3. Supervision

3. Supervision

3.1 Supervision of undergraduate/postgraduate coursework student groups

When planning undergraduate or postgraduate coursework fieldwork the fieldwork team leader should determine an appropriate staff/student ratio. The ratio will depend on the type of activities being undertaken, location and the risk assessment for the activity and should follow these guidelines:

  • Generally the ratio of 1:10 is suitable for most situations. This is inclusive of terrestrial and marine fieldwork up to chest-deep water.
  • For water over chest-deep and snorkel activity ratios please refer to the Snorkelling operations manual.
  • In higher risk situations, more remote areas or if requested by the fieldwork manager, a higher staff to student ratio should be employed. This is usually 1:8 or 1:6 depending on the risk assessment or as requested by the fieldwork manager.
  • For higher risk snorkel/ free dive activities please refer to the Snorkelling operations manual.

Staff in charge of the activity should provide students with a safety briefing before commencing fieldwork to make students aware of foreseeable hazards and risks associated with the field tasks. The briefing should be conducted in a way that participating students and staff appreciate the need to follow the correct safety procedures and reference can be made to the Field Friendly field trip pack that is generated upon approval of fieldwork. This pack contains the hazard identification and risk assessment  that the Trip leader relates to that fieldwork. The briefing may vary slightly if additional hazards, unforeseen conditions are noted on site.

In the case that where students make their own way to a field site, the fieldwork team leader along with the assisting staff are responsible for maintaining a sign on/off sheet with student contact numbers and transport details. Students should sign upon arrival and departure and contact the responsible staff member  upon arrival at their destination.

We suggest the field trip leader or class technician should use the excel spreadsheet of information created by the Field Friendly roster as a sign on/off sheet. It can be edited to only contain the information required to retain privacy and confidentiality.

3.2 Supervision of postgraduate research students

Academic supervisors should provide a supervising and mentoring relationship to the student in the field environment until such time that the supervisor is satisfied that the student can manage themselves and their team safely in the field. A fieldwork manager can ask to accompany a field trip in an safety and procedure assessment capacity if they are concerned about the student and field group involved.

3.3 Approval to work alone

When undertaking fieldwork, persons should avoid working alone. If an incident occurs and there are two (or more) persons present, one person may then be available to attend to the victim while the other is available to notify emergency services.

While Macquarie University does not encourage field trip leaders to work alone, considerations will be given if the following criteria are met:

a. The location, travel and nature of the fieldwork demonstrates minimal risk; such as a local park, close to home, short site visits, reconnaissance for site selection.

b. The trip leader has demonstrated adequate qualifications and life experience to be able to perform the intended task, including driving skills.

c. The trip leader has provided a detailed trip itinerary, with daily (or more frequent) call back plans in place. Use of local authorities near field sites is encouraged (e.g. NPWS Duty Officers).

d. Adequate communication equipment is carried, including a personal locator beacon if required. If local mobile network coverage is not adequate, satellite communication must be carried.

3.4 Fieldwork at or with another institution or organisation/conference-related fieldwork

Often MQ personnel participate in fieldwork conducted in collaboration with other universities, research organisations or supervisors or as part of conferences.In this case it is the other institution or organisation who are doing all logistical planning, field work preparation, work, health and safety management and risk assessment.

Before participating in such fieldwork the Macquarie University affiliated participant should determine and seek written confirmation of who the insuring organisation will be in the case of an incident.

If this is to be Macquarie University, the fieldwork must be registered through Field Friendly via the 'Fieldwork with another institution' option. As part of their duty of care, the approving fieldwork manager may ask for verification of risk assessments or safe work practices from the other institution to ensure the safety of the MQ personnel during their field participation is being properly considered and managed.

During such fieldwork, the MQ personnel must abide by all protocols and safety procedures as outlined by the organising institution and still report all accidents or incidents as per 2.10 Incidents

It is understood that fieldwork collaborations vary. Please consult with the relevant fieldwork manager regarding the situation for further clarification.

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