Field Research Safety

Hazard Tables

Used with permission from the University College London Department of Geography.

Use these tables of hazard, risk and control measures associated with field work to complete a field safety plan and decide on Go/No-Go criteria. These tables are by no means comprehensive and are meant only for guidance. It may be necessary to edit the information to ensure that it is relevant to the work being carried out and to the participants. Note that the "Environment" section encompasses risks from the environment to the individual. It is also important to include risks to the environment. Such risks and associated control measures may be included under "Other Hazards".

Environment

Weather/Climate

Risks Associated Control Measures
Miscellaneous
  • Consult a daily weather forecast before setting out. Check Met Office forecast,
  • Wear clothing suitable for expected weather conditions. However, be prepared for sudden changes and where possible take a change of clothes.
  • Strong winds and cold weather reduce energy levels; take adequate food and drink supplies.
  • Be aware of places to seek shelter when necessary
  • Allow extra time for traveling in adverse weather conditions.
Hypothermia - This results from dangerous loss of body heat. The main land based cause is wind chill, through inadequate clothing. Immersion in cold water can rapidly lead to hypothermia.
  • Ensure clothing is appropriate and use a survival suit in extremely cold weather.
  • Wear a woolen hat - this will significantly reduce heat loss.
  • Wear lots of layered clothing - remove layers to reduce sweating.
  • Wear woolen gloves under waterproof gloves.
  • Eat plenty of food and drink plenty of fluids.
Frostbite - This results from lack of circulation in the extremities caused by severe cold. It is most common when hands or feet are wet. High altitude can exaggerate the problem as circulation tends to be less efficient in these environments.
  • Wear woolen gloves under waterproof gloves.
  • Make sure shoes/boots are loose enough to allow room for two pairs of warm socks and still not be tight. Restricting circulation with tight shoes will make you more prone to frostbite.
  • Be aware that the altitude you will be working at will affect your susceptibility to frostbite.
  • Ensure that footwear is waterproof.
Poor Visibility - This can be due to driving rain, snow etc. or fog. Working at dawn or dusk can also lead to visibility problems.
  • If problems are due to adverse weather conditions, seek shelter and wait for weather to clear.
  • If working at dawn or dusk, ensure a torch is carried.
  • Wear high visibility clothing, so that you can be seen easily.
  • If working close to cliffs etc. attempt to move away from the edge before visibility becomes too poor.
  • Carry and use a whistle to aid others in locating you.
Sunburn - This can occur even in cold conditions, especially where there is reflected light - e.g. close to or on water, at high altitude, in snowy conditions. Any exposed area of the skin is susceptible (face and hands).
  • Use a high factor Sun block
  • If working in full sun, do not expose skin unnecessarily.
  • Make sure back of neck is covered.
  • Wear Sun glasses to protect eyes.
Dehydration - This can occur in hot or cold weather - wind can be a contributing factor.
  • Drink plenty of fluids - it is recommended that more than 3 litres per person per day is necessary in hot weather.
  • Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks.
Heat stroke/heat exhaustion - These are due to the body over heating and are often accompanied by dehydration.
  • Avoid working in full sun.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Always wear a sun hat.
  • Keep back of neck covered.
  • If feeling particularly hot, find some shade and rest.

