Here’s How Drones Improve Workplace Safety

There is often an understandable hesitation in moving from established methods towards adopting new technologies.

A Pew Research Center study found that only 28% of Americans liked to be early adopters of new innovations. Many organizations tend to wait for technology to prove itself before moving away from their current methods of addressing a problem or need.

One of the more recent technological advancements some people are hesitant to adopt are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. Common reasons for the hesitation are privacy concerns, a lack of confidence in the technology, and perceived costs.

Additionally, there are concerns over regulatory conditions and legal variations from country to country.

Unlike other newer technologies, drones have already proven themselves. The list of successful use cases across many industries continues to grow every day. It is a fact that drones are a sustainable and economical solution for many applications.

For those looking for an additional reason to consider implementing drones into their operations, one of the most convincing arguments is related to safety.

Dangerous Conditions

Collectively, mankind has made incredible advancements.

From landing on the moon to harnessing the atom’s power, humans have accomplished much in the last 100 years alone. And yet, although we continue to discover and innovate, some of the most well-developed nations in the world still suffer from workplace fatalities.

Between 2018 and 2019, the United Kingdom reported workplace 147 fatalities. The number one cause of death in these cases was listed as falls from a height.

During the same period in the United States, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration reported a staggering 5,250 fatalities occurring in the workplace. Falls were again the largest cause of death (highway collisions were excluded from this count).

Many of these fatalities involved dangerous work tasks, such as utility inspections, that could have been accomplished by drones.

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Improving Safety with Drones - Man flying a drone over a job site.

Drones, A Safer Solution

With so many fatalities, leaders and decision-makers must do everything they can to keep their employees out of harm’s way.

Safety discussions and personal protective equipment help mitigate situations like falls from a height. However, they cannot prevent them.

The only way to ensure some of these fatalities will not occur is to completely remove people from dangerous environments.

Drones are ideally suited to complete many of the tasks that place humans at dangerous heights.

Visual inspections of wind turbines, for example, put people hundreds of feet in the air. Inspection personnel are suspended with ropes as they methodically search for defects in the rotor, nacelle, tower, foundation, and electrical system of each wind turbine.

During the entire process, people are in danger of falling. Drones, on the other hand, can complete much of the inspection process without ever placing people in danger. Additionally, the versatility of payload options can allow for much more detailed data collection during the process.

Heights are not the only situations where drones can keep people out of harm’s way. UAVs can operate in smoke, high temperatures, toxic gas, confined spaces, dust, and radiation.

Another example of drones keeping people safe can be found in how we combat fires. Firefighters are often placed in burning buildings where flames, toxic smoke, and falling debris can quickly cause injury or death. Fire departments around the world are finding UAVs as a solution to keeping their teams safe.

Drones can assess the hot spots of a building and provide firefighters with situational awareness before they even approach a burning structure. They can then monitor the situation and keep track of individual firefighter locations, avoiding potential disaster if a team member is in danger. Drones provide an extra layer of safety between firefighters and flames.

Drones, A Safer Solution

With the ability to operate in the austere conditions, drones can easily help to lower workplace injuries and fatalities. In many cases, the technology eliminates the need to place people in dangerous environments all together.

Any loss of life or injury to people in the workplace is a tragedy. It is especially challenging to understand and process the loss when other options could have prevented the fatality. 

If your organization has yet to investigate how drones can improve your operations, ask if they can make your operation safer. You may find the return on invest in UAV technology is in keeping your people safe.

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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3 Reasons Drones Improve Infrastructure Inspections

The global economy depends on the vast network of infrastructure which connects goods and services in the marketplace to customers.

Roads, railways, bridges, power plants, wind turbines, solar farms, and more are vital to meeting our energy needs and fueling commerce.

The cost to maintain these critical structures can be staggering. For example, in the United States, the government spends well over $400 billion annually on infrastructure alone. A significant portion of that spend goes toward inspection, maintenance, and repairing existing structures.

