OSHA Now Using Drones to Conduct Safety Inspections

The use of drones for OSHA safety inspections is raising some concerns for construction contractors


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now authorized to use camera-carrying drones to collect evidence during inspections of certain workplace settings. What does this mean for construction contractors? It means that OSHA can now inspect your site both in person on the ground and from above. But that's not necessarily bad news.

Drones provide OSHA with another way to help keep jobsites and employees safe. But that doesn't mean that employers have no control over drone inspections. First, OSHA must obtain "express consent" from the employer prior to a drone search. If the employer objects, OSHA is not supposed to conduct the drone search , unless it obtains a search warrant. Additionally, employers do have a right to limit the inspection to the area of the complaint or to object to photos and video being taken of areas that could reveal trade secrets.

One area of particular concern for the construction industry is who is considered "in charge" and able to give express consent at a multiple-employer worksite. Does the general contractor have authority to give or refuse consent of a jobsite multiple subcontractors are working at?

(more on OSHA's new use of drones for safety inspections...)