Terrain

Terrain types Risks Associated Control Measures
General Slips, trips and falls - Due to "wrong footing" on uneven or wet/slippery ground.
  • Wear footwear suitable for the conditions.
  • Plan route carefully to avoid most uneven ground.
  • Ensure you can see where you are putting your feet before walking.
  • Avoid working in poor light conditions.
Back and neck injuries- Due to jarring spine etc. This can also lead to skull fractures.
  • Do not jump over or off anything. If there is a drop or ditch that has to be negotiated, lower yourself slowly or use existing bridges, steps etc.
  • Be aware that landing "heavily", thus jarring the spine, can lead to basal fractures of the skull or concussion. In the event of such an injury, medical attention must be sought immediately.
Agricultural Land Slips, trips and falls
  • Be aware that agricultural land is often ploughed and therefore deeply rutted.
Breaks and sprains
  • Do not jump over drainage ditches. Always use existing bridges etc.
  • Ensure appropriate footwear is worn to protect ankles.
Risk of personal injury caused by boundary fences - electric fences, Barbed wire, hedges etc.
  • If working close to fences etc. avoid working with your back to the fence, in case you back into it.
  • Do not climb over fences - use gates or stiles
Heathland, Moorland and Mountains Slips, trips and falls
  • Rocky outcrops are extremely slippery when wet, avoid walking on them whenever possible.
  • Wear strong gloves to protect hands against cuts and grazes.
  • When walking down hill, walk across the slope and not down the steepest path, keeping your weight on the back foot as much as possible - if you slip you should try to fall backwards, not forwards!
  • Wherever possible follow existing paths.
Breaks and sprains
  • Do not jump off ledges etc.
  • Ensure appropriate footwear is worn to protect ankles.
Altitude sickness, low oxygen levels - Be aware that when working at high altitude Oxygen levels are lower and you will tire quickly.
  • Do not try to do too much at once.
  • There is a higher risk of sunburn at high altitude - use a higher factor sunblock.
  • If you are feeling tired or yawning this may be due to lack of oxygen, not sleep.
  • Seek specialist advice on climbing to and working at high altitude.
Beaches and Cliffs Falls
  • Be aware of high winds on cliff tops - do not stand closer to the edge than is necessary.
  • Check for soft or crumbling ground near cliff edges.
  • Where necessary approach cliff edges on all fours to spread the body weight.
  • Do not stand and peer over the edge of cliffs.
Slips and trips
  • Take special care on slippery rocks. Always look ahead at ground when walking around the water's edge.
Drowning/cut off by tide
  • Be aware of in coming tides. Check tide tables before commencing work and ensure your escape route is not blocked.
Mudflats and Estuaries Slips, trips and falls.
  • Avoid wearing waders - wellingtons are preferable. Waders are cumbersome and may encourage you to go deeper into water than is safe.
  • Use a pole to probe ahead to assess the stability of shoreline terrain.
  • Take special care on slippery rocks. Always look ahead at ground when walking around the water's edge.
  • When sampling in flowing water environments, be careful of slippery or steep banks and fast currents. If the current is fast or the water looks deeper than knee height, do not enter the water. If you must enter the water, a rope should be tied around your waist and secured to the bank.
Sinking/drowning
  • If stuck in mud, do not struggle as this causes deeper sinking. Roll on back and spread weight evenly whilst attempting to "sledge" to firmer ground.
  • Be aware of in coming tides. Check tide tables before commencing work and ensure your escape route is not blocked.

Location

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risk of causing offense which may lead to personal attack/abuse.
  • Respect must be paid to local customs and problems, and advice taken from local contacts, embassies etc.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Consult Foreign Office for advice.

 

War/Military action.
  • Be aware of political, military or civil unrest through communicating with residents or buying local newspapers.
  • Consult Foreign Office for advice.
  • Inform nearest Embassy of your presence in the country when you arrive to enable them to keep you informed of any hazardous situations and advise you of what to do.
  • Know places of refuge, flight transfers and procedure in an emergency situation.
Working within other establishments, businesses, laboratories etc.
  • Ensure establishment has their own safety guidelines in place.
  • Whilst on the premises follow their guidelines.
Working beside major roads
  • Wear brightly colored, conspicuous clothing.
  • Avoid having your back towards the traffic flow.

District/Neighborhood

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risk of attack/abuse and personal injury
  • Avoid areas known to be "unpleasant"
  • Seek information on areas before setting out.
  • Consult Local Community groups, Local Authorities, Police etc. for information and possible contact names before setting out.
  • Do not enter unfamiliar neighborhoods alone.
  • Walk with confidence and purpose - try not to look as if you are not sure of where you are going.
  • Do not carry more money than you need to.
  • Dress appropriately - try to fit in without attracting attention.
Risk of getting lost - this may lead to straying into high risk areas.
  • Study maps of the area before setting out.
  • Plan your route carefully. Ensure you know of a second route should the first be impassable.
  • Ensure you have a means of raising alarm if you are lost.

