GUIDANCE NOTES FOR UNIVERSITY FIELD TRIPS

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1 GUIDANCE NOTES FOR UNIVERSITY FIELD TRIPS HEALTH & SAFETY UNIT SPRING TERM 2011

2 CONTENTS 1. DEFINITION OF FIELDWORK INSURANCE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS RISK ASSESSMENTS SUPERVISION HEALTH AND FIRST AID DISABLED PERSONS TRANSPORT CHECKLIST... 5

3 1. Definition of Fieldwork Fieldwork is defined as; any practical work carried out by staff or students of the university for the purpose of teaching and/or research in places which are not under the control of the university, but where the university is responsible for the safety of its staff and/or students and others exposed to their activities. The term fieldwork does not include either work experience or work placements. 2. Insurance It is essential that all members of staff and students involved in the fieldwork have arrangements and can help to provide additional cover where this is required. Heads of Department have the duty to ensure that appropriate insurance cover for all parties and all eventualities has been arranged prior to commencement of any trip. (Some field centres or commercial concerns may carry insurance which covers persons making field visits. Often, however disclaimers exist in these policies and it is therefore desirable to arrange appropriate cover through the university) 3. Legal Requirements Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Sections 2&3 the University must exercise a duty of care to employees and to those they supervise. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation 1992 Section 3 a suitable and sufficient Risk Assessment must be undertaken of the risk to health and safety of employees and to the health and safety of persons not in the University s employment who may be affected by their actions or omissions. 4. Risk Assessments During the planning stages of any field trip a thorough risk assessment must be carried out. The purpose of this is to identify the significant foreseeable hazard that may be associated with a trip so that the actual risk from these can then be minimised. The complexity of the assessment should reflect the level of risk. For routine trips which are undertaken locally, standard (generic) risk assessments may be made and recorded for each type of trip and each department. More distant visits or those which contain higher elements of risk must be assessed individually and details of the plans and risk assessments recorded. Many factors require to be considered when carrying out such risk assessments and include: the nature of the tasks, the location and 2

4 environment in which they are to be carried out, the experience and training of participants, the nature of any substances which may be used or encountered, the level of supervision which will be provided and the duration of the exercise. In addition a contingency plan should be prepared to cover any reasonably foreseeable emergencies. The Head of Department and expedition leader are responsible for planning the fieldwork, making appropriate risk assessments and ensuring that any training or equipment that is required by staff or students is provided. Following the risk assessment it may become clear that further competent staff may be required so that the field activity can be undertaken safely. 5. Supervision Members of staff who organise fieldwork are responsible to the Head of Department for ensuring that adequate safety arrangements exist and are followed by participants. It may be appropriate for organisers to appoint leaders who will act on their behalf in the field. It should be made clear to all parties at the outset who is in charge of the group in any given circumstance. Supervision rates in fieldwork courses will depend upon the type or work done. The UCEA guidance recommends for low risk work the minimum staff to student rate of 1:20 and in many cases a higher ratio of supervisors may be necessary. Postgraduate students can be counted as assistant supervisors on undergraduate courses. There must always be at least two supervisors, of which at least one must be a member of staff, with adequate, clear deputising arrangements. Risk assessments will identify activities, locations etc, which may require a higher staff to student ratio. 6. Health and First Aid Organisers of fieldwork expeditions and outdoor activities must give careful consideration to the health of participants and, where necessary, the advice of the occupational Health Department should be sought. Participants should be asked to make a declaration that they do not knowingly have a condition that could compromise their health and safety during the particular activities likely to take place during the trip. There may be some circumstances where, after consultation with the Occupational Health Department, persons with particular disabilities or conditions may have to be excluded from certain activities on health and safety grounds. Staff and students must not knowingly undertake activities that due to physical or psychological problems may put themselves or others at risk Depending on the risk assessment the number of qualified first aiders on the trip will need to be established. As a guide at least one member of staff 3

5 attending an out of town field trip must as a minimum standard hold an HSE approved first aid at work certification. Where possible other staff or students should have an elementary knowledge of first aid e.g. Appointed Persons as defined by the First Aid at Work Regulations. For visits within the European Union fieldworkers should carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC, available from the post office and healthcard.org) Prompt medical attention must be sought in the event of illness. Under field conditions, relatively trivial injuries may become serious if not treated quickly. Expedition leaders should be alert for signs of illness, injury or fatigue within the party. If access to normal means of communication is not available then the expedition leader must have access to an alternative means of communication. For visits outside the European Community it is strongly recommended that the advice of the Occupational Health Department be sought. Accidents and Emergency s For each group the expedition leader will be responsible for organising emergency procedures and ensuring that all members of the group are aware of the arrangements. If an accident or an emergency does occur there should be a clear plan of action to deal with the situation (as identified in the risk assessment). As some incident have to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive, it is essential that all accidents and dangerous occurrences are reported to the Health and Safety Unit promptly (same day) so that follow up actions can be taken if required. 7. Disabled Persons Every effort should be made to ensure that disabled persons have access to fieldwork activities and are able to participate fully in them. This may include special safety arrangements that should be identified during the risk assessment. 8. Transport If the transport means are supplied by the university all staff members who undertake driving must have undertaken a MIDAS minibus driver s awareness course and have a valid MIDAS certificate. It is the responsibility of the person leading the fieldwork to ensure that all staff students and others wear seat belts. 4

6 If any other forms of transport are to be used during the field trip, appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that all health and safety aspects of the travel are adequate. 9. Checklist i. Risk Assessments ii. iii. iv. Medical insurance First Aiders First Aid Kit v. EHI card (if travelling abroad) vi. vii. viii. ix. Vaccinations (where required) Driving Licence EU Driving Licence (if travelling outside the UK) Communication Method x. University Contacts xi. Details of Participants on the Trip 5

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