OSHA to Step Up Drone Inspections

Aug. 23, 2019

EHS Today reports that The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is stepping up the use of drones to inspect worksites. OSHA reportedly used drones with cameras to conduct nine inspections of employer facilities in 2018, along with an additional nine in 2019. 

The group has previously used drones only with employers’ permission, at worksites where an accident had occurred or the area was considered too dangerous for inspectors to enter. According to the report, any region wishing to do so must establish a regional drone compliance inspection program manager and organize a team with a remote pilot, visual observer, and safety monitor. 

Although OSHA currently needs an employer’s consent before conducting a drone inspection, the group is seeking a “blanket public certificate” of authorization from the FAA to use drones without consent,” according to EHS Today.

Consenting to a Drone Inspection

If you are approached by OSHA regarding a potential drone inspection, it is important to consider:

  • While denying a drone inspection request may create a perceived compliance issue, in the event of serious injury cases, denying the inspection until a safety officer can view the site may be in a company’s best interest. 

  • Drones may inadvertently capture trade secrets or EPA violations. 

  • Employers should consider if drone flight would damage equipment or work products.

Source: EHS Today