5. Personal safety considerations

5. Personal safety considerations

5.1 First aid policy

First aid requirements should be assessed prior to the trip to determine the number and level of training required of first aid personnel present on a fieldtrip.

For all fieldwork activities it is a requirement to have at least one first aid trained personnel on the trip, unless otherwise approved by the relevant fieldwork manager based on the risk assessment of the trip. For undergraduate or postgraduate coursework field trips, it is within the duty of care of the university that these personnel are staff members in a supervisory capacity. While participating students may choose to provide a first aid response in the case of an incident they should not be made responsible for first aid equipment or counted in the following ratios.

First aid training must be through an Australian recognised training organisation and the issued certification must display the nationally recognised training logo plus course code and name.

The following is a guide only and will vary based on the risk assessment of the field site and activities involved:

  • Groups up to 10 people - 1 person trained in Provide First Aid (HLTAID003) or higher certification
  • Groups of 11 to 30 - 2 persons trained in Provide First Aid (HLTAID003) or higher certification
  • Groups of 31 to 60 - 3 persons trained in Provide First Aid (HLTAID003) or higher certification, plus an extra trained person for every additional 10 people above 60

Provide First Aid in Remote Situations (HLTAID005) training and/ or Provide Advanced Resuscitation (HLTAID007) courses are recommended for all trip leaders and their support staff working in remote non-metropolitan locations and a requirement of fieldwork in aquatic environments. Please refer to the University Dive Officer (diveofficer@mq.edu.au) for further information.

Whenever practicable, first aid trained personnel should be positioned evenly throughout the field party and carry the required first aid kit to provide immediate care if required. Correct size and number of first aid kits for the field trip will be provided by the relevant fieldwork manager. First Aid kits will include items necessary and as identified in the planning and risk assessment stage.

Personnel are responsible for renewing first aid and CPR certifications.All qualifications, including renewals must be uploaded in Field Friendly.

A certain number of first aid courses are available to staff and students of Macquarie University via Risk and Assurance. If these become unavailable and training is needed, it may need to be completed at a cost to the individual or department.

5.2 Medical status of fieldwork participants

Any person with a medical condition that may affect or be exacerbated by the activities undertaken on a field trip must disclose this information in the participant sign up in Field Friendly. It is additionally recommended to discuss the matter in confidence with the fieldtrip leader. This is to be made available to the first aiders and emergency services if required but otherwise remains confidential. Any field trip participant with an emergency management plan issued by a medical professional (e.g. asthma management plan) will be required to upload this plan to their individual medical disclosure during the Trip sign up stage in Field Friendly. This allows for the Trip Leader to provide the best care possible with all required information in the case of an incident to maintain the health and safety of the individual and the field party.

Refer to Disclosing a Known Medical Condition Procedure for further guidance.

Individual participants must carry their own adequate supplies of any prescribed medication(s) (including epi-pen) required for the duration of the field activity (and a few extra days’ supply in case of emergencies) and are the sole responsibility of the participant. Participants must disclose the location of their medications(s) in the case that they be incapacitated and require this medication as treatment.

Participants must be informed if there is a risk of exposure to venomous animals, insects that can spread diseases, such as Ross River, and plants likely to cause allergic reactions. The controls to minimise risk in these circumstances include wearing appropriate clothing, apply insect repellent and carry antihistamine drugs.

Snorkelling, freediving and swimming can be a strenuous activity. See the marine fieldwork information for guidelines and details about assessment and requirements

5.3 Navigation and communication

Effective risk assessment  requires consideration of navigation and communication requirements for safe and efficient work in the field and for pre-bookings to be made through the fieldwork manager.

In order to determine the navigation and communication equipment requirements the availability of the following should be considered:

  • Detailed maps
  • GPS and terrain/ connection restrictions
  • Location of landline phones
  • Mobile phone coverage (Telstra preferred- check with provider)
  • Satellite phone
  • UHF 2-way radios
  • Local knowledge

Vessels are equipped with a chart plotter/GPS and a back up GPS is carried on board. It is recommended that charts of an area should be carried particularly if in unfamiliar territory.

When operating in open waters the master should log on and off with Marine Rescue VHF channel 16 (‘Distress, Safety and Calling’ Channel) or call Marine Rescue NSW on 94502468. Call back system is in place.

The department has the following equipment for use which should be booked in advance with the fieldwork manager to ensure availability:

  • Satellite phones*
  • GPS**
  • PLBs*
  • UHF handheld radios (2W and 5W depending on range needs)

* Satellite phone, PLB and EPIRB require induction from fieldwork manager for correct use.

**GPS are available for safety use only not for recording research data. For this purpose devices should be purchased as required within research group expenditures.

Communication must be kept regular between all members of the fieldwork team as well as between the fieldtrip leader and the designated call back person. Call backs must be made daily at or before the time nominated and documented in the Field Friendly trip plan.

5.4 Local area contacts

The fieldtrip team leader must contact local land holders, national parks, state forests, catchment or local company/ government personnel when visiting a site that requires authority permission. There may be site-specific inductions to complete and specific safety protocols to follow. Permission must also be sought to access indigenous land. Research and collection permits should be applied for well in advance of field work.

