Field Research

Field work can create unique hazards, even for activities that may be routine in a laboratory setting. This page includes information that will help you conduct your field work safely, whether you are a few miles from your office or on other side of the globe.

In general, outdoor activities in remote or uncontrolled environments, conducted primarily for research purposes, constitute field research. Field operations are performed by employees or students of UCSC beyond the geographic boundaries of UC Santa Cruz property (main campus and Younger Lagoon Reserve) and the engineered (urban) environment or outside of the United States. Field research also includes service and research activities performed on behalf of other agencies including government and private organizations. Research in the wild can pose levels of risk to research team members which may range from minimal to potentially lethal.

Field Safety Plan

The Field Safety Tool is a fillable and modifiable document designed to help research groups generate a practical Field Safety Plan. Not all researcher members will be familiar with the potential hazards of an area or the preparations required. A Field Safety Plan covers critical details that all participants should be familiar with before conducting field work.

Sections that all Plans should include:

  • Research location and description
  • Participants and contact information
  • Emergency services at research site
  • Site travel and access
  • First aid considerations
  • Travel preparations

The Field Safety Plan should be completed as soon as possible so all participants can review the document and adequately prepare. A physical copy of the Field Plan should be on hand while in the field. Plans can be sent to EH&S for review and comment.


Travel to and from the research site is often one of the most dangerous activities involved in field research. The UC has several online tools designed to assist safe travel. UC Away enables researchers to register work-based travel for insurance coverage and to print travel insurance ID cards.

Trip registration also includes access to Worldcue Traveler, a website that provides a customized Trip Brief for travelers that includes the following travel information:

  • Entry/Exit information
  • Immunization recommendations
  • Communication options
  • Transportation guidance
  • Cultural background
  • Environment details
  • Security concerns
  • Legal considerations

Travelers receive an email from Worldcue shortly after registering their trip in UC Away that provides a direct link to their personalized trip brief.


Additional Resources

University of California

UCSC Scientific Diving & Boating Safety Program

Safety Guidelines for Field Research - UC Berkeley

Travel Assistance (Insurance and Health Information) - UCOP

International Travel

Travel Guide - US State Department

Country Profile World Factbook - CIA

Health and Medical Considerations

Traveler Health Guide - CDC

Healthy Drinking Water - CDC

Food Safety Guide - WHO

International Travel and Health - WHO

World Hospital Directory

International Hospital Guide


Library of Congress Country Studies


Field Safety Plan Assistance/Questions

If you need assistance using the Field Safety Tool or have questions about Field Safety contact EH&S at (831) 459-2553 or