Occupational Safety

Using drones to improve workplace safety

Carry out necessary inspections without putting a team of human inspectors at risk

3 minutes09/20/2017

Written by Fredrik Löfberg

Most of us have heard of drones – aerial quadcopters that can be piloted remotely using smartphones, tablets, or even augmented reality glasses – but not many companies are fully aware of their workplace capabilities.

Increasingly, forward thinking organisations are using drones to improve their workplace safety in high-risk areas, and help them to enhance productivity. With GPS tracking, high res cameras and flight support features on-board most drones, they are become more and more accessible for business use.

Let’s take a closer look…

How can drones improve workplace inspection processes?

One major use case for drone safety technology is on work sites that cover a large geographical area. A study published by the Journal of Information Technology in Construction has already shown that using a combination of drone and an iPad 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 may deter some companies – a professional level drone and iPad package costs around €4,000 – the improvement in safety inspection capabilities ensures rapid return on investment.

It also creates opportunities to speed up the process, as images can be fed back to a television screen in the construction site office in real-time, so personnel can carry out inspections from their desk.

Can drones make work inspections safer?

In addition to carrying out more accurate inspections, which means more issues are likely to be spotted and rectified, using drones instead of people is fundamentally safer in many workplace situations. A drone can make light work of inspecting the conditions of transmission poles, windmills in the sea or high altitude, or outside inspections of a multi-storey construction site, for example.

There are many places that senior personnel would prefer not to send their employees, but at the same time regular checks must take place to ensure everything is in working order. Drones can solve this problem.

Company bosses should carefully consider how much they have spent on safety inspectors to make site visits over the last year or two, and how many near misses have been reported during those inspections. Compare this to the safety and speed of using a drone – where only one payment is needed to rent or purchase the equipment – and investment quickly begins to make sense from both a financial and security perspective.

Making drone data drive safety improvements

For any companies considering drone investment, it’s important to remember that technology alone will not make the workplace safer.

The most successful businesses take the data generated by drone technology and connect it with their Safety Management Solutions, to enable tangible improvements. It is important to combine and analyse information collected by drone inspections, in under to fully understand where improvements need to be made.