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Category Health and Safety
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor
Date Policy Took Effect 31 March 2020
Last approved revision 1 May 2020
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer
Responsible officer Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing


This aim of this policy is to provide a safe environment as required by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 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 risks and hazards associated with field activities and prevent these risks/hazards 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 risk management.   The University is generally supportive of fieldwork and off-campus activities where these contribute to learning or research and risk can be managed appropriately.

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.

The health and safety management of placements is outside the scope of this policy.  International travel for the purposes of attending conferences or meetings is also outside the scope of this policy.

Where relevant, this policy should be read alongside the Travel and Travel-related Costs Policy.


Fieldwork/off campus activities/field activities
For the purposes of this policy refers to teaching and research activities conducted off campus by University of Otago staff, students or contractors (excluding conferences, placements and visits to other universities).
Urban field activities
Teaching and/or research 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 conducted 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 conducted off campus more than 300 kms or 3 hours by road from medical support services, or where there is limited telephone communications relying on VHF, InReach Locator beacons or satellite phones. Remote areas include 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
Teaching and/or research activities conducted outside of New Zealand and outside of a usual place of work.  Risks may be associated with the tasks carried out and/or the location.
Home/community based field activities
Community based visits or visits to private homes or premises by students or staff for the purpose of teaching or research.
Duty of Care
A duty imposed by law to take reasonable care to minimise the risk of harm to another.
Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking as defined by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and associated regulations.


1. General Principles

  1. The University of Otago will, as far as reasonably practicable, take steps to provide a safe environment for staff, visitors and contractors in fieldwork and off campus work locations.
  2. The Fieldwork and Off Campus guidelines are the minimum standard for compliance.
  3. Staff and students are only permitted to bring children on field activities with the express permission from the relevant Head of Department. The Head of Department 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/off campus activity.

2. Responsibilities

  1. The University of Otago as a PCBU is responsible for:
    1. 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.
    2. Ensuring that the Officers of the University are held accountable for the following of the fieldwork policy and guidelines to meet the HASAW 2015 requirements.
  2. Senior Managers (Pro-Vice-Chancellors/Deans/Directors/COO/DVCs) have a duty of care to:
    1. Provide adequate resources for the division to meet the compliance requirements of the fieldwork/off campus policy and guidelines for department within their division.
    2. Authorise and approve fieldwork plans as appropriate when escalated by a Head of Department/Manager.
  3. Heads of Academic Departments, Research Centres, Heads of College and Heads/Managers/Directors of Service Divisions have a duty of care to:
    1. Provide adequate resources for compliance with the fieldwork policy and guidelines for their area of responsibility.
    2. Consider the occupational health and safety implications of proposed fieldwork activities at the planning stage.
    3. Review and consider all field activity plans prior to any field trip taking place.
    4. Escalate field activity plans to the relevant Senior Manager (see 2(b) above) for authorisation where the risks are considered significant.
    5. Monitor the effectiveness of compliance with the policy and guideline requirements.
    6. Ensure staff and students receive the appropriate information, instruction and training necessary, and adequate supervision, to safely perform their work or studies respectively.
    7. Ensure 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.
  4. Fieldwork Leaders / Activity Coordinators have a duty of care to:
    1. Identify and assess 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.
    2. Ensure 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 fieldwork commencing.
    3. Ensure that effective means of communication are maintained in the field for emergency response, and that for remote fieldwork that the fieldwork plan is lodged with Campus Watch to allow for emergency response.
    4. Ensure all staff, students and volunteers are instructed in safe and healthy working procedures, warned about particular hazards and advised how to avoid, eliminate or minimise risks of such hazards.
    5. Monitor the implementation of the safety plan in the field.
  5. Fieldwork participants are required to:
    1. Read any notices, attend any briefings and return any forms that are required to the Activity Coordinator.
    2. Seek instruction/clarification if they are unsure of anything they are required to do.
    3. Comply with instructions and directions issued by their supervisor and the fieldwork leader
    4. Report any unsafe conditions or hazards to the field leader.
    5. Be 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

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy, procedure or guideline or need further clarification, contact:

Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing

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