Fieldwork Safety

Heads of School/Directors of Institute/Heads of Service have overall responsibility for health and safety in their management units and must make sure that risk assessments are conducted for fieldwork carried out by staff and students under their supervision. The aim of this is to make sure that safe working arrangements are in place for all University-sanctioned staff and student activities conducted beyond the campus environment.

Fieldwork includes larger scale activities such as archaeological digs, student fieldtrips and research fieldtrips as well  as smaller scale work such as interviews, survey and sample collection activities carried out by staff and students in many disciplines. Generally fieldwork will involve some practical on-site activity in addition to the travel element.

Virtually all fieldwork will involve travel away from the University campus, either locally, or overseas and the University's Travel Policy and travel and insurance arrangements will also apply.

See the Travel, fieldwork and placement and Insurance and Risk webpages for further information.

Researchers must also consult the "Safeguarding in Research" webpage if the activities involve children, young people or vulnerable adults.

Typically attendance at conferences and meetings will require only that the University's travel procedures be followed and will not normally require a fieldwork risk assessment. However, where an initial appraisal suggests that there is likely to be significant on-site risk, perhaps due to travel in more hazardous parts of the world or where particular higher risk site activities are planned, fieldwork risk assessments may also be needed. It is for those arranging and managing such trips to ensure that the level of risk assessment undertaken is appropriate to the activity.

A single fieldwork assessment may cover a range of activities provided all relevant risks for each occurence are able to be fully addressed. Where that is not the case, separate assessments for individual activities may be more appropriate.

The forms below may be used to support management and assessment of fieldwork-related risks. The Fieldwork RA Template should provide a useful outline for many types of field activity and should be considered the normal starting point.  However, the range of off-campus activity across the University is very broad and it is recognised that this may not be appropriate for every activity. Where the Fieldwork RA Template is not a good fit, the General Risk Assessment provides a flexible alternative that can be tailored to the circumstances of any activity.

Fieldwork/Project Risk Assessment Template (v.2.2)

General Risk Assessment Template (1.1)

Sector Guidance

Sector specific guidance on the safe planning and management and risk assessment of fieldwork and travel is provided by the Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA).

This guidance, produced in partnership woth UCEA and others, provides a useful framework that may be followed to manage fieldwork safely. The advice within the document is supported by detailed practical guidance and checklists.