Field Safety (Click here for PDF of entire field safety guide)
Preferred Practices for Safe Teaching and Research in the Field
Included in this manual are guidelines and resources to build your skills to teach and lead safe successful field classes and research trips. All of the content here focuses on risk management issues that are relevant in a field setting. This resource is most relevant for California-based UCSC field courses, but it also contains many resources for other UC field excursions, including international courses and research expeditions. This manual is not a comprehensive reference for how to lead great research expeditions or field classes. It is also a “best practices” document and is meant mainly as a reference. However, in many places, this manual does refer to actual UC policies and state/federal laws. The amount of resources you use in this manual will depend on the scope of your trip and your past experience leading field groups. It is divided into 5 chapters with an appendix of additional resources. Relevant portions of it can be printed and carried in the field. This is a developing resource that contains contributions from many faculty and staff at multiple UCs. It was created in collaboration with the University of California Field Safety Program, a new initiative spearheaded by Sara Souza (firstname.lastname@example.org) at UC Berkeley. In the future, training opportunities may accompany this manual. Continuing feedback on this manual can be directed to Chris Lay, email@example.com, administrative director of the Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History at UCSC.
Risk, embracing the possibility of loss or injury, is integral to experiential learning and is inherent in the field environments where we teach and do research. Any field instructor or researcher must also be an effective risk manager, one who understands and anticipates risks and acts appropriately to reduce the likelihood of negative consequences. Accidents often result from a combination of challenging conditions, inadequate preparation, and poor communication. For this reason, an effective risk manager must incorporate many attributes of excellent leadership, including preparation, competency, effective communication, appropriate judgment & decision-making, self and group awareness, and tolerance for adversity and uncertainty (adapted from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Leadership Educator Notebook).
This resource is organized into the following sections: