MICHAEL TAYLOR, MSPH, CIH, is chief safety, health, and environmental officer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a member of the Joint Industrial Hygiene Ethics Education Committee. He can be reached at
Perhaps surprisingly for some readers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are an emerging issue for some IH and EHS professionals. UAVs are aircraft that can be flown by a pilot at a ground control station; they can also fly autonomously based on preprogrammed flight plans or more complex dynamic automation systems. Commercial and hobby use of UAVs is exploding: some observers predicted that as many as one million UAVs would be sold during the 2015 holiday season. More advanced UAVs can be used for environmental and IH sampling in high-risk and inaccessible areas, disaster investigations, safety and workflow surveys, pre- and post-blasting surveys, demolition surveys and environmental sampling, quality control inspections of building exteriors, inspection of hard-to-reach places on structures, and aerial surveys and mapping. UAVs can significantly reduce costs compared to traditional aerial surveys. And because they can hover and go places that other aircraft cannot, they also reduce the risk to personnel who would have had to do the job before UAVs were available. However, there are several ethical issues related to UAV use for IHs to consider.
UAVs are an emerging issue for some IH and EHS professionals.
Flight Plan IH and Ethical Issues for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Ethics and Emerging Technologies The ABIH Code of Ethics offers guidance for industrial hygienists related to emerging technologies. The relevant sections of the code are: I.A.1: Comply with laws, regulations, policies and ethical standards governing professional practice of industrial hygiene and related activities. II.A.1: Deliver competent services with objective and independent professional judgment in decision-making. II.C.1: Follow appropriate health and safety procedures, in the course of performing professional duties, to protect clients, employers, employees and the public from conditions where injury and damage are reasonably foreseeable.
One of the great things about practicing industrial hygiene and EHS is the opportunity to help address emerging issues. Examples include engineered nanomaterials, electronic cigarettes in the indoor environment, corrosive drywall, asbestos from vermiculite, and so on. At times, working on emerging issues requires IHs to refer to our professional code of ethics for guidance. Relevant excerpts from the code appear below.