28th Oct, 2019 Read time 2 minutes

OSHA is stepping up the use of drones for inspections

Currently, it’s up to OSHA regional administrators to determine whether their region will act to enforce a drone compliance inspection program. Any region wishing to do so must establish a regional drone program manager and organise a full drone inspection team which must consist of a remote pilot in command, visual observer, and a safety monitor. The program must also comply with all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, anyone on-site must be notified before a flight, and the pilot must always maintain line-of-sight with the drone.

Although OSHA currently needs an employer’s consent before conducting a drone inspection, the group is seeking a “blanket public certificate” of authorization from the FAA to use drones without consent,” according to EHS Today.

Points to consider when approached for a drone inspection

Drone inspections are difficult, and many employees will find this quite invasive, but they can be vital for uncovering necessary information or evidence of the premises.  While denying a request for drone inspection may create the perception of a compliance issue, in serious injury cases it is worth considering denying the request until a safety officer, legal representative, and senior management member can be on site.

Before consenting it is worth noting:

● An employer should consider the site itself an whether a drone flight would be safe or risk causing damage to equipment or work products

● An employer can work with OSHA on developing a specific flight plan and get copies of the data collected.

● During a typical OSHA inspection, an agent of the employer usually accompanies the inspector, which is not possible during a drone flight.


It remains to be seen what the future of drone inspections will be, but it is an exciting development in HSE despite initial concerns over security, privacy, and compliance.


HSE Network
Article by: HSE Network

Become a HSE Network Member

Join and be part of a growing network of more than 3,000 HSE Professionals and experts in the field of Health and Safety who are helping to improve best practise and knowledge around the world.

For unlimited access

icon Unlimited access to all HSE videos, insights and articles
icon Your questions answered - By the HSE experts
icon Access to the latest HSE job vacancies around the world (coming soon)
icon Exclusive access to downloadable HSE resources in just one click (coming soon)
icon Exclusive access to over 20+ HSE training courses (coming soon)
icon Invitation to HSE events and networking groups
icon Access our recommended HSE service providers

Brands who we work with