As we navigate these unprecedented times, it can be difficult to consider, think about, and implement best practices – the safest practices – as you consider reopening your small business. Even knowing where to turn for reliable information can feel overwhelming. Some sources we think are useful and accurate, especially if you’re looking for general information or additional resources, include:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- National Institutes of Health
For those of us with small businesses in California, a good place to start, when looking for helpful information, include:
- California Department of Public Health
- California Labor & Workforce Development Agency
- California Department of Industrial Relations
COVID-19 knows no boundaries. So, when considering reopening your small business, it is important to think about the information from, and requirements imposed by, the federal government, as well as the governments of your state, county, and city. And since we learn more about the virus and how best to combat it with every passing day, it is important to refer to these resources often. What was needed yesterday may be unnecessary today. What is anticipated for next week might be unthinkable this week.
Yes, it’s challenging. It’s not easy to do everything you can to keep your employees, contractors, customers, and vendors as safe as possible, while you do the very same for your family, friends and yourself. Here, it’s important to remember you’re not alone! This “new normal” is unprecedented, and everyone is required to take steps now that they never even considered before.
But that’s not to say you can’t reopen your business when the conditions are right, and the appropriate government agency gives you the “green light.” As you begin thinking about reopening your small business, there are a number of things you should consider as soon as you can, and certainly before reopening:
- Will you require employees to wear personal protective equipment when they are within proximity of one another or are in shared spaces while in the office? Are you legally required to do so? Are there safe workarounds that are allowed?
- Is your floorspace such that you can ensure appropriate physical distancing measures (at least 6 feet)? If not, how can you reconfigure the space so that important safety measure is in place and effective. Easy, inexpensive measures will probably come to mind when you start to think about this.
- Regardless of whether safe physical distancing can be put in place, which of your employees can work effectively from home or another safe, remote location? Here, too, a little thought may lead you to manageable solutions.
- If employees can’t effectively telework, can workhours be staggered to reduce the number of folks in your workspace at any given time?
- What do you need to tell your employees, visitors, guests, customers, clients and vendors about how you plan to make them safe and help them feel safe? What do you need your employees, clients and customers to do to keep the workplace safe?
- Do you have someone at your workplace who is the “go to” person for questions and concerns about COVID-19 and workplace health and safety? This “go to” person should be someone who can take responsibility and is authorized to provide answers and solutions.
- What can you do to distribute disinfecting supplies throughout the workplace to ensure surfaces – especially shared ones – can be kept clean and safe? There are probably areas in your workspace where this will be very important.
This surely isn’t a complete list of the issues to be considered when reopening a small business in this “new normal” – especially where there are various requirements tailored to the particular type of business. What a restaurant must do to ensure employee and customer safety will be different from what is needed to do the same for a small trucking company. A hair salon will have needs that differ from those of a retail store. In thinking about reopening, and using the available resources, including those listed above, it’s important to consider the type of small business you’re operating.
If you have any specific needs or questions about your particular business, and how to get it up and running safely in these challenging times, please contact us.
To legally drive a car, you must be able to prove not only that you have a valid license but also that you possess adequate car insurance. Driving without insurance or with inadequate insurance leaves you open to all kinds of liability.
The same could be said for other motor vehicles. If you own a boat, motorcycle or ATV, for example, chances are you have insurance policies for them. They are expensive pieces of equipment, after all.
So where does that leave drones?
How episodic drone insurance works
You can buy insurance for virtually anything, and drones are no exception. Traditional policies, like homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, may cover drones as household items of value. However, most businesses and drone enthusiasts prefer “episodic” insurance policies.
Episodic insurance policies only apply when the drone is in flight. Using a smartphone app, consumers create a customized plan suited to their needs for a specific flight. Costs are calculated by assessing:
- The task to be completed
- The risks involved of completing it
- The specific area the drone will operate in
Many episodic policies are based on an hourly rate, with additional options added on depending on flight needs.
Once you finish your task, and the drone is safely back on the ground, insurance coverage ceases until the next time you fly. You don’t pay for coverage while the drone isn’t in use, and you can modify your coverage each time you fly your drone.
Why use episodic insurance vs. a traditional policy?
The main advantage of episodic insurance is that it’s designed specifically for flying drones. With a traditional policy, you could run into the following issues:
- Your policy limits don’t cover all of the damage done to or by the drone.
