Evaluating the Risks That Drones Present To Georgia Workers

February 14, 2018

Atlanta Workers Compensation Attorneys Evaluate the Risks Drones Present To Workers

The use of drones in the workplace has dramatically increased in recent years. Originally developed by the military to fire missiles at the enemy without endangering people, drones have found their way into the workforce. The technology offers tremendous advantages, especially when equipped with video cameras. Drones, whose scientific name is "unmanned aircraft system (UAS)," outfitted with video cameras can fly into spaces in which people cannot go or would be exceedingly dangerous to enter. Drone technology is also relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the potential human cost associated with the task to which the drone may be applied.

According to the National Safety Council, employers in all 50 states now use drones in some capacity. Overall, drones are used in more than 40 different ways. Aerial photography is one of the most common methods of drone usage. Additionally, employers use drones in construction projects, infrastructure projects, emergency management, oil and gas pipelines, and other applications. Increasing the use of drone means that employers must also increase safety awareness among their employees who use or work near drone technology.

A professor from Georgia Tech is an expert on the use of drones in private business affairs. The professor opines that employees must be coached to use drones where sending a person would be too dangerous. The employee might initially decline to use a drone because it is another instance of advancing technologies replacing the work of a human being according to the expert. However, attitudes seem to change when the employees understand that the use of drones is for their safety.

The use of drones in the workplace is not without inherent dangers. The professor claims that improper usage and insufficient training with drones can lead to accidents that drones are designed to avoid. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not implemented any regulations at this time relating to the use of drones. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enacted regulations governing the use of drones commercially.

At the outset, the FAA requires companies using UAS commercially register the vehicle with the FAA. Additionally, drone operators must pass FAA certified testing before deploying a drone for commercial use. UAS must weigh less than 55 pounds and be in sight of the operator or at spotter at all times. The FAA established a 400-foot ceiling for drone flight unless the UAS is within 400 feet of a structure. Operators cannot fly the drone faster than 100 miles per hour. Critically, UAS cannot fly over any person who is unprotected on the ground. Ground personnel may be related to the drone's flight. If not, then anyone on the ground when a commercial drone is in use must be inside a structure or a "covered stationary vehicle."

While FAA regulations endeavor to protect people on the ground and manned aircraft flying near the airspace occupied by the UAS, safety remains an issue. The Georgia Tech professor argues that drones are relatively easy to operate, however, an employee can only fly a drone safely on the job site with practical experience off the job site. Safety with drones must be a priority and make it a priority is something that should be an integral part of the company's culture. As part of that culture, companies should adopt written guidelines and safety protocols protect workers from injury whiles drones are in use.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 33 Years of Workers Compensation Experience to Work For You

If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of work-related accident, contact Montlick & Associates today for your free consultation with our experienced workers' compensation attorneys in Georgia. Montlick & Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty-three years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.