Planning for the Activity.
All planning for the activity needs to be carried out well in advance of the planned start date in order to ensure that there should any changes be necessary they can be considered and approved.
The location and activities to be undertaken should be researched thoroughly to ensure that they match the purpose and desired outcomes of the fieldwork as well as being suitable for the intended participants and the activities to be carried out. Any accessibility issues need to be considered at this point. This information needs to be included in the risk assessment and provided to intended participants as part of the pre-activity information to allow them to make an informed decision regarding their participation.
The pages on Travel and Health Overseas which has links to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice should be consulted whilst planning for any fieldwork that involves working overseas. The FCO webpage and guidance through the current University Insurance Provider must be taken into account in your Travel Risk Assessment (also available from the Travel and Health Overseas webpage).
Any additional equipment required for the activity need to be identified and plans for their provision made. This should be carried out well enough in advance to ensure that they are in place for the commencement of the activity.
Travel and accommodation need to be planned for and arranged prior to the activity.
The Fieldwork Leader will need to ensure that any travel needed as part of the activity is suitable for the participants and included in the risk analysis. Any travel that is necessary but will be outside the remit of the fieldwork, such as travel to or from an airport or station, should also be identified and any contingency plans needed should be put in place. This may include providing participants with emergency contact details to allow them to notify the fieldwork leader if they are to be delayed or if an incident has occurred.
All participants should be notified of the travel arrangements and provided with additional guidance if there are potential safety issues associated with the travel.
If a third party provider is providing the travel they should be treated as any other, and it should be checked that they have suitable and sufficient risk management and insurance. The Field Work Leader retains the ability to decide not to use the provided transportation if it is found to be unsafe.
The Leader must ensure that the selected accommodation meets the requirements of the activity and that there is a procedure in place for checking its suitability and safety.
Most activities will include the potential for some personal time for the participants. Although this is obviously not part of the jurisdiction of the activity it is worthwhile to define to participants the timeframe for time off, any additional risks that may affect participants during this time, guidelines for activities (for example alcohol intake) and if necessary activities which the institution cannot allow to happen.
Risk Analysis and management system
As part of the planning process for any fieldwork a full risk analysis of the activity should be completed. It is reasonable that for an activity that is repeated on a regular basis or low risk similar activities one risk analysis can be completed and need only be updated to reflect any changes in the activity or any differing risks. This generic assessment should cover all basic precautions and also identify any circumstances where additional risk controls may be needed.
The risk analysis should include:
- A threat analysis for the destination (if overseas please refer to the FCO website, for locations in this country the local police may be able to provide advice)
- An analysis of the activity itself and what hazards may be present
- Incident management and emergency procedures
- Reporting of any accident or incident
- A review process post activity to ensure continual improvement where possible
The field work leader will need to make this analysis available to all participants prior to the activities being undertaken.
1. Threat Analysis
Using local knowledge or contacts and if overseas the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website a full picture of any security threats or political natural or health threats to the safety of participants should be created. Any control measures that it is possible to put into place to reduce these threats should be identified and how best to implement them. This info should be provided to all potential participants.
2. Risk Analysis
The risk analysis itself will need to identify foreseeable health safety environmental and cultural risks that may be encountered as part of the activity and identify what can be put in place (control measures) to reduce the impact of these risks. It needs to cover all aspects of the activity and be fully completed prior to the commencement of the activity and to allow it to go ahead. The fieldwork leader must ensure that risks and controls are monitored and managed throughout the whole of the activity. The risk analysis should be completed by a competent person - that is one who is competent in the activity being carried out, in running field trips and who has received some training on completion of risk assessment.
Occasionally something unexpected will happen or the course of the activity will deviate from that planned. At this point there may need to be dynamic risk assessment and this ability to change the risk analysis due to changing circumstances is to be encouraged but must not be viewed as a replacement for the risk analysis and management system.
A written contingency plan should be produced before the activity commences – this should relate to the risk and threat analyses and identify what procedures are and who needs to carry out which actions in case of an incident occurring. The plan should cover what support is available, who the home contact is, missing persons procedure, medical emergencies, civil unrest and natural disasters.
In all situations there should be a means of summoning help – this may be via mobile phone or personal location beacon or similar.
USHA Higher Education Sector Guidance on Health and Safety in Fieldwork and Travel Including all offsite visits and travel in the UK and overseas