Field Activities Plan Instruction Sheet

In the spring of 2017, EHS, with the help of FRO, safety technicians and field researchers, created some E-Learning modules The “Creating a Field Activities Plan” module was designed to equip the researcher with the knowledge needed to plan and carry out safe field research trips and is required before one starts on their FAP. 

The following are instructions that will allow participation in the EHS modules:
Go to https://training.ehs.ualberta.ca
To log in:-
Username: Your CCID
Password: Same password you use to log into Bear Tracks
Once logged in:-
Scroll to bottom of page until you see the 'Field Research Office' category, here you will find the module. 


These instructions are to also assist in completing a Field Activities Plan.  The paragraph numbers below coincide with those in the Field Activities Plan.  This template is designed to help you ensure you are meeting your due diligence obligations and is to be utilized in conjunction with a review of the Off-Campus Activity and Travel Policy.  The plan should be prepared well in advance of your field project and shared with all participants.  As your field project progresses, this should be modified to reflect changes in the risk.  The supervising researcher or school/course director should keep a copy of the plan for 5 years.  It is a good idea to keep a record of any daily safety meetings, informal training, pre-departure orientations etc. held regarding field activities (whether prior to or during the field activity).  See an example of a completed FAP.

1. Project Description/Overview 

It is very important that your field location be noted so that others may be able to know your exact location.  If you have multiple locations, it is important that you note all of these.

2. Field Research Participants
Complete listing of all personnel in the field. *All personnel should complete the Emergency Info Form on the FRO website; Volunteers and students need to also complete the Volunteer and Student Waiver and Informed Consent Form  and non-U of A participants need to complete the Non UofA Participant Waiver and Informed Consent Form.

3. Document Management
Management of documents for field research is very important.  In the event that a crisis in the field should occur, this will let others know where to find this crucial information.

4. Emergency Response Information
Does 911 work or local equivalent, police, nearest medical, fire? You can make a test call to 911 from your area, just indicate when you are first calling that it is a test call.  If not, contact the Field Research Office for the “back door” emergency numbers.  You are encouraged to register with U of A Protective Services, particularly for international travel

5. Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
Plan for response to an emergency situation that could arise (e.g., emergency contact information, communication plan, plan for unexpectedly long stays in remote locations, extreme weather, personal injury, natural disaster or political instability).  Ensure all participants understand the plan and know how to contact emergency response personnel.

The ERP can be a part of the Field Activities Plan and should include:

  • Posting and providing to all participants:
    • emergency numbers;
    • how to contact emergency services;
    • information on location that they will need to provide;
  • First aid plan (ensure trained personnel);
  • Plan to ensure an adequate supply of food and water;
  • Procedures in case of a particular type of emergency (extreme weather, personal injury, fire, wildfire, overdue/lost person, chemical spill, natural disaster, political insurgency, etc.);
  • Plan to inform the appropriate University personnel after the emergency. See FRO, In Case of An Incident

6. Hazard Assessment and Control
Provide information as relevant on steps taken to reduce risks associated with the travel and activities (e.g., training, protective equipment or measures (e.g., immunizations), standard operating procedures for hazardous equipment or activities).  See FRO Hazard Assessment and Control Tool for some typical hazards and controls. **Keep in mind that the hazard assessment and control tool is meant to give you some examples and that your own individual hazard assessment and control will be very specific to your activity and location. **

All participants should be given a copy of the plan and instructed/oriented/trained as to the appropriate control measures.

This hazard assessment should be reviewed and revised/added to if necessary when out in the field.  Daily tailgate meetings are a good practice and these should be documented and signed off by each members of the field research team - see item #7 below. The “daily field safety logbook” should be kept on-site when in the field and should be kept with the principal investigator when back on campus.

7. Daily Field Safety Meetings
Due to Alberta Occupational Health and Safety legislation, field researchers are required to conduct daily field safety meetings. FRO and EHS have developed a Daily Field Safety Log book to ease the task of identifying, controlling, and documenting hazards encountered by University of Alberta field researchers and to supplement your Field Activities Plan. If you are either a University of Alberta field researcher or graduate student, please request your Daily Field Safety Log Book now.

8. Field Worksite Safety Inspection
It is important the PI or research supervisor to attend at the site and do a field worksite safety inspection.  Here is an example of a form that could be used. It will need to be tailored to the activities that your research lab are doing.

