When an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector arrives at your project site, you want to be certain that your project and all of your workers are in compliance with all of the necessary OSHA rules and regulations governing workplace safety. Dealing with an inspector can be stressful for contractors, and receiving a citation is even more burdensome. Fortunately, if you have been charged with an OSHA violation, an OSHA defense lawyer can help you by responding to citations and providing you with aggressive representation for serious, repeat, and willful violations including citations related to workplace fatalities.
As OSHA continues to grow and evolve, adopting new practices and technology to improve workplace safety, contractors will be forced to adapt to new inspection methods such as those involving the use of drones. In this article, an OSHA defense attorney will discuss OSHA’s use of drones to perform safety inspections.
OSHA Takes to the Skies to Improve Safety
OSHA is an organization dedicated to assuring “safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”
In 2018, OSHA published a memorandum discussing the use of camera-equipped drones to assist inspectors with evidence collection during inspections. In short, this memorandum allows OSHA inspectors to develop a more comprehensive report on the safety and health conditions of project sites. As an OSHA inspector conducts an in-person inspection, they may also pilot a drone to reveal safety violations from a much higher vantage point. For contractors, this new process naturally raises some red flags.
Should Contractors be Concerned?
There are many reasons why contractors should be wary of allowing OSHA inspectors to perform drone inspections. For example, these inspections could potentially violate an employee’s Fourth Amendment right to “object to the expansion of an overbroad inspection” according to an article published by the National Law Review. If an employee refuses to submit to such an inspection under their Fourth Amendment right, it’s unclear whether or not the OSHA inspection will be ended, or if OSHA will simply seek additional legal backing, such as a search warrant, to proceed with the inspection. While this situation can likely be avoided since the OSHA memorandum notes that inspectors are required to “obtain express consent from the employer” before utilizing a drone to perform inspections, it’s currently unclear how refusal of drone inspections will affect contractors moving forward.
OSHA is still in the process of establishing drone inspections as the norm, but contractors should prepare themselves for investigations utilizing drones equipped with cameras to collect evidence. If you want to limit your chances of receiving an OSHA citation, consult an OSHA defense lawyer.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.