Organizations are finding more practical ways to incorporate the use of drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into their operations.

Law enforcement agencies are using drones for aerial surveillance and to help locate criminals. Real estate agents increasingly are using drones to showcase properties they are trying to sell. Construction companies are taking a similar approach to highlight progress on building projects.

Others see opportunities to use drones to keep tabs on worksite safety.

Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration authorized its regional offices to use unmanned aircraft systems technology during workplace inspections.

While that might sound problematic for safety managers, OSHA’s drone use comes with a few key restrictions.

First, OSHA needs employer consent before flying a drone over a place of business. OSHA’s drone use best practices protocol includes stringent requirements for training, record keeping and accident reporting.

OSHA administrators also have to comply other conditions in accordance with the organization’s policies, such as being overseen by a regional UAS program manager and ensuring the program is in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.

Other requirements are:

  • Only allowing a certified Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC) to operate the drone
  • Ensuring all unmanned aircraft systems are registered
  • Applying for and obtaining FAA waivers for instances when operating drones under FAA regulations is not feasible
  • Creating and maintaining logbooks for certified remote pilots and all unmanned aircraft systems
  • Reporting any drone accidents to the FAA

OSHA inspection teams must consist of a RPIC, visual observer and a safety monitor. The visual observer must be an OSHA employee and could be the compliance safety and health officer overseeing the inspection. The drone pilot has final say about whether to conduct flight operations. That person also has the authority to terminate a UAS flight at any point. A pilot also must maintain a line of sight with the drone.

Post inspection, OSHA requires a drone’s memory to be copied to a form of electronic media for file storage. The drone’s memory then must be reformatted.

Again, none of this can happen without OSHA first obtaining employer approval prior to conduct an aerial inspection.

Syndeo provides assistance with OSHA compliance and record keeping.

About us: As the Heartland’s leading employer services company, Syndeo partners with local business owners to help them minimize risk, improve efficiency and maximize profitability allowing them the freedom to focus on growth and fulfilling their mission. Syndeo fulfills its mission by taking on all of the HR responsibilities for our clients’ workforce, including employee relations, benefits, risk management and payroll.


~Josh Heck, Marketing Manager, Syndeo