9. Permits Required or Ethics Clearance Needed?
See  FRO Website, Permissions.  Please note that if you are travelling outside of the province or outside of the country, you need to make yourself and your participants aware of the laws of that land as these will be the ones that apply.  If the laws require less than those of Alberta, it is recommended that you meet the standard that Alberta has set.

10. Training
Much of the training requirements for field research come from a review of the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety legislation.  However, FRO has generated a List of Training Resources and provide for the requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety legislation as well as some recommended providers.  It is important to retain your training certificates or records with the Field Activity Plan.

11.  Immunizations
Sometimes, field research within Canada but especially international research requires Immunizations.  For more information, see FRO Travel page. Check off those that are needed, list others that are needed and ensure your participants make arrangements to receive them in accordance with prescribed timelines.   You should keep a copy of the immunization records with the Field Activities Plan.

11.  Accommodations
List particulars of your accommodations here, however, remember to include include storage/preparation of food, safe water supply and fuel use in your Hazard Assessment.

12.  Meals
Preparation of your meals is important to consider when preparing the Hazard Assessment and Control part of the FAP.  See FRO’s Hazard Assessment and Control for camp preparations.

13.  Transportation
List all of your expected transportation modes to, from and at Field Camp/Site.  Complete a Hazard Assessment and Control for whichever means of transportation you will be using.  Also see FRO's Vehicle Page.
Vehicles equipped with appropriate safety equipment? 
 See Hazard and Control Tool-Equipment, Vehicles
University Auto Insurance does not extend beyond Canada and the US!
See FRO's Insurance Page. The onus is on the researcher to determine insurance requirements in the country that they are renting the vehicle in and what may be included or excluded in the rental agreement. For instance, if a researcher goes to Africa and needs to hire a vehicle and driver to travel, the requirements in several zones may vary depending on who has jurisdiction (ie. National Parks or rebel controlled territory).

Third Party Liability insurance coverage of up to $2 million is recommended to be purchased along with any additional insurance covering damage to the vehicle. A hired driver should be covered and paid by the person or business that is supplying the vehicle, however, in third world countries, this is not always the case.  It is up to the researcher to determine whether there is insurance in place.

Vehicle Standard Operating Procedures developed?  See FRO's vehicle page

14.  Drivers
If you are driving a U of A owned or leased vehicle, you must be a U of A authorized driver.  Training is provided free of charge by the Fleet Safety Officer.  See U-Drive’s site more information.

15.  Communications
Contact with the outside:  How can group be reached? How can they call for help? See FRO’s page on Communication.  Also, please note that FRO has a pool of Iridium satellite phones for rent as well as GPS text communicators (inReach devices) and you can visit FRO Satellite request form  and the inReach request form to book yours.

16.  Equipment
List major equipment (expensive / potentially hazardous). All personnel should be appropriately trained in equipment use. Complete a Hazard Assessment and Control (as needed) for all equipment that will be used.   Here is a copy of a Vehicle Inspection Log that you could use to record your inspections of equipment.

It is highly recommended that all UofA owned equipment should be registered for off-campus use.  See  FRO, Planning, Insurance

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) -
Please list all PPE that you have provided for your field personnel or that participants must provide themselves [bear spray, hard hats, steel toe boots, protective eyewear, etc.].

17.  Insurance Issues
List particular insurance needs and how they have been taken care. (e.g., off-campus equipment registered, participants informed of the need for them to purchase additional health or travel insurance (in case of need for medi-vac), certificate of insurance required e.g. access to land) See FRO, Planning, Insurance

Make sure participants have been informed of the requirement to purchase travel, health and personal travel insurance

18.  Approval
For the approval you need, please consult the Off-Campus Activity and Travel Policy.  Your assessment of risk for your field research activities will determine who will be signing for approval.  For example, if your risk is medium or high and your research team only involves Graduate Students, the Supervising Researcher can approve.  If you are taking Undergraduates and your risk is medium or high, you will need approval from either the Department Chair or the Faculty Dean.  If your risk falls in the Extreme category, you will need the approval of the Faculty Dean in collaboration with the Office of Insurance and Risk Assessment.  Finally, you should have your whole research team (anyone that will be out in the field) sign off on the FAP before heading out to the field as they should be aware of the risks that they will face and what controls must be put into place to mitigate those risks.