OSHA Using Drones for Facility Inspections

A recently published internal OSHA memo outlines that agency’s use of “Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS),” more commonly known as drones.

The memo, issued in May 2018 but only recently made public, details various best practices that OSHA employees must follow when using drones.

Most importantly to business owners, the memo states that OSHA “will obtain express consent from the employer prior to using UAS on any inspection.” To ensure safety, personnel on site must also be notified before the drone takes off.

The drone pilot must follow a host of requirements, including:

  • keep a visual line of sight with the drone
  • operate the drone only between sunrise and sunset
  • do not exceed a flight speed of 100 mph

If an OSHA region chooses to utilize drones during inspections, the region must assign a Regional UAS Program Manager that will oversee all the elements of a drone program. This manager must ensure that the drone program is carried out safely and follows all applicable local, state and federal regulations.

According to EHS Today, in 2018 OSHA used camera drones to conduct nine facility inspections, most often after accidents at workplaces that were dangerous for inspectors to enter, including an oil rig, a collapsed building, a combustible dust blast, a TV tower, and a chemical plant explosion.

To make sure your workplace is ready for anything OSHA might throw your way, contact the Workplace Safety Experts at SCT.