FIELDWORK SAFETY GUIDELINES
Equipment and Communications
- Special Safety Equipment
- Communications Equipment
- Contacts and Continuity of Contact
- Personnel and Contacts
Safety equipment used in fieldwork must be inspected and/or tested prior to the trip to ensure that it is in good working order, with fully charged batteries, sufficient fuel and that all appropriate parts, tools and manuals are available.
Depending on the type of work, the area to be visited and the likely weather conditions, special safety equipment may be required. This will include personal protective clothing such as coveralls, proper footwear or boots, sunglasses, insect repellent, sunscreen, sunhats, wetsuits, gloves, respirators or personal flotation equipment. Appropriate clothing and other precautions can help prevent snake and spider bites. Conditions for appropriate storage, transport and administration of anti-venom may not always be met on fieldwork trips.
Ensure that the equipment and material you need has been carefully thought about, made available and that everyone involved knows how to use it. If anyone in the group has specific medical conditions requiring medication, or has allergies to anything that may occur during the work, make sure that someone else knows. The first aid officer should be made familiar with relevant treatment for the condition.
Training and licensing are required for use of certain types of radios. Where these are the main form of communication, all members of a fieldwork group must be trained and licensed in their use. The fieldwork leader must be familiar with the license requirements. Information about the requirements should be kept in the School or Department concerned.
If mobile 'phones are to be used, everyone must know how to use them properly and must have access to the relevant contact numbers. Battery power for communication equipment should be sufficient to last beyond the expected duration of the field trip.
No trip may take place without there being properly informed and competent designated contacts both within the field trip party and at the University base.
Before setting out on field trips, the schedules and methods for maintaining contact with the University and/or other contacts must be arranged and understood by everyone involved. Contacts at the University and elsewhere must be informed about the location of the trip, the expected duration of work, how to contact those on the field trip, the planned time of return and at what time subsequent to this an alarm will be raised.
For long trips, arrangements must be made to make contact on a regular basis, such as daily, or at some other regular interval if daily contact is impractical. The frequency of the regular contacts will depend on the length of the trip and where it is, how many people are involved and what sort of communication is actually available.
If a scheduled contact is not made, the contact at the University or home must be able to raise the alarm. If plans change, members of the fieldwork party should alert their designated contacts to prevent false alarms and waste of time.
Before any trip, contacts and members of the fieldwork group must have agreed how an alarm would be given under any worst case scenario (e.g. the boat sinks, a vehicle catches fire) when the planned means of communication is no longer available. If it is appropriate to organize alternative means of communication this should then be done.
The University Security Service telephone number, which is monitored 24 hours a day, should be displayed in all vehicles. It can be used if other University-based contacts fail.
Contacts at the University, at home and/or at locations near to the fieldwork must be notified of the intended route(s), timing and number of people involved in the work, etc., so that they can provide the information and help to direct search and rescue attempts. Maps and plans showing the locations of work should be lodged with appropriate members of staff and the contact person for each trip.
Anyone designated as the contact person for a particular fieldwork trip must be organized and know exactly what is required. Schedules for contact, the timing and method of raising alarms if contact is not made, the circumstances of the work (e.g. the registration numbers of vehicles, or boats, the place where boats are to be launched) should be documented for each trip so that the contact can find them quickly if required.
If mobile 'phones or radios are used, the details (numbers, call-signs) should be notified to the designated contact before the trip.
No designated contact may pass on the responsibility simply by leaving a message for someone else to take over - if something changes, the new contact must be told personally and all the relevant information provided so that there is no break in the continuity of contact. The fieldwork party must also be informed of the change of contact person.