The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) is seriously considering using drones for building inspections. The department has released a report which states, “Our report is the product of intensive research by DOB experts and finds that when combined with traditional hands-on examinations, the effective use of drones could potentially result in more comprehensive building inspections, resulting in reduced inefficiencies and a safer New York City,” as reported by Engineering News-Record New York.

What Are the Barriers to Using Drones for Safety Inspections?

It is prohibited under current regulations to fly drones over the city. As it stands now, drones can only take off from or land in certain designated areas near airports, heliports, and particular public parks. To pilot a drone, operators need visual line of sight. However, Local Law 102 was passed in 2020, requiring DOB to study the use of drones to conduct inspections of building facades in conjunction with hands-on inspections. The resulting report released by DOB found barriers to adopting drones for façade inspections in the city, including the fact that technology does not yet meet all the requirements.

Are There Problems with the Way Safety Inspections on Worksites are Currently Done?

An audit found that the NYC DOB is not doing enough to improve construction site safety, as stated in an Office of the New York State Comptroller press release. It found that the agency needs to increase inspections and enforcement to protect workers and ensure that contractors and building owners follow the building code. The press release states that the DOB needs to do more to prioritize worker safety, and to ensure contractors and building owners address safety and building code issues in a timely manner. The audit found the following:

  • 26% of all worker deaths in New York City from 2018 through 2020 were related to construction.
  • 2,003 construction incidents reported to DOB between January 1, 2018, and May 5, 2021, resulted in 2,066 injuries and 36 deaths.
  • In 16 of the 18 construction sites with active work in progress visited by the auditors, they found 77 safety issues.

How Could Drones Help Improve Safety Inspections?

DOB’s report states that the use of drones is promising for building inspections in the future. Drones could potentially provide benefits that include:

  • Collecting photos, videos, thermal images, and visual data
  • Collecting important information to help pinpoint precise locations of defects
  • Accessing areas that are difficult or impossible to access through other inspections methods, particularly in large buildings
  • Improving the efficiency of the current safety and façade inspection process

Although drone technology has potential for use in the future, it cannot replace certain physical examinations necessary to identify defects. While drones can capture data efficiently, the data must still be reviewed and evaluated by a human being.

When Do You Need a Lawyer?

The use of drones could potentially improve construction site safety and building code compliance in New York City in the future. In the meantime, serious construction accidents are far too common. If you have been seriously injured on a construction site, your best chance of recovering the maximum compensation is to have experienced New York personal injury attorneys handling your claim.

At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, our team of seasoned trial lawyers has recovered more than $1 billion in compensation for our clients. We are a large firm and willing to invest in our clients. If your construction accident injuries were caused by negligence, we have the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively pursue the compensation you deserve.

Our firm has more than 50 years of experience. Call us at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation.

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