Health and Safety - Fieldwork
Fieldwork refers to any activity conducted for the purpose of research or teaching authorized by the University which is conducted by faculty, staff, graduate or undergraduate students or authorized volunteers at any off-campus location.
The Department of Geography recognizes that the research and scholarly activities of its faculty, staff and students may involve fieldwork, which may introduce inherent special risks and hazards. The Department of Geography has a Fieldwork Safety Policy which applies to all members of the department engaged in fieldwork and is designed to assist in the prevention of work-related injuries and ensure that emergency plans are both coordinated and communicated.
Fieldwork Safety Policy
The Fieldwork Safety Policy requires all participants of fieldwork to adhere to the following:
- Individuals participating in fieldwork must sign an Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risk Form (see Section 1).
- Individuals participating in fieldwork must be familiar with a Safety Plan in case an accident and/or injury occurs (see Section 2).
- All fieldwork must be conducted in such a way that potential risks are minimized.
- It is not advisable for any person to compete fieldwork alone. Where it is appropriate for an individual to work alone, that individual must let someone know their location.
- Any participant conducting fieldwork has the right to refuse what they consider unsafe work.
- In remote fieldwork locations (any location where it would be difficult to summon help and/or where emergency assistance would be an hour or more away without a vehicle) at least one supervisor must have up-to-date first aid training and must ensure there are sufficient first aid supplies. First aid kits are available from the Laboratory Technician.
Section 1: Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risk Form
The Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risk Form must be completed by all individuals participating in fieldwork. This includes class field trips, field camps (343Y), undergraduate and graduate fieldwork, and/or work study fieldwork. Completed forms are to be given to Angelica Lucaci, the Undergraduate Assistant and Program Advisor, prior to departure.
Section 2: Safety Plan
A Safety Plan must be completed by the fieldwork supervisor and discussed with fieldwork participants prior to departure. More complicated and potentially hazardous fieldwork will require more extensive safety plans. Completed forms are to be given to Erika Hill, the Laboratory Technician and Coordinator, prior to departure.
Class field trips are an exception and do not require a Safety Plan, however, emergency plans should be coordinated and communicated to fieldwork participants.
The Safety Plan must include:
- Fieldwork supervisor's name, contact information and known medical conditions
- Location of fieldwork, nearest community and emergency services
- Date of departure and date of return
- Nature of fieldwork to be undertaken and possible hazards
- Chain of leadership (i.e. team leader(s) and trained first aider names)
- Ensuring that all participants are aware of a plan of action that is to be followed in the event of an accident (includes contacts and evacuation procedures)
- Travel insurance requirements
- Immunization requirements
- Inspection of equipment to be used
- Confirming that all necessary person protective equipment is readily available (e.g. safety glasses, hard hats)
- Verifying that all participants have adequate training (e.g. navigation and map reading; what to do in case of confrontation with bears, dangerous snakes, etc.; the procedure to follow if a student is injured or lost)
Other relevant information supervisors may wish to provide participants may include:
- Transport arrangements
- Catering arrangements
- Clothing requirements
- Terrain topography
- Expected weather conditions
- Ensure that all participants have signed an Acknowledgment and Assumption of Risk Form prior to departure
- Formulate a Safety Plan and discuss it with fieldwork participants (not required for class field trips)
- Provide adequate training to fieldwork participants
- In remote fieldwork locations at least one supervisor must have up-to-date first aid training and must ensure there are sufficient first aid supplies.
- In the unfortunate case that an accident does occur, the supervisor must complete an Accident Incident Report Form in accordance with the Accident Incident Reporting Procedure
- Complete an Acknowledgement and Assumption of Risk Form prior to departure
- Provide emergency contact information and relevant medical information
- Students conducting fieldwork must formulate a Safety Plan and submit it to their supervisor
- Follow all applicable safety rules and directions as outlined by the supervisor
- Report any accident, injury, illness or near miss event associated with fieldwork to the supervisor
Personal safety must be a personal responsibility. Complacency, inattention, lack of preparation and/or training will all increase risks to health and safety. Although supervisors will take every reasonable precaution concerning the safety of participants, the potential hazards make it imperative that everyone behaves responsibly in order to reduce the risk of accidents. Ultimately each individual must act in a reasonable manner in order to ensure their safety and the safety of others.