Animals

Risks Associated Control Measures
Personal injury and attack by Livestock or "Domesticated" animals.
  • If necessary to do so, pass through fields with animals quickly or limit your working time in that area or return later.
  • Try to avoid walking near to the animals.
  • Be especially aware of pregnant animals or those with young.
Snakes, scorpions, spiders - risks of bites from venomous animals.
  • Wear protective footwear.
  • Look carefully where you are treading or putting your hands.
  • If appropriate, check shoes and shake out clothing before putting them on.
  • Ensure you know where to go or what to do in case of injury - Seek local information before you go into the field.
Biting and stinging insects can cause discomfort and infection e.g. allergic reactions and malaria; ticks may be found on bushes where cattle are or have recently passed and on the cattle themselves.
  • Use insect repellent particularly in the evenings or when near standing water.
  • If appropriate, Anti -malaria tablets should be taken.
  • Carry anti-histamine tablets in case of bites. Be aware that some forms of anti-histamine can cause drowsiness. If affected do not continue with fieldwork.
  • Clean and cover any bites to reduce risk of infection.
  • To remove ticks safely, wear plastic gloves and preferably use a tick removal tool. Be aware that not all types of tool are as safe as they claim to be and can cause damage or compression to the tick. In the absence of a tick-removal tool, use fine-pointed tweezers. Approach the tick from the side to avoid compressing its body. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull/lever upwards until the tick detaches. Do not twist as tweezers exert too much pressure on the mouth parts and they may break off. After removal, disinfect the bite site thoroughly and check for any remaining parts (these may be removed with a sterile needle).Wash hands with soap and water or disinfect them. It can be useful to keep the tick for a while in case you become ill over the following weeks; it can help your doctor in making a diagnosis. Write the date of the bite on a piece of paper in pencil and put it with the tick in a plastic bag, then store in the freezer. To dispose of the tick, throw the whole unopened bag away in the dustbin. Do not handle the tick with bare hands, even if it is dead. Should any symptoms occur, seek medical advice without delay. Photograph any rashes.
Other People's "Pets" - risk of inujry, allergy, etc.
  • Be aware that not all pets are "friendly"
  • If entering a house with a dog or cat, ask that the animal be put in another room if you feel uncomfortable.
  • If you are "wary" of a dog, do not enter the house unless the owner is prepared to remove the animal from the room you are going to be in. (Be polite and tactful when asking!)
  • See also allergies
Phobias
  • Individuals who have phobias relating to e.g. wasps and bees, should be "buddied" with others who do not. The buddy should help to calm the individual and frighten off the insect if necessary.
  • Try to avoid situations which may bring you into contact with the object of your phobia.
  • Ensure at least one other member of the group is aware of the problem.

Pollution

Examples of hazard areas Risks Associated Control Measures
Long term work next to major roads/motorways Risk of long term damage to lungs.
  • Do not enter the area unless absolutely necessary
  • Carry out work at times when traffic levels are low
  • Wear a face mask with a filter suitable for the category of pollutant.
Risk of damage to hearing from loud/continuous noise
  • Do not enter the area unless absolutely necessary
  • Carry out work at times when traffic levels are low
  • Wear ear protection - "ear defenders" will cut out high frequency sound without cutting out all noise; "ear plugs" will cut out all noise.
  • Do not be tempted to use a personal stereo to "drown out" the noise, as they will also prevent you from hearing things you may need to hear. (see travelling alone)
Risk of absorption through skin - some toxins are accumulative and constant absorption or repeated exposure can lead to long term health effects.
  • Do not enter the area unless absolutely necessary
  • Carry out work at times when traffic levels are low
  • Keep skin covered as much as possible
  • Wear gloves if handing plants etc growing near the roadside.
  • Wash/shower as soon as possible after finishing work
  • Be aware that clothing will also be contaminated - wash clothing after finishing work.
Working near power stations/smelting works/chemical plants Risk of long term damage to lungs.
  • Do not enter the area unless absolutely necessary
  • Do not spend longer than necessary in the area.
  • Wear a face mask with a filter suitable for the category of pollutant.
Risk of absorption through skin - some toxins are accumulative and constant absorption or repeated exposure can lead to long term health effects.
  • Do not enter the area unless absolutely necessary
  • Keep skin covered as much as possible
  • Wear gloves if handing plants etc growing near in the area
  • Wash/shower as soon as possible after finishing work
  • Be aware that clothing will also be contaminated - wash clothing after finishing work.
  • Be aware that toxins etc may be carried by rain from higher in the atmosphere.
  • Be cautious of any skin reaction that may occur - seek medical attention.

