How Drone Services keep workers safe across different industries
According to OSHA, falls from height are the second most common cause of workplace injuries and fatalities, after automobile accidents. Over 300 people die each year from falls in the US alone, and falls cost industries a collective $5.9 billion per year in compensation costs.
Introducing flying robots to an industry lets workers remain safe on the ground, reducing costs and saving lives. This article outlines the impact of drones on various industries and shows how industries that don't currently use drones can benefit from adopting drone technology.
Visual Inspection is a broad industry encompassing everything from inspecting pipelines for leaks to inspecting the roofs of buildings for damage. Historically, this type of work was slow and expensive. A worker, usually in a man lift truck or on scaffolding, would ascend to height and review the target site.
Aerial Work Platforms (AWP) like man lifts are expensive - renting a man lift for a week can cost $45,000 or more, and the risks are high. On average, manlifts account for 2-3% of deaths in the construction industry each year. The main causes of death are collapse of the crane, falls, or electrocution.
Visual inspection is conducted by a drone when possible. Drones are small and nimble - they can easily ascend to height and approach various parts of the asset for a detailed close visual inspection.
This means that inspection quality has improved, inspection times have reduced, and inspections have become safer as a result of drone technology.
Ultrasonic inspection is a regulatory requirement for many tall assets, including cranes, tanks, and industrial chimneys. Large storage tanks around the world require inspection approximately once every 5 years.
The traditional method for inspecting storage tanks is rope access. Workers climb the tanks on ropes to complete an inspection, physically contacting 40-60 points on every tank.
According to international data on rope access work, there are 0.08 fatalities per 1000 jobs, and 0.64 injuries per 1000 jobs. Based on our estimates, there are over 3 million storage tanks worldwide, which totals 600,000 inspection jobs per year.
That means by implementing drones instead of human climbers for storage tanks alone, we can prevent 384 severe injuries and 48 deaths per year.
This is not even considering the number of UT inspections required on cranes, chimney stacks, ships, and other assets around the world. Implementing drones for UT worldwide can easily prevent hundreds of deaths every year.
Corrosion Touch-ups (Painting and Cleaning)
Patching corrosion before it becomes a problem is a major expense for industrial asset owners. For example, it is estimated that the shipping industry spends $80bn per year on corrosion management. Corrosion management on ships requires hauling the vessel into dry dock, where specialized rope teams and cranes can repaint and touch up different sections of the ship.
Dry dock work is inherently dangerous, with numerous risks including falling, injury due to falling loads, and confined space injuries. While drones will never replace dry dock workers, they will serve to make existing dry dock work safer by reducing or eliminating the need for work at height.
Drones can make existing work at height safer, completing jobs faster and cheaper while workers remain safe on the ground. This has already been demonstrated in the aerial photography and visual inspection industries. We can expect similar results as drones branch out into other physical jobs, like corrosion cleanup and ultrasonic testing.
Contact us to learn more about how Skygauge, one of the first drones capable of ultrasonic, visual, and corrosion work can improve safety and efficiency at your jobsite.