Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Field and Off Campus Activities Policy

Category Health and Safety
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor, 24 November 2014
Date Policy Took Effect 24 November 2014
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer
Responsible Officer Head, Health and Safety Compliance
Review Date 24 November 2016


The aim of this policy is to provide a safe environment for teaching and research activities conducted ‘in the field’ and off campus locations. The principle aim is to, as far as reasonably practical, identify the hazards and risks associated with field activities and prevent these hazard/risks from causing harm to any field activity staff member, participant, member of the public, or contractor. It is recognised that the best prevention strategy is through planning, preparation, knowledge and management of the hazards.

Organisational Scope

This policy, and the associated guidelines, relate to teaching and research activities conducted off campus. It is applicable to all staff, students, visitors and volunteers who are involved in any University activity, which meets the definition of urban, rural, remote, international or home/community based field activity.


Fieldwork/off campus activities/field activities: For the purposes of this policy fieldwork, off campus activities or field activities refers to any work or activities carried out by staff or students for the purposes of teaching, research or organised activities while representing the University of Otago. This includes field activities that are undertaken with staff and students organised by any University department, including colleges, Unipol, etc.
Urban field activities: Field trips and activities conducted in a public setting, within an urban area where standard public emergency services are available.
Rural field activities: Teaching and/or research activities off campus more than 80kms, or one hour by road, from a frequently used road, or a hospital with a 24 hour emergency department.
Remote field activities: Teaching and/or research activities off campus more than 300 kms or 3 hours by road form medical support services, or where there is limited telephone communications relying on VHF or satellite phones, off road areas including estuarine and oceanic location where it would be difficult to summons assistance in an emergency, or where it takes more than one hour on foot to reach medical or emergency support.
International field activities: Includes University related study and/or research activities conducted outside of New Zealand that is outside of a usual place of work. Where international travel is to low risk destinations (as defined by International SOS and/or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) for meetings, conferences, visits or collaborative work with other institutions, a full risk management plan is not required. The process of arranging travel to such areas through the required Financial Services Divisional Travel policy is sufficient for these low risk areas. Travel to all other destinations must include assessment of health and security risks as a part of the planning process, and documented in a risk management plan.

Policy Content

1. Policy Statement:
a) The University of Otago will, as far as reasonably practicable, take steps to provide a safe environment for staff and students in fieldwork locations. This policy and associated guidelines provide guidance to manage the risks and hazards associate with fieldwork activities.
b) Staff and students are only permitted to bring children on field activities with the express permission from the HOD. The HOD must authorise a plan that satisfactorily meets the requirements of adequate supervision and safety of the child and be satisfied that emergency management and field activities will not be compromised by the child being present during the field activity.

2. Responsibilities:
2.1 The University of Otago as an employer is responsible for:
a) The provision of resources to enable the University of Otago to meet all of its obligations in the area of health and safety management in fieldwork and work conducted off campus.
b) Ensuring that senior management (PVCs, DVCs,Deans, Directors) are held accountable for the following of the field work policy and guidelines to meet the health and safety requirements.

2.2 Senior Managers (Pro-Vice Chancellors/Deans/Directors/ COO/DVCs) are responsible for:
a) Providing adequate resources for the division to meet the compliance requirements of the fieldwork policy and guidelines for department within their division involved in fieldwork.
b) The authorisation and approval of fieldwork plans when escalated by a HOD/Manager.

2.3 Heads of Academic Departments, research Centres, and Heads/Managers/Directors of Service Divisions are responsible for:
a) Providing adequate resources for compliance with the fieldwork policy and guidelines for their area of responsibility;
b) The consideration of occupational health and safety implications of a proposed field work activity at the planning stages;
c) Reviewing and considering all field activity plans prior to any field trip taking place;
d) Escalating field activity plans to the PVC/Director for authorisation where the risks are considered significant;
e) Monitoring the effectiveness of compliance with the policy and guideline requirements.
f) Ensuring staff and students to receive the appropriate information, instruction and training necessary and adequate supervision to safety perform their work or studies respectively;
g) Ensuring that their department has a planned programme of identification, assessment, and control of hazards and risks, and that field activities met the legislative requirements and policy objectives.
h) Ensuring that appropriate staff licenses and permits are applicable for the trip have been obtained and held on record.

2.4 Fieldwork Leaders/Activity Coordinators are responsible for:
a) Identifying and assessing the hazards/risks associated with the proposed fieldwork activity at the planning stage and that appropriate control measures are put in place to eliminate or minimise such hazards/risks;
b) Ensuring a documented field safety/risk management plan is completed for each field trip and submitted to the HOD/Manager/Director for authorisation prior to the field work commencing;
c) Ensuring all staff, students and volunteers are instructed in safe and healthy working procedures, warned about particular hazards and advised how to avoid, eliminate, isolate or minimise risks of such hazards;
d) Monitoring the implementation of the safety plan in the field.

2.5 Fieldwork participants are responsible for:
a) Reading any notices, attending any briefings and returning any forms that are required to the Activity Coordinator;
b) Seeking instruction if they are unsure of anything they are required to do;
c) Complying with instructions and directions issued by their supervisor and the field work leader;
d) Reporting any unsafe conditions or hazards to the field leader;
e) Being familiar with emergency and evacuation procedures and the location of first aid kits, personnel and emergency equipment and if appropriate, trained to use the emergency equipment.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Health and Safety Policy

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact Andrea McMillan, Head, H&S Compliance.