Field Trip Safety
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.
Field trip policy documents and forms
- Richard Laton (California State University, Fullerton) has developed a health and safety plan that he uses for his hydrogeology field trips and that is in the format of a standard OSHA-required health and safety plan. This is a useful form for students to see what is required in the working world. The plan is comprehensive and includes what could be encountered in terms of health and safety on site in settings where drilling, water sampling, geophysics, and confined space entry will be done. Richard's form is easily modifiable for your own course.
- Download the form (Microsoft Word 103kB Jul27 05)
- The Department of Geosciences at Hamilton College uses a number of forms for field trips. These forms can easily be modified for your own institution. If you have questions, please send an e-mail to Barbara Tewksbury at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Departmental standard operating procedure for field trips (Microsoft Word 25kB Jun10 04)
- Field trip policy form for students to sign (Microsoft Word 26kB Jun10 04)
- Field trip itinerary and emergency contact form (Microsoft Word 20kB Jun10 04)
- Field trip health form (Acrobat (PDF) 5kB Jun10 04)
- Field trip report form for injury, accident, or illness (Microsoft Word 21kB Jun10 04)
- Field trip liability form (Microsoft Word 27kB Jun10 04)