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Can Drones Improve Workplace Safety?

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

In industries such as construction, inspection and mining, it is not uncommon for workers to face serious injury, or even death. Compensation cost of workplace injuries and illnesses can be significant. Employers would also lose productivity, incur extra expenses on staffing replacements and repairs to damaged equipment.


Increasingly, forward thinking organizations are using better ways to inspect job sites and identify potential hazards before they become dangerous, many companies are increasingly turning to drones to improve overall workplace safety in high-risk areas as well as help workers enhance productivity.

One major use case for drone technology is on work sites that cover a large geographical area. Using a drone to observe safety hazards is more accurate, and can make up to 100 times more observations, than a safety manager walking around the site. While the cost of acquiring and setting up a drone program may deter some companies, a professional level drone system cost only around RM 20,000 and the improvement in safety inspection capabilities ensures rapid return on investment.


Here are some examples on how drones are improving workplace safety:




Replacing Manual inspections

In highly hazardous workflows that require constant manual inspections, drones prove to be safer and more effective at carrying out tasks that put workers at risk. In construction, for example, drones offer the ability to fast-track and automate core tasks (e.g. site surveys, scaffolding inspections, asset management, project management) that are usually risky and time-consuming.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Construction’s “Fatal Four”, detailing the four events leading to the highest number of worker deaths in the industry — these include: falls, struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between. Drones can eliminate the risk of the “Fatal Four” especially in helping to prevent falls at construction sites, falls from heights, from cellphone towers, while doing scaffolding inspections, falls from ladders, roofs and open sided edges.


Reducing Exposure to Toxic Substances

There is a wide range of situations where workers may need to expose themselves to various toxins or radiation. Such environments are harmful to a worker’s health and limiting exposure is critical. For example, after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, drones collected information that was vital to managing the disaster. With high radiation levels, this task would have been too dangerous for humans, but the drones made it possible for people to observe from a safe distance as the necessary information was collected.


Disaster Response and Inspection

The focus of disaster management is survivor safety, but this puts the first human respondents in great risk. While professionals have to be deployed quickly, they often have to operate in unsafe and unknown conditions. In the case of earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes and wildfires, first respondents are deployed immediately in rough and dangerous terrains. With drones, much of this risk can be reduced. The machines can survey the damage from a disaster to create maps for the first respondents. Not only that, but they can also be used to do things like locate survivors and deliver supplies to people in need of assistance.


Surveying Power Lines

Linemen or Power workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. The lines that transmit electricity to homes and businesses need regular maintenance. Part of this maintenance includes having a crew survey the lines for damage and inspect for branches and vegetation that could knock the lines down.


Without drone technology, workers would have had to foot patrol hundreds of kilometers of high-voltage power lines, a task that would have taken them weeks to accomplish and expose them to more occupational risks. By using drones equipped with multi spectral and high definition visual cameras, the team was able to safely gather actionable insights in a matter of hours.


Risk reduction is critical for organizations that have employees working in high-risk situations. It’s not only good for the workers, but it is also good for the company. When you find ways to reduce the risk of death and injury, you can effectively reduce the number of expensive workers’ compensation. Furthermore, workplace safety can also have an impact on job satisfaction. By doing what you can to provide safe working conditions, you can maintain a company culture that is more positive and more productive.


Getting started with Drone Academy Asia

To put safety first, maximize efficiency and cut costs, start deploying drone solutions with training and educating your workforce. We provide a range of training courses to help you integrate a drone program in your business. Contact us today !


Photo Credit : Sykstance

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