In seemingly no time at all, drones transformed from a hobbyist’s toy to an essential tool for construction professionals. On the project site, drones can be used to monitor workers, track progress, map landscapes, and more. New applications for drones are still being developed today, but are we diving head first into this technology without considering the potential consequences?
In part one of this two-part article, a Boca Raton construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law discussed the promising future of drones in the construction industry while documenting a few recent incidents that indicate the industry-wide worship of drones might be a cause for concern. Now, we will continue to explore the pros and cons of drones so that we can answer the titular question — is it time to reassess drone use on the project site?
Preventing the Types of Accidents That Have Already Happened
Arguably the most shocking instance of a drone-related accident didn’t occur on a project site. However, it provides a prime example of how someone could be injured by such a device. A photography drone was taking pictures at a wedding when it incidentally made contact with a bystander. The bystander was blinded by the drone. Despite holding a $1 million liability insurance policy, the insurance provider refuted the claim on the grounds that a drone was an aircraft and, therefore, exempt from coverage. The insurance provider came out victorious in court after a federal judge ruled in their favor. This proves that drone-related accidents are a grim reality, but it doesn’t mean we should forego the use of drones altogether. Rather, we need to implement controls to prevent these types of accidents from happening again.
Mitigate Risk, Establish Protocols
Preventing any future accidents is imperative if drones are going to remain an effective tool for the construction industry. Taking a “safety-first” approach to drone usage can help contractors mitigate risks while slowly easing them into daily operations. Establishing safety protocols that account for the majority of drone-related risks can help prevent injuries. Similarly, limiting the amount of time drones spend in the air can reduce the chance of an accident occurring. Additionally, whenever you choose to deploy drones, ensure that your workforce is aware of their presence.
Employ Qualified Operators
Like any other machine on the project site that requires a specialized certification to operate, drone pilots should possess qualifications to verify that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to avoid drone-related accidents. Comprehensive knowledge of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations ensure that these operators don’t make foolish and costly mistakes. Since drones are a relatively new innovation on the project site, there’s never been a better time for contractors to seek out highly qualified, professional drone pilots to add to their workforce. You wouldn’t hire an unqualified crane operator, would you? The same principle applies to drone pilots.
So, is it time to reassess drone use on the project site? That answer is ultimately up to you after assessing the needs of your firm. Drones are helping contractors cut costs and increase safety, and although they introduce a new potential for injury, these incidents have been few and far between. Nonetheless, contractors should proceed with caution to mitigate the risks associated with drones on the project site.
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.