 

Manual Handling

Loading/Unloading Vehicles

Risks Associated Control Measures
Unstable loads - if equipment is not stacked properly in the vehicle there is a risk of it moving whilst the vehicle is in motion. This may injure the driver/passenger or may fall when the doors of the vehicle are opened for unloading.
  • Ensure that heavy equipment is on the bottom of the pile.
  • Pack awkward shaped items into square boxes if possible.
  • Tie down any loose items.
  • Do not stack equipment higher than the seats.
Back Injury - due to incorrect lifting techniques
  • Stand close to object, with feet apart.
  • Keep back straight.
  • Bend knees.
  • Keep head up.
  • Avoid twisting or bending or repetitive work.
  • Seek proper training in manual handling techniques

Moving Equipment to Site

Risks Associated Control Measures
Back Injury - due to incorrect lifting techniques
  • Stand close to object, with feet apart.
  • Keep back straight.
  • Bend knees.
  • Keep head up.
  • Avoid twisting or bending or repetitive work.
  • Seek training in proper manual handling techniques.
Back injury - due to incorrect carrying techniques
  • Where possible carry equipment in a rucksack.
  • Do not overload rucksacks.
  • Do not carry equipment further than is necessary - get as close to site as possible by other means.
  • Do not single-handedly attempt to carry anything that is "too heavy". This will vary from individual to individual - know your limits and do not be persuaded to over stretch that limit.
  • Be aware of awkward shaped loads and unevenly balanced loads.
  • Where possible dismantle large pieces of equipment into smaller, lighter components.
Injury to arms and hands - strains, sprains, breaks, cuts and grazes
  • Where possible carry equipment in a rucksack.
  • Wear protective gloves.
  • Keep sleeves rolled down.
  • Be aware of sharp edges/corners.
  • Be aware of pieces of equipment which may pinch the skin - hinges, lids etc.

 

Chemical/Biological

Reagents

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risk of personal injury/long term health effects
  • Read all relevant COSHH guidelines and risk assessments pertaining to reagents to be used and follow instructions for use.(Available from Lab Supervisor)
  • Wear gloves and safety glasses
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Clear up any spillages immediately using methods indicated in COSHH guidelines.
Risk of environmental damage due to inappropriate disposal
  • Do not pour any chemical into drains, rivers etc.
  • Dispose of all reagents in accordance with Departmental guidelines (see Departmental Safety Arrangements)
  • Waste should be brought back to the Department in clearly labelled containers for disposal.
  • Do not mix different types of waste reagent - they may react violently or need to be disposed of by different methods.
  • Do not put waste reagents into "food" containers - eg. Soft drinks bottles, Ice cream tubs etc.
  • Do not put waste or any reagent into any inappropriately labelled container.
Risk of endangering other people's health and safety
  • Label all reagents clearly.
  • Do not leave chemicals unattended in the field.
  • Follow guidelines for correct disposal.
  • Clear up any spillages immediately using methods indicated in COSHH guidelines.
  • Do not put reagents into "food" containers - eg. Soft drinks bottles, Ice cream tubs etc.

Agro-chemicals

Risks Associated Control Measures
Crop spraying - Risks of poisoning due to ingestion and absorption of agrochemicals including organophosphates.
  • Seek information from land owner as to when crop spraying is likely and when entry to field will be safe. Do not enter fields until safe to do so.
  • Avoid pools and puddles which may contain chemicals
  • Ensure waterproof protective gloves are worn.
  • Clean hands frequently, especially before eating - preferably use antiseptic medical wipes.
Plants and Soils - may be contaminated with chemicals. Risk of ingestion and absorption through skin.
  • Be aware that any skin contact is hazardous - avoid wearing shorts if walking through a field that has been sprayed.
  • Keep arms covered - long gloves or gauntlets are suitable.
  • Ensure waterproof protective gloves are worn.
  • Clean hands frequently, especially before eating (or smoking!) - preferably use antiseptic medical wipes.

Pathogens

Risks Associated Control Measures
Health risks from working in aquatic environments
  • Be aware of health risks from water borne pathogens eg. Hepatitis 'A', Weil's Disease, Polio and toxic cyano-bacteria
  • Hepatitis 'A' and Polio vaccinations are highly recommended.
  • Ensure Tetanus vaccinations are up to date
  • Wear waterproof gloves.
  • Clean hands frequently. Always wash hands before eating, preferably using antiseptic medical wipes.
Health risks from miscellaneous sources
  • Ensure Tetanus vaccinations are up to date
  • Hepatitis 'A' and Polio vaccinations are highly recommended.
  • Have the recommended vaccinations before travel.
  • Avoid drinking contaminated water
  • Avoid close, prolonged contact with infected people.
  • In remote/overseas locations be careful of eating food prepared by other people - particularly meats or fish and salads.
  • In remote/overseas locations - Be wary of accepting ice in drinks.
Risks from agricultural diseases
  • Be aware that some fields are cordoned off due to soil borne pathogens. These are easily spread from field to field if you walk or drive through them.
  • Do not enter fields with DEFRA notices on them, even if the land owner gives permission.
  • Consult DEFRA for further information.

