Field Research

Safely working and conducting research outdoors, off-campus, and abroad.

The UC Field Operations Safety Manual serves as a reference document and teaching tool to promote safe, successful field courses and research trips. It includes guidance on planning, training, incident response, risk assessment, effective communication, campus resources, and common field hazards.

Sign-up for seasonal field safety newsletter to stay informed about emerging hazards, best practices, and training opportunities by emailing Past issues by topic are available on the UC Field Research Safety website.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) requires plans for safe & inclusive off-campus and off-site research, effective January 30, 2023. Learn more.

How Do I:

Know if I need a field safety plan?

A field safety plan serves as a tool to document your hazard assessment, communication plan, emergency procedures, and required training. Developing and using a field safety plan is part of the Cal/OSHA requirement of an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) for the following activities:

  • Doing field research or teaching field courses off campus,
  • Work or courses involving wildlife (UC Berkeley’s Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) will also verify that you have a Field Safety Plan), and
  • Work performed at field stations or nature reserves. Established site procedures may by available, but should be supplemented with a safety plan for potential risks specific to your research or tasks.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) requires plans for safe & inclusive off-campus and off-site research, effective January 30, 2023. Learn more.

Create a Field Safety Plan?

Fill out the EH&S Field Safety Plan Template. You should attach related documents as appropriate.


Note: It is recommended that you start this process early in the planning stages of your field work to allow time to gather information, identify controls needed, and document training. Sections include:

  • Site location and description
  • Emergency services at the site
  • Modes of travel and site access
  • First aid considerations
  • Travel preparations
  • Participants and contact information

The Worldcue Trip Planner can help provide many location-specific details, e.g. endemic disease risks, local hospitals, and security alerts. When trips are registered at UC Away, travelers receive an email from Worldcue that provides a direct link to a personalized trip brief. Alternatively, you may access the Worldcue Trip Planner directly and use the ‘Location Intel’ tab to create a ‘Trip Brief’ or a ‘Security Brief.’

Free first aid kits are available to field research groups that complete a Field Safety Plan, while supplies last. See our First Aid Kits page for details.

Does my international travel need additional campus approval?

  • Pre-approval is required for certain types of university-related international travel, including travel to Department of State (DOS) Level 4 / 'Do Not Travel' destinations. Field researchers should review the US Department of State Travel Advisories for their destinations to determine if their plans require prior authorization beyond their home department. DOS Level 4 is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance to travelers. Review campus travel guidance, protocols and approval processes before making fieldwork plans.

  • University employees are required to comply with United States export and sanctions regulations when traveling abroad with commodities, software, and technology. University employees should not engage in international travel, research, or collaborations until a determination of whether the activities are exempt from export control licensing or a license is obtained. Travel to sanctioned destinations for university research may be prohibited. Refer to Export Control: International Travel for guidelines, UCOP International Collaborations and Economic and Trade Sanctions (OFAC) for a list of sanctioned destinations, or contact the Export Control Office for more information.

  • It is the responsibility of the traveler and approving department to ensure the financial and health/safety risks associated with international travel are assessed before authorizing travel. Travelers should exercise particular caution about traveling to destinations that are restricted to US Government personnel in the DOS Travel Advisory, which may include some Level 3 destinations. Contact with questions about specific destinations.

Know what training I need to take?

Please take the following trainings:

  • Heat Illness Prevention Training
  • First Aid Training
  • Wildfire Smoke Training
    • This training applies to employees who work outside or in non-filtered buildings and/or vehicles for more than one hour per shift when the Air Quality Index for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is 151 or greater. 
    • Complete the Wildfire Smoke Protection and N-95 Respirator training.
  • UC Field Safety Leadership Training Series Library

Upon request, EH&S can provide in-person Heat Illness Prevention training and assist with development of your Field Safety Plan. Other training may also be required depending on your planned activities, e.g. fall protection, ATVs, hazardous materials shipping, etc. Please email ehs@berkeley.eduor call (510) 642-3073.

Prepare for my trip?

  1. Complete a field safety plan; consider environmental hazards and security risks prior to choosing your fieldsite.
  2. Complete Heat Illness, First Aid, or other training as appropriate for your location or tasks.
  3. Obtain immunizations if recommended for your destination (the Travel Clinic at the Tang Center requests you make your appointment 4-6 weeks in advance of your trip).
  4. Hold a pre-trip meeting to review your field safety plan, travel logistics, pack list (including first aid kit), etc. and cover any remaining training needs.
  5. Register trips via UC Away for travel alerts, travel insurance documentation, and evacuation services. Shortly after registration, you will receive an email from Worldcue that provides a direct link to a personalized “Trip Brief” and an insurance card with contact numbers for 24/7 travel assistance. If conditions change, or security alerts are issued while you are traveling, you will receive location-specific alerts via email from Worldcue (storm warnings, civil unrest, disease outbreak alert, etc.)  Trip registration is required for university-related international travel, including field research. Trips booked via Conexxus are automatically registered.
  6. For international travel: 


Ship my research (hazardous materials)?

Check out our Shipping Research page.

Wilderness First Aid Training

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) training is sponsored by EH&S for field researchers and field course instructors. This hands-on first aid training is appropriate for researchers or trip leaders that work in remote areas, at least 30 minutes from emergency medical services or with limited communications.

The intensive 8 hour class should be taken as initial training, or as a refresher to practice skills and renew your certification.

2023/4 Training Dates: 

Six training classes completed this academic year; 122 researchers and students trained!

Future WFA dates for 24/25 to be announced. Minimum class size is 12. Please contact regarding scheduling for your department or group.

EH&S hosts this 8-hour course taught by Sierra Rescue for UC field researchers and field course instructors. Dress warmly and bring water, snacks, and a lunch. Space for these trainings is limited, so pre-registration is required. Please contact for more details or to register.

The training is taught by Sierra Rescue and includes CPR/AED certification. See the Course Outline (PDF).