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 a monthly field safety newsletter to stay informed about seasonal and emerging hazards, best practices, and training opportunities by emailing fieldsafety@berkeley.edu. Past issues by topic are available on the UC Field Research Safety website.

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.

Create a Field Safety Plan?

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

Examples:

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. Discounted kits are available for purchase. See our First Aid Kits page for details.

Sign up for travel alerts?

If you are travelling more than 100 miles from campus, register your trip at UC Away for travel insurance documentation. Shortly after registration, you will receive an email from Worldcue that provides a direct link to a personalized “Trip Brief.”

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.).

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.

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.edu or call (510) 642-3073.

Prepare for my trip?

  1. Complete a field safety plan.
  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.


Resources

Ship my research (hazardous materials)?

Check out our Shipping Research page.

Wilderness First Aid Training

Wilderness First Aid training support available now for field researchers! 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. 

Spring 2021 Training Dates:

  • 8 Hour Wilderness First Aid with CPR/AED -  TBD

Space for these trainings is limited, so pre-registration is required. Please contact fieldsafety@berkeley.edu for more details.

Field Safety Manual

Field Operations Safety Manual

Field Safety Prevention guide

A Guide to Preventing Sexual Violence and Harassment in Field Placements