Teach the Earth > Geoscience in the Field > Designing Field Experiences > Field Trip Safety

Field Trip Safety

Developed by Barbara Tewksbury and David Tewksbury at Hamilton College.

Here is a crucial litmus test that you can perform the next time you head out into the field with the sons and daughters of many families. Ask yourself, "Would I want my son/daughter on a field trip that is run the way I run my trips??" If yes, great! If not, hmmmm...you have some changes to make!

In hindsight, most incidents that happen in the field could have been prevented or mitigated with proper forethought. Yet, many field trip leaders exercise surprisingly little systematic effort to reduce risk in the field and to be prepared for emergencies. In discussions on field practice and safety at On the Cutting Edge workshops over the last several years, we have come to realize that it is common practice for faculty to jump into the vans without leaving itinerary or contact information behind, to travel without emergency medical information on students and leaders, and to have no policies in place to limit risky behavior on the part of students. Faculty whom we have encountered are also largely unaware of personal liability issues.

Development of department policies and procedures for field safety can have two consequences. By discussing the various aspects of risk, faculty become more aware of where the risks lie and how to cope with them. By establishing policies, departments can insure that both students and faculty follow through on intentions to manage risk in the field.

In order to help departments develop their own policies and procedures, we provide below examples of the kinds of field trip policy documents and forms that departments can develop and use to address the risk inherent in taking students into the field.

A more comprehensive look at various issues related to field safety based on this same work is available on the the NAGT website - Safety in the Field.

Field trip policy documents and forms

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