When your focus is on the job, it is easy to lose focus on the importance of keeping records. Records keeping isn't done for the pure pleasure of it. Well, alright, some people might find it enjoyable - but not too many! When you’re absorbed in repairing or inspecting a piece of machinery, property, or construction site; the thought of “hey, I really want to write all this down” is not usually at the top of your mind.
Not keeping records - or keeping incorrect records - can be a costly decision:
While very few people constantly strive to write down everything they do; some industries like fire safety and boiler maintenance require it by law. In other industries - like construction or property management - there is no specific legal code that is required by government authorities. However, if there is a dispute, never-mind that you probably won't remember the details, there won't be any way to prove it.
The proof is in the pudding...or, log book.
Log books are a tried and tested way of keeping your information organized and available anytime you need it. In case of a legal dispute a log book will always provide an accurate and reliable account of events - and their dates, measurements, or any other relevant details.
Not all log books are created equal - especially if we’re talking inspections or legal disputes:
If you've considered, or even used loose printed sheets in a binder, then hopefully you didn't have to find out the hard way just how much weight they hold in a legal case or inspection. If you've used binders in school you know that one of their important functions is taking sheets out and putting them back in - that’s not ideal for a log of crucial data on boiler performance. And if you’re a boiler engineer you know that you can’t do that in the first place - there are laws mandating hardcover books with numbered and dated pages.
If you’re going to spend the time and money on keeping a log book, might as well make it worth while:
The best way to stay safe is to conform to all the safety requirements in your field and write it all down; and if you’re going to spend the time on recording it properly and accurately, it only makes sense to use a medium that is accepted and respected by inspectors and legal authorities.
What’s the bottom line?
At this point in time the majority of industries still require paper logs and records. Even if there isn’t a specific log book regulation in place for your industry - ordering log books is relatively cheap and takes very little time when you compare it to the hassle of getting a 'non-compliance' notification or having questionable legal evidence in a tight spot.
Use this guide when choosing a log book:
1 - A Log Book should be bound in such a manner as to prevent removal or substitution of pages. Although not an official law in all regions and industries – it is a best practice. The two most reliable types of binding are Smyth sewn hardcover books or notch bound hardcover books. These methods of book making are the least likely to be tampered with, and therefore hold the highest degree of credibility in any dispute or litigation. Have you ever tried taking pages out of a hardcover book? It is as close to impossible as can reasonably be expected.
The pages of a Log Book should be numbered and/or dated to establish complete and continuous records. Another measure of reliability is a hardcover book containing pre-printed dates, or fields for manual date entry, and sequentially numbered pages. This virtually tamper-proof feature is crucial for internal or external auditing. Such a book makes for much stronger supporting evidence than a binder.
All entries should be in indelible ink and errors should not be erased, but crossed out, corrected, and initialled. Because some inks can show-through on lighter paper, it is recommended to print on heavy and opaque paper. This is particularly important when both sides of the sheet are to be used. Can you imagine an official document with the ink coming through on either side of the paper and confusing everything?
Most industries require that the Log Book be accessible for 3+ years. Consider consulting your local government regulations for accurate record keeping information on your particular industry. If an often used book needs to be kept in good shape for several years, then only a sturdy and high quality product will stand the test of time. A poorly made book, even if following all of the regulations, will definitely make the wrong impression. Remember your old school coursebooks; after years of use some of them had missing pages, illegible sections, or worse. If your official documentation is going to look that way it will set the tone for what to expect of your entire organisation. Peace of mind comes more readily with a high-quality, casebound book with archival quality paper.
Nothing Like a First Impression:
All things considered, a hardcover, Smyth sewn or notch bound book will have the biggest impact on the reliability of your records in case they are needed as proof or for an inspection. Beyond that, nothing looks quite as professional and impressive as a hardcover book with a foil stamped title. Such a book gives the impression that you are ready to take record keeping seriously, and that you make sure that the records are kept accurately.
Is There Anything Other Than a Hardcover Book?
When looking for legal assurance, a hardcover book is really the one and only choice. However, in some cases there are other requirements. If you don’t need to use your log book as legal proof; or if your industry inspectors are fine with wire-bound books - those can be a good choice as well.
A More Compact Option:
Wire-bound books with plastic covers, while lacking the legal assurance element, will still provide you with a high quality and durable product. Wire-bound books can be particularly convenient when looking for smaller books, as their cover can be fully folded back without an issue - making for easy writing at any size.
Once You've Judged The Book by It’s Cover,
Once the physical structure of the book is selected (hardcover vs. wire-bound) comes the time to create the layout for the book itself. Depending on the industry this could mean different things. Some industries have a series of very specific measurements and tests to be taken at predefined intervals. Not much is left to the imagination or preference, so just follow the regulations. There is likely a standard book such as the 298A Fire Protection Log Book, so look for that first. However, if there isn’t a standard book for your particular needs then it is time to create a customized log book.
Experience is The Key When It Comes To Laying Out Your Book:
Usually the layout of the book is included in the quoted prices when you order custom books. An experienced log books printing company will have printed thousands of orders from each industry and will often have plenty of advice on book layout.
The layout of your Book is very important - you can’t change it half-way through, so once chosen it has to be maintained until your next order. This is another reason to go with an experienced log book printer, their advice can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
In some cases the industry guidelines are not specific beyond the need for a log book. That’s when your personal preference and specific work process comes into play - the log book should work for you. Here, too, experienced advice is invaluable.
Overall, whatever you choose - keep accurate records and save yourself the headache of last minute dashes to meet all of the compliance specifications.