The Diary - An Inspector's Tool
The Importance of Keeping a Bound Diary

The National Board Rules for Commissioned Inspectors, section 7.0, requires an Authorized Inspector to maintain a bound diary of activities. This applies to new construction of boilers, pressure vessels, and other pressure-retaining items. In addition, each National Board Commissioned Inspector is required to maintain a bound diary for repairs and alterations involving the National Board "R" Certificate of Authorization.

Inspectors may often wonder what kind of information to include in bound diaries. Two points in section 7.0 of Rules for Commissioned Inspectors help define parameters for such entries. In part, they state the diary must contain details of each inspection performed, and provide for continuity at each site. The last point, dealing with continuity, may be the easiest to understand. Rarely would a manufacturer or repair organization work with only one inspector. Almost always, a relief inspector is on hand to cover vacation time, sick leave, scheduling problems, etc. When two or more inspectors who represent the same Authorized Inspection Agency are involved in a single job, continuity becomes extremely important. Circumstances may arise that require each inspector to maintain a separate diary for the same job. In these instances, a system of communication has to be established that will ensure continuity of effort. This can be done by keeping a written record of email, memo, and verbal communication in each diary.

Not only do inspectors want to avoid duplication of effort, they must not overlook any inspection points presuming another inspector had covered them. Clear and detailed diary entries will help prevent this problem from occurring.

As to the question of how much detail to include, it is best answered by asking the inspector, "How good is your memory?" Everyone's memory fades with time. The diary is a tool to "freeze" a particular moment in time. Inspectors are urged to review diary entries made one or two years prior. If past entries are vague enough that inspectors cannot clearly explain their activities, they should consider making more detailed entries in the future.

While it may take time for inspectors to develop the habit of keeping a diary, the benefits reaped are considerable. A diary not only enhances job performance, it protects the inspector by serving as a detailed record of job duties performed over time. Like any good tool, the inspector's diary must be used properly in order to maximize its benefits.