The general duties outlined by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations still apply to off-site activities such as academic and research fieldwork. As such, the University and its constituent Colleges and Departments, have a specific obligation to ensure the health and safety of all person(s) participating in fieldwork. This includes implementing procedures to:
- Identify risks associated with the fieldwork.
- Establish suitable controls to manage risks.
- Assess and ensure competence of fieldwork leaders & participants.
- Plan for potential emergency situations.
The potential risks associated with fieldwork activities (overseas) have been recognized by the British Standards Institute (BSI) who produced British Standard (BS 8848) for Field Trips and Activities. This in turn is supported by the Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA): Higher Education Sector Guidance on Health and Safety in Fieldwork and Travel (2018).
Health and Safety Services has recently finalised the Fieldwork Policy Standard & Procedures which outlines the specific arrangements Colleges / Schools must put in place to either prevent or control the risks associated with fieldwork in accordance with legislative requirements and the BSI and UCEA documents. As part of this the following supporting Handbooks and template documents have also been produced to help those planning and undertaking fieldwork:
- Fieldwork Policy Standard & Procedures
- Handbook: General Day Trips & Visits / word version
- Handbook: Social & Community Based Field Research
- Handbook: Taught Fieldwork and Research Fieldwork Handbook
- Participant Form
- Trip Registration Form
- Case Study / Example RA Social Research (produced by IOSH)
NOTE: Although the Fieldwork Policy Standard etc will, generally relate to UK fieldwork as overseas travel is predominantly covered by the University’s Overseas Travel Policy and arrangements, some basic advice on planning for health and safety on overseas fieldwork will also be given.