Field trips are any work, research, study or activity approved by a college/portfolio that is undertaken by staff and/or students off campus at an urban, rural, remote, freshwater or marine location.
A field trip does not include inter-campus travel, meetings off-site, attendance at conferences or journeys undertaken with the purpose of supervision of students on work integrated learning (WIL), work experience/ placements as part of their formal program of study or travel to or work at Australian university, state and federal government sites (i.e. museums) using their safe systems of work.
Under Work Health and Safety legislation, field work locations and the associated travel are defined as a workplace. Accordingly, field trip leaders, supervisors, staff, students and volunteers must meet their legal obligations for work health and safety during a field trip.
Further detailed field trip information can be found in the field trip safety manual.
Field trip online training
Information targeted at specific roles in the field trip process including field trip leaders, endorsers and approvers and participants is available as online training that provide videos, information and frequently asked questions. The training is via self enrolment and can be accessed at any time.
WHS responsibilities on field trips
Field trip leaders
Field trip leaders must
- ensure that adequate consideration has been given to any health and safety issue that may arise during a field trip.
- provide appropriate guidance and supervision, appropriate resources and prepare for any emergencies that may arise.
- ensure a risk assessment is carried out, that the trip is approved, participant and emergency information is provided.
A field trip leader is the person who has the authority to influence or direct the actions of students, staff members and volunteers involved in the field activity. This responsibility extends for the entire duration of the field trip including any free time.
Responsibilities of staff, students, other participants and volunteers
All persons undertaking field work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and take reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. This is a legal obligation under the Work Health and Safety legislation.
Please do not attend field trips if you are unwell and until your acute symptoms have cleared.
Field trip planning and approval process
All areas undertaking field work must have read the Field trip safety manual.
Field trips must be documented, risk assessed and approved via the Field trip process prior to undertaking the field trip.
Each field trip must have a nominated field trip leader who is responsible for ensuring appropriate guidance and supervision is maintained for the duration of the field trip.
Field trips are divided into two tiers, depending on the level of risk.
Tier 1 – low level risk – applies to field trip proposal responses for Tier 1 questions that reflect ease of access by emergency services, communication is readily available for the location and involves low risks activities and equipment.
Tier 2 – includes higher risk activities and applies (but not limited to);
- Rural, remote, interstate or overseas locations.
- Involves activities such as diving, boating, climbing, use of tools, animals etc
Field trip leaders need to ensure the required field trip information is completed, including
- itinerary (each destination should have location specific emergency contact information), checklists, vehicle, participant and volunteer information
- any relevant permits, licences or ethics approvals
- risk assessment form.
Risk assessment/ management
Field trip supervisors must ensure that risks, as far as reasonably practicable, are managed on the field trip. The field trip risk assessment must consider hazards associated with travel, emergency provisions, communication, accommodation and the specific tasks that will be undertaken.
For each field trip, field trip leaders must:
- identify the hazard
- assess the health and safety risk
- implement risk controls to eliminate or minimize the risks.
A field trip risk assessment form ( you must download this form first by right clicking and 'save as') must be completed for Tier 2 field trips, before the field trip begins. The risk assessment needs to be attached to the field trip record in the FlinSafe Field Trip system and be approved along with the rest of the field trip information.
Further guidance on the management of the following hazards is available from the following links:
University vehicles need to be booked prior to use on a field trip.
Emergency communication and response plans
Field trips often involve working in locations that isolate participants from ready access to the emergency services present in larger towns and cities. Mobile phone coverage cannot be assumed. Outside metropolitan areas communication devices such as satellite phones and SPOT Trackers are important tools to allow contact in the event of an emergency. It is recommended to read and understand the SPOT user information before commencing the field trip.
It is important to include local, destination specific emergency contact details in the field trip record in the FlinSafe / Field Trips system for each destination including contact name / organisation, address and contact phone details and local emergency contacts (i.e. accommodation, local hospital, local police and fire / emergency services) to assist in an emergency response.
The emergency response templates for medical and vehicle emergencies provide guidance on developing an emergency response plan for the field trip.
The bushfire risk needs to be considered as part of the field trip risk assessment process and particularly if there is catastrophic weather conditions or total fire ban days. Consideration must be given to managing the risks including postponing the field trip or not entering areas of high fire danger.
The current daily Fire Danger Rating is available for states and territories of Australia on http://www.bom.gov.au/?ref=hdr under the relevant state or territory link, under Forecasts.
For the fire service relating to each state and territory, please refer to the bushfire safety page.
A car is one of the deadliest places to be in a bushfire. The only sure way to survive is to be nowhere near the fire. Considerations when encountering a bushfire in a car can be found in the Field Trip Manual . This covers encountering smoke or flames, positioning your car, what to do when inside your car and when the firefront passes.
Other weather information
There may be other emergencies that may occur relating to marine / ocean warnings, cyclones, floods and tsunamis. These can be accessed for Australia under http://www.bom.gov.au/?ref=hdr, under Warnings.
All field trips must have as a minimum
- A first aid kit, with all contents in date.
- If Tier 2, the field trip must have someone with first aid training on the field trip.
- Where emergency services could be delayed (e.g. remote areas) a remote first aid kit must be carried and a person with remote first aid training needs to be on the field trip or available.
For more information on first aid requirements consult the field trip safety manual.
Reporting accidents/incidents on field trips
All accidents/incidents that occur as part of a field trip must be reported. Where the accident/incident is minor in nature and internet access is available, it should reported on FlinSafe. Where internet access is not available, the accident/incident should be recorded and reported to the injured person’s supervisor or the University contact, where possible within 24 hours.
Where the accident is serious, notifiable or there has been a death, University Security (contactable 24/7 – 8201 2880) or the WHS Unit must be notified immediately. Further details are available in the field trip safety manual.
Flinders University staff based in South Australia are covered by workers compensation under the provisions of the SA Return to Work Act 2014 for any injury sustained while working in the field, when the injury occurs in Australia. Staff based in other states/territories are covered by the relevant jurisdiction’s Workers Compensation legislation. Note: Workers compensation does not cover staff overseas.
For all other questions about insurance for staff please refer to the University staff insurance webpages.
For all other questions about insurance for students please refer to the University student insurance webpages.
More information about volunteers is found here.