How to Use Drones to Improve Workplace Safety
Drones can improve jobsite management and take over tasks that would normally put employees at risk.
A life lost or people injured at the workplace is a tragedy that is challenging to process, especially when there are options that could have prevented the fatality.
In many cases, the available technology offers various options to eliminate exposure to dangerous environments, thus eliminating the risk involved. Employers, especially those in high hazard industries, are increasingly using drones to inspect, survey, and report various conditions that would be hazardous to their employees.
With the ability to operate in austere conditions, drones have made their way into countless occupational markets to help lower workplace injuries and fatalities. This influx of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has demonstrated how useful drones are for ensuring high safety standards within various applications.
In this article, we'll lay out different ways UAV technology can improve the safety of an operation. So, let's begin!
Why Drones Can Enhance Your Safety Program
Drones can help make an organization's operations safer in multiple ways.
Drones are used in construction to improve worksite safety. Aerial drones survey the potential site for safety hazards before the work begins. This helps construction companies be fully prepared for any challenges, ensuring the protection of their workers.
If your worksite has a lot of equipment and other assets, drones can be used to keep an eye on them. Drone inspection enables companies to get a clear idea of how their projects are progressing and enable them to make data-driven decisions that meet all of the safety requirements.
Inspections and Maintenance
Maintenance inspections are usually costly and a safety concern for workers as they have to manually inspect dangerous and complex structures like skyscrapers, towers, and bridges. UAV aerial inspections can get a view of the worksite from an elevated vantage point and conduct inspections in unsafe, difficult to reach areas while keeping the costs low and the workers safe.
Drones can also help with the transportation of material. They can be used as material handling devices, taking tools and equipment from one place to another around construction sites and areas that are difficult to access and potentially dangerous for workers.
(Learn more in 6 Ways Aerial Drone Data Can Improve Mining Safety)
How Can Drones Improve Workplace Safety?
Below are the different ways drone technology can help improve health and safety.
1. Reduce Human Exposure to Hazardous Conditions
Because of the nature of their work, many businesses expose their workers to hazardous conditions. If not handled carefully, this can lead to injury or loss of life. Drones are a real game-changer here. They help maintain workplace efficiency while reducing occupational-related diseases and chances of injuries.
2. Reach Dangerous and Hard-to-Reach Places
These unmanned vehicles don't just go high - they also go far. Moreover, they can reach remote areas that are almost impossible for humans to get to.
For example, in wildfires, firefighters are exposed to a serious risk of injury or death from wild animals and the fire itself. In such situations, drones can assess the area and map the least dangerous route for firefighters to take control of the situation. Additionally, drones can be loaded with fire retardants to help extinguish the fire safely.
3. Disaster Response
Disaster response is aimed at saving as many lives as possible with minimal risk to the responders themselves. Drones can get a birds-eye view of disaster-struck terrain, from a vantage that would pose a significant risk to humans. Advanced drones equipped with imaging technology can find trapped or floating people that are beyond first responders' view. Drones can also map out the safest routes for reaching people to provide humanitarian aid, reduce casualties, and locate as many survivors as possible.
(Learn more about Disaster Preparedness in Construction)
4. Monitor Construction Progress
People in the construction industry are limited in their ability to gather comprehensive information about their entire jobsite. Monitoring the project is not only a lot of work, but also involves worksite risks. Construction drones can simplify the process and offer a safe and faster way of monitoring and reporting. These UAVs can access dangerous and complex areas and reduce the risk of doing so to zero.
5. Survey Power Lines
Inspecting and maintenaning power lines carries a great deal of risk. Drones can be used for the inspection portion of these procedures, thus saving lives and avoiding unnecessary expenses.
6. Provide Instant Feedback
Drones are loaded with laser sensing devices and ultrasonic radars to detect abnormalities and render three-dimensional representations. By applying UAV technology, engineers and contractors get real-time information within minutes without risking any workers' safety.
7. Observe Traffic Patterns
Drones can observe traffic patterns, vehicle interactions, and human behaviors. Traffic drones can also quickly locate ideal routes for emergency vehicles and monitor accident situations until the first responder arrives.
8. Manage Large-Structure Maintenance
The towering cityscapes are colossal structures presenting new and persistent challenges that need to be addressed through constant maintenance and observation. Sending someone to scale the face of a skyscraper or take the cable bridge to perform an inspection places them at a huge risk. Drones are the perfect tools to regularly inspect and identify unplanned emergencies in such a situation.
By employing drone technology, businesses can improve their safety score, cut costs, and improve efficiency. The cost of investing in drone technology is much lower when compared to the value it creates in safety and efficiency.
Written by James Rennie
James Rennie had a long career in natural resource management that led to him establish one of the first drone companies in Australia, Australian UAV (AUAV), in 2013. With thousands of commercial flights completed, including in Antarctica, Armenia, and throughout Australia, he manages the strategy and growth of the company.