Plants

Risks Associated Control Measures
Associated risks
  • see also - allergies
  • see also - pathogens - agricultural diseases
Risk of Poisoning
  • Do not eat any wild plants as they may be poisonous or carry parasites.
  • If handling plant material, wear gloves.
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Plants may be coated with any airborne pollutant present in the area - avoid brushing against plants with bare arms/legs.
Cuts and grazes
  • Be aware of any plants with thorns, spines etc.
  • Clean and cover any cuts or grazes sustained to prevent infection.
  • Be aware of low, over-hanging branches.
  • Be aware of tree roots and creepers that may cause you to trip.

 

Working near water

Working Near Water

Risks Associated Control Measures
Slips, trips and falls.
  • Have a proper footwear to avould slips and falls - hiking boots if working on land, wading boots or rubber boots for working in water.
  • Use a pole to probe ahead to assess the stability of shoreline terrain.
  • If stuck in mud, do not struggle as this causes deeper sinking. Roll on back and spread weight evenly whilst attempting to "sledge" to firmer ground.
  • Take special care on slippery rocks around lake shores and river banks. Always look ahead at ground when walking around the water's edge and plan route carefully.
  • When sampling in flowing water environments, be careful of slippery or steep banks and fast currents. If the current is fast or the water looks deeper than knee height, do not enter the water. If you must enter the water, a rope should be tied around your waist and secured to the bank.
Risk of being swept away by large waves/fast currents
  • Stay clear of promenades/causeways during storms
  • Do not enter water if currents are fast.
  • Check weather conditions and avoid field work when flash floods or high surf are a possibility.
  • Make sure everyone on the team has good swimming abilities.
Associated Risks
  • See also chemical/biological hazards
  • See also Weather

 

Lone/out of hours working

Miscellaneous Hazards

Risks Associated Control Measures
Difficulties in summoning help when required; risk of abuse/attack
  • Where possible work, as a minimum, in pairs.
  • Where possible carry a radio or mobile phone.
  • Leave details of the field site and a work plan (include contact name and address) with colleagues in the department or at home prior to any trip.
  • Specify dates and times of departure and return
  • If your plans change, inform someone as soon as possible.
  • Do not carry valuables or large sums of money unless you need to.
  • Carry a personal alarm (This advice is directed to males as well as females - all are equally vulnerable when alone!)
  • Instigate a "check-in" system with a colleague or supervisor - Phone in at regular intervals. If you do not phone or return at a certain time arrange for suitable action to be taken.
  • Trust your intuition - If you feel scared or uneasy, do not ignore it.

Traveling Alone

Risks Associated Control Measures
On foot - risks of personal attack/abuse
  • Whenever possible avoid walking alone at night.
  • Keep to busy, well lit roads.
  • Avoid poorly lit or rarely used underpasses.
  • Walk facing on-coming traffic to avoid kerb-crawlers.
  • Do not use a personal stereo - you will be unable to hear anyone approaching from behind.
  • Plan your journey in advance - tell someone which route you mean to take and estimated time of arrival at your destination.
  • Walk with confidence and purpose - try not to look as if you are not sure of where you are going.
  • Never look as though you are carrying a lot of money.
  • Dress appropriately - try to fit in without attracting attention.
By Car
  • Make sure the vehicle is in good working order before setting off.
  • Make sure you have change for a telephone in an emergency.
  • Plan your journey in advance - tell someone which route you mean to take and estimated time of arrival at your destination. If this changes, ensure you inform your contact as soon as you can.
  • Do not leave valuables visible in the car - even when you are in it.
  • Keep bags etc. out of reach of open windows.
  • When parking in daylight, consider what the area will be like after dark.
  • When returning to the vehicle, quickly look around it to make sure there is no one waiting for you.
  • If you are forced to stop by another car, stay in the car, lock the doors and speak through a slightly open window.
  • Make sure you know what to do if the car breaks down. (ie. who to phone; where to phone from etc.)

