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The International Labour Organization estimates that 2.3 million people worldwide die due to work-related reasons each year. It’s a figure that comprises both job-site accidents and deaths due to illness or exposure to hazardous materials.
Drones are part of the process of treating some of those problems. Whether at an oil refinery or a power plant, here are some of the ways drones are improving working conditions:
Inspection and collection: When it comes to inspecting hard-to-reach places, such as industrial chimneys, rooftops, fluid barrels, or even just a high scaffolding, often times it’s the inspection itself that causes injury.
Some startups are aimed towards improving inspections, such as the Sparrow drone by Percepto. It’s an autonomous drone with day and night (thermal) vision capabilities, which treats safety at site inspections with its ability to access areas that would pose a danger to human inspectors. Without the risk to human life, the pre-programmed drone inspections can be performed more frequently, according to entrepreneur.com.
Drones are also able to collect, transmit and analyze site data more efficiently than humans can, giving employers a more accurate picture of what’s happening on their site.
Emergency situations: From fires to gas leaks to hazardous waste spills, disasters strike, even at the most diligently inspected work sites. Drones are minimizing the odds of a chemical disaster occurring, and they’re also acting as first-responders when the unimaginable happens.
Drone company PrecisionHawk teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014 to map out an industrial landfill in South Carolina that was releasing toxic particles into the air. The result was a full assessment of the area in under an hour, a job that would take human surveyors days or even weeks to complete, exposing them to unnecessary hazards.
Security: A drone can cover more ground in less time than the combination of humans and stationary cameras. Aptonomy is a drone company which equips its UAVs with a night-vision camera. The low-flying drones can hone in on an intruder and capture a mugshot — something a stationary camera can do with less accuracy. Because drones provide such an accurate picture in real time, they significantly reduce the risk posed to security guards and emergency responders.