Stanford University

Field Safety Plan

Last updated: August 25, 2022
Tool TypeForm

A field safety plan serves as a tool to document the hazard assessment, communication plan, emergency procedures, and training for staff, researchers, or students planning to engage in field activities. This plan is intended to identify hazards, as well as precautions and actions taken to address and mitigate those hazards. It also acts as a reference document for the team in the case of an emergency.

Start developing a safety plan early in the field activity planning process to allow time to gather information, identify safety controls needed, and complete necessary training. The EH&S Field Safety team is available for consultation throughout the development of this plan. EH&S can also assist in conducting a risk assessment of potential hazards, identification of necessary safety equipment, training, and/or approvals, and coordination with Occupational Health Center for medical surveillance considerations.

Field Safety Plan Template

Download the template as a Microsoft Word Document, or make a copy for editing in Google Docs.


What types of activities constitute fieldwork?

Field research, field studies, or fieldwork is the conducting of off-campus activities outside a laboratory, library, or office setting in urban or natural environments.

Fieldwork may include but is not limited to the following activities:

  • Day trips or extended stays
  • Domestic or international trips
  • Field trips for academic courses
  • Student organization activities including off-campus events or competitions (Activities such as off-campus gatherings at private residences or off-campus parties are not included; a rock-climbing trip to Yosemite or kayaking in Monterey Bay may be included.)
  • Work at Jasper Ridge and Hopkins Marine Station is considered fieldwork if the work is conducted outside of a laboratory, library or office.


What types of activities are not considered fieldwork?

Work at other universities and laboratories (excluding field stations), conference travel, library/archives work, or office work are not considered fieldwork.


Is a Field Safety Plan required for my activities?

Developing and using a field safety plan is part of the Cal/OSHA requirement for an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP) when conducting activities in the field (see above). For work performed at field stations or nature reserves, established site procedures may be available, but should be supplemented with a field safety plan for potential risks specific to the research or tasks.


How do I create a field safety plan?

EH&S has resources to assist in the creation of a field safety plan, including this template. Download the template as a Microsoft Word Document, or make a copy for editing in Google Docs.

The Field Safety Team is available to consult, review plans, offer suggestions, and/or identify specific training needed. Please contact us at for support.


Can the Principle Investigator, faculty advisor, or supervisor delegate the creation of the field safety plan to a researcher or staff member in our group?

Yes. The creation of the plan may be delegated to members of the group or research team. However, the faculty or supervisor is responsible for its review, approval, and implementation.


What approvals, reviews, and recordkeeping are required with my Field Safety Plan?

The PI, supervisor, or faculty advisor must sign-off on the plan. Review the Field Safety Plan with all trip participants. Carry a copy while conducting field activities (a paper copy may be appropriate if emergency internet and/or battery power may be unreliable).

Each of the emergency contacts must have a copy and be familiar with the plan. This includes someone at Stanford who is not on the trip (could be the PI/supervisor, and/or other Department representative who can assist in the case of an emergency).


How often must I update my field safety plan?

The field safety plan must be updated whenever materials, processes, procedures, equipment or conditions change that represent a new safety and/or health hazard. The plan must also be updated anytime locations or participants change.


What should I do if my activities involve multiple sites and/or environments?

Evaluate and include in the field safety plan the risks and hazards for each type of site/environment. Site descriptions, local contacts, access information and evacuation plans should be location specific.


What actions are required for the PI/Supervisor and participants in preparation for our field activities?

  • Medical Surveillance: Obtain immunizations and prophylaxis for the destination(s), if applicable. Schedule with the Occupational Health Center 4-6 weeks prior to departure.
  • Safety Trainings: Complete appropriate training for the site(s) and operations (e.g. first aid, heat illness, task-specific training).
  • Pre-Trip Group Meeting and Verification of Required Tasks: Hold a pre-trip meeting with the group and/or supervisor to review the field safety plan (document this meeting in the table at the end of the Field Safety Plan Template). Faculty or Supervisors must verify that all participants have completed their safety training and applicable medical surveillance. They must also check travel logistics, packing lists (including first aid kit), and personal safety and security concerns.*
    * Personal safety risks should be considered and discussed in advance, e.g., alcohol or drug use, leaving the group, situational awareness, sexual harassment, or local crime/security concerns. Review expectations and set the tone for a safe, successful trip.


Are there additional resources available to help with pre-trip planning?

  • Risk Assessment Tool: Conduct a Risk Assessment to systematically identify hazards and mitigation strategies to reduce risk of injuries and incidents.
  • Equipment Loan Program: EH&S has select safety equipment available for loan to those conducting fieldwork. This includes Garmin InReach communication devices for work in areas without reliable cell service. Email for more information on this program
  • Consultation with Global Risk Management: Notify Global Risk Management of international travel plans. Global Risk Management can advise on issues of safety and security, medical, security and travel risk assessment, assistance during an emergency and travel alerts and updates.
  • International Travel Registration: Register international travel at International SOS MyTrips.
  • Employment of Local Labor: Contact Global Business Services if local labor will be utilized. They can provide assistance regarding local practices related to taxes, legal, financial and HR considerations.
  • Vehicle Insurance: Review the Vehicle Use and Accident Reporting Policy if vehicles will be used. Please note, coverage differs for University staff versus students.
  • International Approvals: Check with Global Risk Management regarding required approvals. Visas, permits, finances, import/export controls, transportation of specialized equipment and field samples, and data security must be considered.
  • Book with Stanford Travel: Students, faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars booking air fare, hotels, or rental cars for university-sponsored travel must utilize a Stanford Travel booking channel in order to ensure reimbursement.
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