Staying in Hotels

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risks to personal safety
  • At reception, try to avoid letting other people overhear your name and room number.
  • Do not go into other people's rooms unless you know it is absolutely safe.
  • Do not allow people into your room unless you know who they are.
  • If you hear a disturbance, stay in your room and phone for help.

 

Health

Accidents

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risk of injury
  • Ensure that one of the fieldwork team is trained in First Aid.
  • Carry a First Aid kit
  • Medical Supplies or treatment - be aware of where these can be bought or received if there is an accident
  • Have plans of action and be aware of where help can be sought should an accident occur in a remote location.
  • Remember that it is essential to fill out an accident report and return it to the Departmental Safety Officer on return. It may help to make notes as soon after the incident as is possible.

Medical Conditions and Fitness

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risk of illness whilst in the field
  • Ensure any necessary medication is carried at all times
  • Ensure someone else is aware of medical conditions and will recognize signs and symptoms. They should also be informed of the location of medication.
  • Diabetics should ensure sufficient food is carried in case there is a delay in returning.
  • Medical Supplies or treatment - be aware of where these can be bought or received if a medical condition or illness arises
Risks of Dental problems - it is often difficult to get dental treatment in remote locations!
  • Ensure that a full dental check up is received before departure
  • Be aware of where Dental treatment can be received
  • Carry emergency dental treatment as First Aid.
Fatigue leading to lack of concentration, accidents and risk of injury
  • Do not try to do too much in one day, especially if the work is to be followed by a long drive home
  • Be aware that working at high altitude can quickly lead to fatigue due to reduced oxygen intake.
  • Lack of sleep can lead to accidents - ensure sufficient rest is taken.
Lack of Physical Fitness - leading to risk of personal injury/illness
  • Know your limitations - do not be forced to over-stretch your limit.
  • Do not be afraid to tell someone if you feel unwell or cannot carry on with a task.
  • Plan your work within your limits.
  • If you feel unwell - stop.
Mental Health and Self Care
  • Assess the effect of potential mental health challenges on the team member’s relationships; difficulty accessing treatment; and the effect of the treatment itself.
  • Develop a specific work plan, considering any side effects of medications that limit memory, attention, and energy level
  • Consider mental demands during field work (long periods of time spent in the field, travelling to dangerous places (urban or natural environments, anxiety of isolation). Plann self-care activitied in order to manage the accesive level of stress.

Allergies

Risks Associated Control Measures
Anaphylactic Shock - severe cases of allergic reaction can result in breathing difficulties
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Be cautious of the first signs of allergic reaction and DO NOT ignore them.
Some plant material may cause allergic reactions - Allergic reactions can cause discomfort and in severe cases anaphylactic shock.
  • If aware of an allergy, carry any necessary medication. Be aware that some forms of anti-histamine can cause drowsiness. If affected do not continue with fieldwork.
  • Be cautious of the first signs of allergic reaction and DO NOT ignore them.
Insect Bites and stings
  • If aware of an allergy, carry any necessary medication. Be aware that some forms of anti-histamine can cause drowsiness. If affected do not continue with fieldwork.
  • Be cautious of the first signs of allergic reaction and DO NOT ignore them.

Food and Drink

Risks Associated Control Measures
Lack of food and Drink - various risks including dehydration, fatigue, fainting etc.
  • Do not forget to stop for food breaks
  • Drink plenty of fluids, particularly in hot weather.
  • Always carry plenty of water.
  • Carry food supplies with you if working in remote areas.
  • Breakfast is particularly important before a day in the field.
Alcohol - Risks of dehydration; inability to work efficiently due to hangover; in cold weather, alcohol consumption can lead to hypothermia
  • Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on the evening before going into the field.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol during fieldwork
  • Be aware that alcohol can impair judgement and will remain in the system for several hours after consumption.
Miscellaneous Risks -Food poisoning, dehydration, allergies
  • In remote/overseas locations - Be wary of accepting ice in drinks.
  • In remote/overseas locations be careful of eating food prepared by other people - particularly meats or fish and salads.
  • Try not to drink contaminated water
  • Caffeinated drinks (coffee,Cola etc.) can enhance dehydration - avoid drinking them in hot weather
  • Be cautious of the first signs of allergic reaction and DO NOT ignore them.

