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Fieldwork safety standard

This standard describes the University’s approach for managing significant risks associated with fieldwork.

Code Of Practice


This policy applies to all fieldwork undertaken by staff and students of the University that is part of their work or study at the University, whether this takes place in the UK or elsewhere. Any such work that is undertaken alone may also fall into the remit of the Lone Working Policy.

Relevant legislation

Depending on the nature of the work, additional Regulations may be relevant, such as:

  • Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981

  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992

  • Control of Noise Regulations 2005

  • Diving at Work Regulations 1997

  • Electricity at Work Regulations 1999

  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1999

Fieldwork undertaken outside the UK will be subject to the laws of that country. The way the University manages these activities will remain subject to UK legislation. Risk assessments should reflect the fact that in some circumstances more than one legal framework might apply.



Fieldwork is ‘… any work carried out by staff or students for the purposes of teaching, research, or other activities while representing the institution off-site.’ (Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).

Fieldwork therefore includes activities such as undertaking social science interviews and research in urban areas, attendance at conferences and visits to institutions, as well as activities more traditionally associated with the term, such as survey or collection work carried out in more remote areas, and teaching groups of students in locations away from the university.

Fieldwork or field course leader

A named person in overall charge of the fieldwork or field course. This person takes an active part in the fieldwork or field course and is responsible for making decisions in the field.


Includes all members of the field course other than the leader. Assistants and demonstrators on taught field courses are included in this category.

Overview of requirements

The University has produced a detailed Fieldwork Safety Standard for all fieldwork activities. The following sections provide an overview of the key requirements of this standard:

Fieldwork risk assessments

A risk assessment is required for all fieldwork where there is a foreseeable significant risk of injury or loss. Risk assessments should be an integral part of the initial fieldwork planning process. The assessment should cover all aspects of fieldwork, including any associated transport, travel and accommodation arrangements as well as the actual tasks that will make up the fieldwork.

The risk assessment should identify suitable and sufficient control measures to reduce significant fieldwork risks to a tolerable level. Where practical, control measures should meet the same standard as those provided for work on campus.

The Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA) and UCEA have produced detailed sector guidance identifying a range of hazards and risks that assessors might need to consider.

Vulnerable people

The risk assessment should also consider the people taking part, and take account of any mental or physical impairments that they may have. Where necessary, additional control measures may be required to ensure the safety of any vulnerable participants. Equally, organisers may need to identify and implement reasonable adjustments to enable all people to participate fully in the fieldwork.

Overseas travel

Where fieldwork involves overseas travel, organisers should consult and follow the international travel guidance issued by the Office of Policy, Planning and Compliance. This guidance includes advice on travel to countries where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against travel.


Risk assessments should consider foreseeable emergencies such as first aid emergencies. The risk assessment should also include provision for the University’s Procedure for responding to significant incidents overseas which may affect University of Bath students and staff. Fieldwork organisers should report all accidents via the online incident reporting system, as soon as is practical after they have occurred.


Organisers should consult the University’s insurance resources to ensure that adequate and appropriate insurance cover is in place prior to travelling.

Information, instruction and training

Field course leaders and participants have received appropriate training commensurate with their level of responsibility for the health and safety of participants to enable them to carry out appropriate dynamic risk assessment and control.

Organiser will brief all participants before and during the fieldwork on the findings of risk assessments and the control measures to be followed.

Responsibility for implementation

The following people will have responsibilities under this standard:

  • Heads of Department

  • Principal Investigators/Course Leaders

  • Academic Supervisors of students

Document control

Date of last review: The current Fieldwork Safety Standard (version 3) was reviewed and agreed at University Health and Safety Committee in March 2022.
Date of next review: End of March 2025.


If you have any questions, please contact us.