surveyors think the instructions are the same as last time – and they may well be – but that is no excuse for not reading every line, every detail.
Understandably, it is difficult to read long and technical documents written in a language that is not our natural tongue. There is no simple answer to this, a surveyor just must be able to read the language used by his client.
RECOMMENDATION: Make sure you read, AND UNDERSTAND, every line, every detail.
A common failure is not to advise the client when part of the instruction cannot be performed. Remember, you will have confirmed acceptance of the nomination and that means you will comply with the client instructions completely.
But, what if the test method to be used is a different method to that mentioned in the client instructions? When accepting the inspection appointment you must inform your client if any part of the inspection cannot be done or will be performed differently to that requested.
You will gain your client’s respect if you advise him correctly.
RECOMMENDATION: Do not be afraid to inform your client what cannot be performed or what will be performed differently.
A big danger area is the nomination that simply refers to a ‘previously issued standing instruction’, or refers to API Chapter 17, or to some other standard. Here the temptation is to think you know because you have done the same job 2, 3 or 10 times before. Be very careful. You may have previously missed something or misunderstood something. The next time your luck may just run out! My advice here is to make a check-list specifically for these ‘rather vague’ jobs and use the check-list as part of your inspection documents. That way, you should not miss anything.
RECOMMENDATION: Make check lists to ensure that you do not miss any part of the instruction.
• Always read Client Instructions/ Nominations on a PC and not on a mobile phone
• Always read Client Instructions at least twice even if you have seen similar instructions before
• Do not rely on your memory. Print the instruction/nomination and/or make check lists
• Remember, a client nomination (and their instruction) is a legal document and you agree to be contracted by those instructions as soon as you accept the nomination
• Always inform your client of any part of the instruction that may not be performed or may be performed differently
You can only achieve accuracy if you fully understand what you are doing.