Drone (UAV) Use on Construction Sites

Drone and insurance claims

Their benefits in risk management and marketing

It didn’t take long for the construction industry to figure out just how helpful drones can be. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) offer financial and safety benefits to both the builder and the client. First we’ll look at the value they bring to the work site and then discuss the legal requirements of their use.

How a UAV can help manage your construction site

  1. Land surveying used to involve contractors lugging expensive equipment into sometimes unmapped remote areas. While this method can’t always be avoided, surveying using drone technology is much more efficient and cost-effective.
  2. Monitoring for safety violations is one way to lower insurance costs and prevent accidents and even deaths. UAVs offer the ability to check if employees or subcontractors are wearing safety equipment, if scaffolding is stabilized correctly, or excavations are shored up properly.  You may be eligible for a discount on your insurance if employing a UAV for this purpose.
  3. Drones can monitor who might not be following protocol or not be working at all. This can lower safety violations, help track missing equipment, and weed out unproductive or dishonest workers.
  4. Clients want to see the headway being made, but visitors to construction sites can actually delay progress. Or maybe the client can’t make a visit to the site. Drones Drone over Construction Sitecan be used to photograph or film the site at regular intervals so the client can see images or videos of the work being done.
  5. Drones can be used to gather aerial shots of areas to be developed for marketing purposes. When paired with scale models or sketches of the finished product, they offer potential clients the ability to see how the land will be transformed.


Are you flying by the rules?

UAV federal regulations for went into effect on December 21, 2015. All drones purchased after that date must be registered with the FAA prior to use and comply with state laws that address the operation of drones.

A UAV, just like all aircraft, must comply with FAA regulations. However, individuals or entities intending to use drones for commercial purposes may obtain authorization under Section 333. To do so, you’ll have to file an exemption petition from certain requirements of current regulation.

As of this writing, 26 states have enacted laws specifically related to UAVs. For example, Arizona law prohibits the intentional photographing or loitering by drones over certain facilities, such as military installations, first responder operations, courthouses, refineries, water and wastewater facilities, communication stations/towers, and other critical facilities.

If you currently operate of a drone and haven’t complied with the FAA and state requirements, it’s imperative that you take the appropriate steps toward compliance.  Noncompliance could result in criminal charges and/or hefty fines.


Regular commercial insurance policies such as General Liability don’t cover liability arising out of the use of UAVs. In addition, special coverage should be purchased for damage to the drone itself. Drone insurance is a quickly evolving area as the insurance industry grapples with how to quantify the risk. Check out this excellent resource on drone insurance.

Jason Ebe, “Are You Legally Operating That Drone on Your Construction Site?www.jdsupra.com. June, 2016.
Stewart Lawson, “7 Ways Drones are Improving the Construction Industry.” www.droneguru.net. 12 July 2016.
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