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.
Remote/Wilderness Work - 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. Please send a copy of your plan to EH&S for record keeping.
Urban Work - Research Travel Plan
Depending on the research site a full Field Safety Plan may not be the most appropriate planning tool. Wildlife, access to shade and water, or identifying nearby services will be less of an issue for research in urban environments. Fieldwork conducted in the engineered environment will still benefit from a streamlined travel plan. The travel template helps researchers identify key considerations for their work including regional security, pre-travel considerations (e.g. immunizations), and check-in procedures. A travel plan will also be the best way for the campus to determine what UC resources will be most beneficial to the traveler.
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.
UC travel insurance provideds health coverage (serviced by UnitedHealthcare Global) as well as security and extraction services through iJET. The service agreement with iJET includes use of their travel mobile applications. Mobile app provides travelers with destination intelligence reports, quick connection to global hotline services, travel alerts directly on your device, immediate access to critical information, tools and assistance.
Preferred Practicies for Safe Teaching and Research in the Field
The Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History supports natural history educational and research opportunities for UCSC students, faculty, staff, and the greater Santa Cruz community. As part of their continuing efforts the Administrative Director, Chris Lay, has compiled an excellent guide on the Preferred Practices for Safe Teaching and Research in the Field. Areas covered include preparation, competency, risk assessments, communication and dealing with participant issues/concerns.
First Aid Preparedness
Any field activity should include first aid supplies. Packing, and being familiar with, your first aid kit is critical for field work. The contents of a good first aid kit will vary depending on activity; camping, hiking, altitude, unique environments (marine, desert, ...) will each have particular needs and challenges that may require specialization of your kit.
Buy a pre-built wilderness first aid kit -
Wilderness Medicine courses (wilderness first aid and wilderness first responder) are offered through the UCSC Office of Physical Education, Recreation, and Sports (OPERS). See the OPERS website for upcoming courses.
University of California
Health and Medical Considerations
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.