Even more alarming than the cost is the age and health of these structures.

Like many countries, the United States is facing a crisis concerning rapidly degrading infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the U.S. will need to spend $4.5 trillion by 2025 to fix it.

Traditional methods of infrastructure inspection rely heavily on placing people in harm’s way to complete the task.

Structures such as wind turbines and bridges place people at dangerous heights and around moving parts that can cause injury or death. Personnel exposed to working at heights often have some of the highest fatality rates for work-related deaths.

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology has advanced far enough to replace human involvement in many of these precarious situations, while often producing better results. Here’s how.

The Benefits of Drone Inspections

Safety

 

Improved safety is perhaps the most significant benefit of using drones for inspections.

When conducting an assessment, inspectors use various tools to detect stresses in materials, surface temperatures, and other factors to determine the physical and functional condition of a given structure.

Recent: Should You Use Drone as a Service or Start an In-House UAV Program?

Before industries began using drones, most inspection methods put people in harm’s way. In some cases, such as the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, areas that required thorough, periodic examinations were far too dangerous for workers.

Drones ably move into dangerous areas, including radioactive environments, and collect the information needed without ever posing a risk to humans

 

Speed

 

Typical infrastructure inspections may take weeks or even months to plan and schedule, and they may require shutdowns and delays.

For example, if a bridge requires an inspection for evidence of cracks in concrete supports, you’ll need additional equipment, such as hydraulic lifts, to complete the task. And, you’ll likely need to close off that bridge for the inspection team’s safety, thus causing traffic delays.

Once you schedule an inspection team, rent heavy equipment, and work with government officials to get clearances, you’re already be behind schedule and over budget. Of course, that’s all in addition to the aforementioned safety concerns.

The use of drones eliminates all of those issues. With a certified remote pilot and the right UAS technology, you’ll mitigate those risks and quickly get the job done on your terms.

Advanced Technology and Data Collection

 

Inspections at most facilities, such as solar farms, require more than just visual observation.

Photographs in the visible spectrum might identify some issues, but completely miss others. Technologies, such as Thermal imaging, LiDAR, and sometimes multispectral imaging, provide powerful information. For example, you’ll immediately know when a solar cell is no longer functioning properly.

Many drones swap out payloads or have built-in dual-camera systems (i.e. Parrot Anafi Thermal). These features allow inspectors to collect numerous data points for further analysis in just a single drone flight.

There’s also the quality of UAV optics and other hardware, which allows for more precise inspection of hard to reach locations.

Optics have grown from small cameras producing grainy images to dynamic image-collecting devices with extensive zoom capabilities. Standard UAV cameras capture images 20MP or larger, and can take video in 4K or better.

Hardware improvements on GPS receivers, visual sensors, and infrared sensors have made obstacle-avoidance systems extraordinarily reliable, even indoors. Battery improvements are also advancing, as some drones are capable of hour-plus flight durations on a single charge.

Combined, the precision optics and reliable hardware provide inspectors with more precise, detailed data.

Drone inspection thermal imaging

Bringing It All Together

When it comes to infrastructure inspections, UAV technology has provided innovation across numerous industries.

With increased safety, enhanced data collection, higher quality data, and greater versatility, you’ll get more done safely, and with less disruption.

Of course, drone inspections require more than just buying the equipment and taking to the skies. You’ll need certified remote pilots and industry-specific training, plus operation and safety guidelines.

With Consortiq, we take care of the hard work for you. We’ll help you create a course of action based on your needs, from operational support and use cases, to ongoing training programs. If you’re not interested in starting your own drone program, we’ll conduct the inspections for you, when you need them.

Save time, limit risk, and get the information you need with Consortiq!

For a risk-free quote, or to schedule a consultation with a team member, just complete the form below, or call us at 1-855-203-8825 (U.S. office) | +44 (0)208 0450 322 (UK office).

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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