- Your policy won’t cover incidents related to “commercial use,” which could mean anything from taking landscape photos to sell on your website to creating a promotional video for your kid’s soccer league, even if you aren’t paid for it.
- Your insurance premiums may go up if you have to make an expensive claim (or claims) due to a drone accident.
Some flying clubs seek to mitigate the costs of drone insurance by purchasing a group plan for their members. This is fine, but the above issues may still apply, especially commercial use restrictions. Group plans are generally for hobby flyers, and may not cover anything related to your side hustle.
Most drone users understand the risks and rewards of flying drones. Episodic drone insurance can be just the solution to protect your investment (and your wallet) from potential liability.
It’s easy to think of drones in the sense of what they can add to modern life. For recreational purposes, they offer a unique aviation experience that just about anyone can enjoy. As a means of utility, drones can gather aerial imagery and data from hard-to-reach vantage points. Even for consumers, the prospect of drones delivering purchased goods is becoming an increasingly tangible reality. But what if drones could also remove the smog and pollution that looms over some of California’s larger cities?
Drones are an exciting technology and they’ve already proven useful on several different fronts. With a rise in these unmanned aerial vehicles being used for public good—e.g. tracking wildfires and other disasters—what are their prospects for helping to clean up California’s environmental ills? A look at what drones are doing here and abroad could offer a glimpse into the future.
Sniffing out the problem
In Katowice, Poland, drones are already being to put to use as a way to detect pollution. A city with a substantial mining industry, Katowice offers an airspace that’s uniquely fit to test and refine this technology. Polish authorities are using drones equipped with sensors that can evaluate the air’s chemical makeup onboard, and in turn fining the offenders who are releasing contaminates.
While Poland is in the midst of its own pollution problem, these “sniffing” drones could feasibly be just as useful in cities like Los Angeles where smog is an egregious issue. The development of this technology will be interesting to watch, as it could play a role in the evolution of both emissions and aviation regulations.
A decrease in greenhouse gas emissions
When companies like Amazon and UPS began exploring the use of drones as delivery systems, there was a feeling that commerce as we know it could change dramatically. While that may end up proving true, drone delivery could also offer environmental benefits, namely a reduction in greenhouse gasses.
A recent study by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory concluded that using drones to deliver packages could cut down on carbon emissions. While drones are not completely harmless in terms of energy use, they’re a far cry from diesel delivery trucks, and the study noted that California in particular could see some stark differences:
- On average, a truck delivery of a package leads to roughly 1 kg of greenhouse gas emissions.
- In California, a drone delivery of that same package would create about 0.42 kg of greenhouse gas emissions.
For the Golden State, that would mean a 54 percent reduction in emitted greenhouse gasses. The technology and infrastructure are a work in progress for drone delivery, but there are promising signs that it could be a more environmentally-friendly option.
As the proliferation of drones in the U.S. continues, it will be interesting to see how their range of uses expands. With issues of the environment increasingly at the forefront of public discourse, drones may end up being called upon more and more as a greener option.
Drone technology is advancing at such a rapid speed that existing laws can feel restrictive. However, understanding how current law works can protect users from legal issues.
In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration has a “line of sight rule,” which is important for anyone operating a drone to understand. This rule mandates that drone operators keep the unmanned aircraft within eye shot at all times.
Locally, California Civil Code Section 1708.8 forbids drone use to record another person via sound and/or video without their consent.
Recreational vs. commercial use
Recreational and commercial drones are both subject to the line of sight rule. However, the FAA regulations for recreational drones and commercial drones differ, and are typically more lax for recreational use.
For instance, there are no pilot requirements for operating a recreational drone, but commercial drone pilots must have a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate, be at least 16 years old and pass a Transportation Security Administration vetting process.
In both applications, drones must be registered if they weigh more than 0.55 lbs, but commercial drones are also subject to a pre-flight check for safe operating conditions.
Recreational drones must be five miles from airports if they aren’t providing advanced notification to airport and air traffic control. Commercial drones can only operate within Class G Airspace, which is all airspace below 14,500 feet and typically anything very near the ground (1,200 feet or less).
In regards to operating regulations, while all drones must yield right of way to manned aircraft, commercial drones are additionally not allowed to fly over humans or a moving vehicle, and must remain under 400 feet and fly at or below 100 mph.
Drone law is ever evolving, but following existing FAA rules and regulations can keep operators of any kind from facing unexpected legal issues.