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Newly Published Documents Reveal OSHA Use of Drones for Work Site Inspections

A recent FOIA document request has revealed that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has approved a new method for OSHA inspections. A previously unpublished internal OSHA memo, dated May 2018, authorized the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to “collect evidence during inspection in certain, workplace settings, including areas that are inaccessible or pose a safety risk to inspection personnel.”  To date, OSHA has used drones in at least nine separate instances.

OSHA inspectors using UAS at worksites are subject to stringent rules set forth in the May 2018 internal memorandum and must abide by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS standards.  OSHA is requiring the use of three-person crews for all UAS missions.  UAS inspections may not be conducted over worksites while workers are present outdoors, nor can they be flown at night. All UAS inspections will be subject to consent of employers.

(Read the complete OSHA memo here.)