The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) drone initiative has taken off. What does that mean for your company? Currently, OSHA can only use drones for inspection activities with permission from employers. However, that could leave you in an uncomfortable position if you deny OSHA’s request to use a drone for its inspection. How should you then handle it? If an employer allows OSHA to use drones for its inspection, the employer should be involved from the very beginning –the employer should assist with the development of the flight plan, designate the visual observer, and get a written agreement from OSHA that all data and photographs collected by the drone will be shared with the company.
In 2018, OSHA used drones with cameras to conduct at least nine inspections of employer facilities, mainly in conditions that were otherwise dangerous for the inspector. The use of drones for this purpose has continued this year, and the use of drones for these OSHA inspections will likely continue to increase, which will raise some novel issues for employers.