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Is it Time to Reassess Drone Use on the Project Site? Part 1

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It seems like drones were a distant dream only a few short years ago. At the time, the idea of remote-controlled flying machines equipped with high-definition cameras sounded like something out of a science fiction novel. Fast forward to the present, however, and drones are virtually everywhere — soaring through the sky to snap photographs of sweeping landscapes, providing aerial surveillance for commercial businesses, and, yes, surveying construction sites to monitor progress and safety compliance.

Now that drones have become deeply ingrained in the construction industry, it’s time to re-examine whether or not they are truly as useful as we have come to believe. In this two-part article, a West Palm construction lawyer will answer the titular question — is it time to reassess drone use on the project site? From Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections using drones to contractors utilizing drones to create high-resolution maps of project sites, there’s no denying the fact that drones are changing the way the industry operates. But are these changes for the best? Let’s find out.

Drones Show Promise for Industry Progress

When unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology was first introduced to construction industry leaders, they were instantly enamored with the possibilities it presented. Right off the bat, they recognized that drone technology could be used to increase the speed and efficiency of surveys, inspections, mapping, monitoring, and security. Most importantly of all, they recognized that it could become a crucial component in the ongoing fight against workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. For instance, falls are one of the leading causes of construction-related fatalities. Many of these deaths occurred when workers were tasked with performing inspections at great heights, which is one work-related duty that drones are exceptionally well-equipped to handle.

Small Accidents Reveal Significant Problems

While one of the primary goals of integrating drones into the construction industry is to improve project site safety, there are clear risks associated with them, too. At the right altitude, a drone can become a potentially hazardous projectile if it loses control or ceases to function. As drones become more widely adopted by construction professionals, it will increase the likelihood of drone-related accidents like one involving a 3D Robotics Solo drone crashing into a crane in 2018. With only a small volume of drone-related accident reports available to contractors, it can be difficult to anticipate when and where the next incident will occur. For example, a drone could accidentally strike a roofer and cause them to fall, or a drone operator could be electrocuted while attempting to remove a drone from a tree.

Accidents happen on the project site, it’s one of the inevitable truths of our industry. That said, determining which technologies and strategies are absolutely essential can help us develop an objective view of their worth. In part two, we’ll continue to detail the pros and cons of drones in the construction industry.

If you would like to speak with a West Palm construction attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.