Field trips are a valuable part of the educational experience. The learning process is improved by the opportunity to observe things in the field. However field trips expose participants to risks that are not present in the classroom. Injuries caused during field trips create exposure to liability for the University.
Department employees who plan and organize field trips can reduce the exposure to risk and better ensure the safety of University staff and students during field trips by addressing, during the planning stage, the specific risks that arise out of field trips. The following list describes measures that can help organize and control the field trip experience; it is not an all-inclusive list. Departments are encouraged to document their own protocols and procedures, which may include, but are certainly not limited to the following:
- Participant Eligibility
- Field Trip Planning Checklist
- Orientation Meeting
- UC Waiver of Liability
- Travel Insurance
- Emergency Information and Contacts
- Release & License to Use Image
- Minors on Field Trips
To improve staff control and supervision and reduce risks and exposure to liability, UC policy and practice limits participation in UC-sponsored field trips to employees in the course and scope of their employment and students registered in the class in which the trip occurs. Students, spouses, children, and friends not registered in a class are not allowed to participate in class field trips without specific authorization from a department control point. If a department determines that a person not registered in a class may participate in a class field trip, that person must sign and submit a UC Waiver of Liability just like the other participants in the field trip.
For departments that sponsor frequent field trips it is helpful to develop a field-trip checklist of standard issues that employees who lead field trips can consider during the planning process. It might include the following:
- Goals & objectives
- Known risks; means of addressing them
- Information about weather
- Emergency response plan
- Composition of field team
- Participant emergency contact information
- Accommodations during travel
- Need for first-aid supplies and expertise
- Medical needs of travelers with pre-existing conditions
- Clothing, personal equipment, and field equipment
- Food and supplies on-site and during travel to and from the site
- Mandatory safety training in specific areas of risk applicable to the event as appropriate
- Necessary University forms
- Necessary documents for individual travelers: drivers license, passport, etc.
Prior to the start of the field trip it may be useful to conduct a mandatory orientation meeting. Depending upon the length and complexity of the field trip this could be a 30-minute meeting before everyone gets on the bus or one or more longer meetings that could, for trips that include minors, also involve the mandatory participation of the parents or guardians. Review administrative matters and important information: contacts and addresses, clothing, transportation, lodging, money, personal health and safety, required documents, telephones, communications, medical issues, etc. Provide information about the University’s travel insurance. Prepare and present an emergency contingency and communication plans.
All field trip participants, with the exception of employees in the course and scope of their employment, must sign a UC Waiver of Liability. Departments that sponsor activities that involve off-campus field trips are responsible for preparing UC Waivers of Liability and making certain that all participants sign and submit one before being allowed to participate in the activity. If an itinerary has been developed, it can be referenced and attached to the Waiver of Liability. Go to UCSB: Waivers of Liability for more information about waivers of liability.
Departments may choose to make the transportation arrangements to get students to and from the field trip destination. If it creates difficulties to do otherwise, the University owns vehicles and has agreements with commercial ground carriers to meet this need. However, transporting people creates it’s own set of risks. Since the goal of a field trip is the instruction that occurs at the field trip destination, it is preferable if the University can minimize its involvement in transportation arrangements. If it creates no hardship or inconvenience there are fewer complications if the role of the University begins and ends at the field trip destination and participants make their own transportation arrangements.
UNIVERSITY VEHICLES: Go to Automobiles – UC Vehicles.
EMPLOYEES' PERSONAL VEHICLES: Go to Automobiles – Personal Vehicles.
RENTAL VEHICLES: Go to Automobiles – Rental Vehicles.
STUDENTS' PERSONAL VEHICLES: When a student uses a personal vehicle it is the student's responsibility to maintain appropriate insurance. The University does not purchase or provide insurance coverage for the personal vehicles of students.
BUS CHARTERS: Departments may charter buses to get field trip participants to an off-campus site. When the University charters buses, the bus company is required to carry insurance that is based on the number of passengers. The UCSB Procurement Services Office has agreements with bus companies that meet UC’s insurance requirements or, when it does not in a particular city, it can assist in locating one that does meet our insurance requirements.
BOAT CHARTERS: When the University charters boats the charter company is required to carry insurance based on the number of passengers. (When field trip participants purchase their own tickets on a regularly scheduled boat on which member of the public may also purchase tickets the University’s boat charter insurance requirements do not apply). Go to UCSB: Boat Charters for more information.
The University provides Travel Accident Insurance, free of charge, to faculty, staff, and students participating in University activities. The employee leading the field trip can enroll all participating faculty, staff, and students in the Travel Insurance Program or can, in some cases, ask individuals to enroll individually. In addition to the standard travel insurance medical/accident coverage, this policy includes coverage for emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, security extraction and other travel assistance and benefits. Go to UCSB: Travel Insurance for more information about UC Travel Insurance.
Departments can ask participants to provide information on the Emergency Information & Contacts form about who should be contacted in the event of an emergency and who their insurance carrier is.
The form also offers the opportunity for the participant to advise the trip organizers of any allergies, dietary restrictions, or other conditions they have that the department should be aware of and any medications they may be required to take. It is important to review this information and to understand what, if anything, it will require of the employees leading the field trip. All this information is confidential and should only be shared with people who have a need to know.
The employee leading the trip should take the Emergency Information & Contacts form with them in case a participant is injured. If the form is not needed, it should be destroyed when the trip is over. If the form is used for one reason or another, it should be retained for three years after the trip is over. If the department has had to rely on the form, the hard copy must be retained.
If minors are going on the field trip use the Emergency Information & Contacts for Minor form.
Prior to making public use of a participant’s image, departments must obtain a signed Release & License to Use Image, Name and/or Voice form from the participant. Go to UCSB: Releases for more information about releases.
An itinerary is a good planning tool. When minors are participating in a field trip and traveling without a parent or guardian, it should be considered a necessity so that parents and guardians know where their children are and what they are doing hour to hour when they are under University supervision. Go to UCSB: Minors – Risk Management for more information.
Departments that sponsor field trips that include minor participants, to one degree or another, assume responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of the minors in their care and custody. Departments who assume this responsibility should be aware of the specific risks that are involved and implement best practices and applicable risk management measures to reduce the associated risk exposures. For more information about minors see UCSB: Minors on Campus.