UAVs help construction pros increase safety and keep workers out of harm’s way
Earlier this year, a drone image of a great white shark swimming alongside an unsuspecting paddle-boarder went viral online. The powerful picture underscores what every construction project manager already knows: some of the most dangerous potential problems may be lurking just out of sight.
While sharks usually aren’t a problem on construction sites, there are plenty of other life-threatening hazards you do have to worry about, from scaling rooftops to climbing ladders. In fact, one government study found that 21% of the 991 workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2016 were in the construction industry. What’s more, workers’ comp claims cost American companies and taxpayers billions of dollars a year.
We work with construction companies around the world, and the the majority of them agree: drones improve safety on their job sites. So how can you benefit from their experience? Read on for five tips from construction pros on boosting site safety with the help of flying robots.
Steer Clear of Dangerous Situations
Although some situations require human inspection, many workplace injuries can be eliminated by simply keeping people out of harm’s way. Because let’s face it, there is nothing safe about scaling a roof to check for damage or climbing up scaffolding to complete vertical inspections on the face of a newly built project.
The solution for many potentially dangerous situations is to use the same technology that spotted that great white shark: drones. Drones now give project and site managers a way to access hard-to-reach or accessible-but-dangerous locations. These flying robots are ideal for assessing building envelopes or investigating a roof for damage — eliminating the need for someone to scale up scaffolding or climb across a rooftop.
Harness the Power of Drone Data
Why climb a ladder or walk across a rooftop if you don’t have to? Many inspections come back without actionable findings. Which means that someone put their life on the line for nothing. Workers shouldn’t have to expose themselves to danger unless it’s necessary — to make repairs or installations for example.
Drone data can help you reduce or even eliminate time spent in dangerous areas. Just ask Grant Hagen, a VDC manager with the Beck Group. He recently used drones to inspect a roof at the University of Texas — Dallas at night, when the chances of accidents are even greater. How’d he do this? He performed a series of thermal inspections using DroneDeploy’s aerial mapping capabilities for analysis.
Thermal data captured from the drone provided a much more detailed and accurate picture of the site than other methods — such as helicopters — could deliver. And, as you can imagine, it was much less expensive. Better yet, the thermal imagery pinpointed the problem areas on the roof so that inspectors knew precisely where to look. “Rather than searching for a needle in a haystack, you have a map to tell you right where to look,” said Grant. This reduced the time spent on the roof and helped keep workers out of harm’s way.
Embrace the Latest Technology
Virtual reality is the next big thing on the horizon for managing job site safety, so get your VR safety goggles ready to go. Detailed data from drones are already used to facilitate virtual walk-throughs of job sites.
Now, inspectors can do 360-degree inspections from virtually anywhere. VR provides a detailed review of potentially dangerous site conditions and makes it easy to focus on areas of concern. But VR isn’t just an inspection tool. You’ll be able to use this technology to conduct safety training for workers or to walk clients through construction work in progress.
Just ask Russel Byrd, a VDC coordinator at Brasfield & Gorrie, an Alabama-based General Contractor. “Virtual reality provides us with the ability to seamlessly integrate new technologies with various construction operations, improve job site safety, and increase the information available to key stakeholders,” says Russell Byrd.
Recently, their virtual design and construction team gave hospital staff a virtual tour of a facility only weeks after construction started. This allowed staff to fully experience the space to a high degree of detail, ultimately resulting in greater feedback on issues such as location of medical gas outlets and equipment placement. Early input allowed Brasfield & Gorrie to make necessary changes that will ultimately create a better, and also safer, workplace.
The Bottom Line
If you’re serious about reducing worksite hazards you should actively be considering the drones and aerial imagery. We think these flying robots should be on every contractors technology roadmap. Because as Grant Hagen from the Beck Group says, “It’s unlike anything else in construction technology right now.”
Where to Learn More
Interested in learning more about how drones can improve safety and efficiency on construction sites? Tune into our ongoing construction webinar series:
- Improving Commercial Inspections and Job Site Safety with Drones
- Getting the Green Light for Your In-House Drone Program
- Managing Construction Projects with Drone Data
- Tracking and Communicating Site Progress with Drones
Ready to bring drones to your job site? Read our guide to starting a drone program.
Get Started with DroneDeploy
Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.