The goal of any inspection should be for the improvement of the safety and operations carried out on the asset. Professional and honest inspections will add value to the marine assurance process, allowing clients to make informed decisions as to the suitability of the asset, the risk profile the asset brings to the operation, and the overall safety culture implemented onboard.
As an inspector, as the years go by and you improve your inspection style, you will find tweaks and tricks to make the process easier for yourself, you should share these. You must remember though that you are only as good as your last inspection. It is very easy to be remembered for the bad things and if you get some negative feedback follow up on it. Do not be so arrogant that you think you’re perfect.
Do not be afraid of changing up a question set if you can. Various surveys have been tweaked over the years in every company, (see a future post on templates/report forms etc.) adding and removing details based on the facts at hand gives the end-user better information to base their decision on. Of course, this does not work for those industry-standard audits that cannot be edited, but there are ways to include information in the answers to questions.
Be involved in the industry where you can. Attend conferences and meetings. Check on the websites for the town-hall meetings for the industry-standard inspections. Talk to, and share experiences, with colleagues and others in the industry. Reach out to people on LinkedIn. Generally, marine consultants, inspectors, and surveyors are approachable and willing to share information; within the confines of confidentiality, intellectual property, and common sense of course.
If you are a member of the crew of the asset being inspected try to understand that the inspector is generally not there to find fault or cause pain and heartache for you. They are likely there to complete a truthful vetting of the asset against their template. Ask questions and be involved in the process so you can understand where the inspector is coming from and what they are expecting, your next inspection will go so much better if you do.
To the managers of the assets; read up on the inspection that’s being conducted. Yes, you are super busy and have many irons in the fires, but even just a basic understanding of the process helps both you, the asset, and the inspector greatly. You can advise the crew on what to expect and prepare them for the issues they may face, you can inform the inspector of potential issues (we are specifically referencing certain questions in the OCIMF and IMCA industry-standard inspection systems).
Those requesting the inspections should have a clear idea of what the deliverable should be. Do you really need a full suitability survey, OVIQ, and on-hire for a tug boat that may be used for 30 minutes? Is a quick on-hire inspection for a vessel carrying multiple loads of cargo to various ports sufficient? Identifying and paying for the correct inspection you need will save time and money.