 

Equipment

Using Equipment

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risks of personal injury, damage to equipment
  • Read Risk Assessments associated with each piece of equipment
  • Read the instruction manual - follow the instructions!
  • Read manufacturers safety information
  • Do not try to bypass or tamper with any safety device.
  • Seek instruction from trained personnel.
  • Do not use damaged or faulty equipment.
  • Ensure the equipment is suitable for the work - try not to improvise!
  • Do not use electrical equipment in wet/damp conditions or if you have wet hands.

Equipment Failure

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risk of personal injury/ injury to others
  • Do not use equipment found to be damaged or faulty.
  • Do not attempt to repair equipment if you are untrained.
  • Report any faults as soon as possible.
  • Label faulty equipment clearly so that no one else tries to use it. Try to write down the "symptoms" of the failure and any action taken.

Checking Equipment

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risks of personal injury/injury to others
  • Always check equipment before use - do not assume it has already been checked.
  • Check external appearance for signs of wear - electrical cables, ropes, cracks in casing etc.
  • Ensure that any built in safety devices are operating correctly.
  • Check for sharp edges.
  • Do not use equipment that is damaged or found to be faulty.
  • Report any faults found to the relevant people.

 

Dealing with the Public

Other People's Homes

Risks Associated Control Measures
Associated Risks
  • See also Lone working
  • See also Animals - other people's pets
Risk of personal attack/abuse
  • Do not enter the house if the appropriate person is not available.
  • Wait to be invited in or at least ask to enter.
  • Acknowledge that it is their territory; let them lead the way.
  • If the person is drunk or aggressive, do not enter.
  • Ensure you can get out quickly if necessary.
  • If you feel threatened, make an excuse to leave.
Causing offence, leading to abuse/attack
  • Try not to react to dirty or smelly surroundings.
  • Do not spread your belongings around.
  • Take care with documents you may not want them to see, but avoid being "secretive".
  • Let them know how much of their time you will need.

Unexpected Behavior

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risk of personal attack/abuse due to misunderstanding of nature of work.
  • Be aware of any delicate issues involved with discussions or interviews e.g. before asking a farmer questions regarding his land management, explain why you need to know.
  • Ensure landowners and their employees know who you are and what you are doing.
Aggressive Behavior
  • Do not underestimate the importance of body language.
  • Talk yourself out of problems; placate rather than provoke.
  • Do not turn your back on someone who is behaving aggressively.
  • Stay Calm, speak gently and slowly.
  • Do not be enticed into an argument.
  • Avoid an aggressive stance. Crossed arms, hands on hips or raised hands will challenge and confront.
  • Keep your distance.
  • Never try to touch someone who is angry - this will not calm the situation.
  • Keep your eye on potential escape routes
Physical attack
  • Try to get away as quickly as possible. Move towards a place where you know there will be other people.
  • Carry a personal alarm - set it off as close to the aggressor's ear as possible and then throw it out of reach.
  • Shout and scream - shout something practical like "call the police!" or "Fire!" - people rarely react to cries of "help!" or "rape!"
  • If grabbed and unable to break free - pretend to vomit. This will often have the desired effect!

Dealing With Strangers

Risks Associated Control Measures
Causing offence, leading to abuse/attack
  • Seek training in good interview techniques.
  • Where possible "vet" interviewees first.
  • Conduct interviews at neutral locations or where neither party could be at risk.
  • Where possible conduct any interviews with an observer.
  • Seek advice and support from local groups.
  • Do not wear clothes that might cause offense.

Public Places

Risks Associated Control Measures
Causing offense, leading to abuse/attack
  • Do not stand in places where you will be causing an obstruction.
  • Always carry your ID card and be prepared to identify yourself.
  • Seek training in good interview techniques.
  • Consider your dress carefully - is it suitable for the location.
  • Make sure you have sought permission from relevant authorities to work in your chosen location.

 

Attitudes towards Protected Characteristics (LGBTQ/Gender/Age)

Legislative Barriers

Behavioral Barriers

  • Check local customs and social practices and be aware of current levels of acceptance and tolerance of diversity and reported hostility arising from that.
  • Dress appropriately - try to fit in without attracting attention.
  • Even in LGBT friendly countries, take the same precautions you would at home. For example, don’t leave drinks unattended and be wary if you’re offered drinks by a stranger
  • If you receive unwelcome attention or unwelcome remarks about your sexuality or gender identity, it’s usually best to ignore them and move to a safe place. Depending on the country or area you’re in, you may then want to report it to the authorities