Local land holders and NPWS contacts should be noted in the Field Friendly Trip plan and details carried in the field as they are useful to contact in case of emergency and also for pre-trip checks of land/ fire/ hunting activity/ weather conditions that may restrict access. In remote areas local land managers and duty officers should be aware of your activities and personnel as they may be required to guide emergency personnel to your location so provision of your risk assessment is recommended.

In remote terrestrial locations where serviced, the Royal Flying Doctor contact details must be recorded in the Trip plan and carried in the field.

For marine fieldwork the Coastguard, local area Surf Life Saving Clubs, Water Police authorities and Maritime Rescue NSW can be considered as local area contacts.

5.5 Personal protective clothing and equipment

The fieldtrip leader must ensure that in planning the fieldwork they identify all the PPE that is required for the fieldtrip and ensure that it is clean, functioning and available for use. The leader must communicate to the field trip participants these requirements and only allow field activities once safety gear is in use. (E.g. safety glasses, hats, gloves, overalls or gaiters etc.).

It is the responsibility of individual participants to ensure that adequate protection from light, cold, heat and adverse weather is carried and used. This includes:

  • Hat, sunglasses, lip screen and sun screen, for protection against ultra violet radiation;
  • Waders (personal or supplied) should have a boot-like sole pattern, or wetsuit for aquatic field activities.
  • Rain/windproof jacket where appropriate. A change of dry clothing should be made available if a person is likely to become wet;
  • Life jackets for boating. When operating in open waters life jackets are to be worn or when operating a stationary vessel and leaning over the side;
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) for working along wave affected rock platforms and shorelines as well as wading in still waters greater than waist deep.


Bare feet, thongs and sandals are not permitted on fieldtrips. The minimum footwear appropriate for a range of situations would be:

  • For immersion in water – reef shoes, thick-soled sport shoes (e.g. runners) or wet-suit boots;
  • For wet conditions – gumboots with tread soles or boots;
  • For some remote area work (e.g. uneven rocky outcrops, mines, quarries)– solid walking boots which may include steel-capped toes;
  • For other situations – thick-soled sports shoes as a minimum.


Long sleeves and trousers should be worn when there is a risk of abrasion, being scratched from low-lying shrubbery, snake bite, insect bite or sunburn. In circumstances where the presence of snakes is obvious, wearing gaiters may be required, particularly where field trip personnel arrive ill prepared. Safety clothing with inbuilt insect repellent is widely available and particularly useful where working in tick infested areas

In cold, wet and windy conditions, cotton clothing may not provide sufficient protection to maintain body warmth, particularly when wet. Wool is recommended, together with thermal under garments to prevent hypothermia.

Appropriate length and thickness wetsuits are to be worn for snorkelling, freediving or compressed air diving activities.

Specialised safety equipment

The wearing of specialised safety equipment will be required in many fieldwork situations. Examples are as follows:

  • Safety vests – brightly coloured vests with reflective surfaces should be worn in all situations when visibility is a safety issue (e.g., anywhere near roads or traffic, or moving machinery), regardless of ambient light conditions
  • Hard hats – should be worn in all situations where risk of head injury is present (e.g. falling objects, low headroom, construction sites).
  • Safety glasses or goggles – should be worn whenever there is a risk of eye injury
  • Hearing protection – should be used whenever there is a risk of noise-related injury
  • Respiratory protection – should be used where the risk assessment establishes an identified need
  • Life Jackets or Personal Flotation Devices

Safety equipment should be:

  • of approved design (i.e., meets Australian Standards as a minimum);
  • of suitable quality for the conditions to be encountered in the field;
  • inspected and maintained regularly

5.6 Food and water provisions

Food and water provisions should be suitable for the conditions and duration of the fieldtrip and should include adequate supplies in case of emergency stranding or extended duration. Dietary requirements, cultural requirements and food allergies must be considered and so must be discussed with all field trip personnel prior to leaving and disclosed during the participant sign up in Field Friendly. Food provisions should be organised well in advance.

5.7 International fieldwork

All information in this manual is applicable to both domestic and international fieldwork, however additional risk assessments may need to be submitted for approval by the Risk and Assurance team depending on the location of travel. The risk rating of the country of travel should be assessed using Smarttraveller to determine if you are travelling to a 'high risk country' (DFAT level 2 or above).

See the university travel information page for more details and procedures

Resources at International SOS can assist with risk assessment completion. please contact your Department administrators or relevant fieldwork manager for the university membership number.

5.8 Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any work vehicle or workplace, including a fieldwork site or camp site. Smoking is strictly prohibited in National Parks. If required, a smoking area may be established 10 meters from the camp site.

5.9  Drugs and alcohol

Field trip participants are reminded that the University’s Drug and Alcohol policy applies at all times and must be aware of the policy and the requirements therein.

The use or carriage of illicit drugs is not permitted under any circumstance. The University will commence disciplinary proceedings against any person who is found to be in possession of or under the influence of illicit drugs.

The intent of the policy is not to curtail responsible use of Alcohol – however given the inherent dangers of fieldwork, participants need to be mindful of the risks associated with drinking and the area they are in.

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