Frequently Asked Questions

Click a question to reveal the answer.

A suite of documents which sit alongside the University Health and Safety Policy and provide detailed information on what you need to do to meet both legal and University requirements for different health and safety topics (e.g. fire safety, biological substances, fieldwork etc).

  • Standard – specifies what the University expects to be in place for Fieldwork. Each bulletpoint is a ‘must happen’ and everyone needs to play their part in ensuring these requirements are met . Heads of School/ Service will set up systems and appoint staff into specific roles to make sure they happen; everyone else needs to carry out tasks and instructions to fulfil them. 
  • Training Matrix – In order to support people and ensure that they are provided with the key training and health and safety competency to fulfils their roles, most Standards including Fieldwork list a connected Training Matrix which identifies the minimum training  / level of competency required for that topic. As this matrix forms part of the Standard it must be achieved. 
  • Procedure on travel against FCO advice - sets out the process which MUST be followed if you plan to carry out a fieldwork activity to an area where the FCO advises against either ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’. This Procedure must also be followed if you are already on fieldwork in an area when the FCO advice changes to advise against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’ whilst you are there.
  • Guidance on the Procedure for travel against FCO advice – information to help you follow the Procedure. If you need more support, contact your Health and Safety Manager.
  • Fieldwork Assessment form – high/ medium/ low risk – this form MUST be completed and approved before fieldwork is undertaken.  Ask your Health and Safety Manager for advice if you are not sure which form to complete.
  • Step-by-step Guidance to the Fieldwork assessment form – high/ medium/ low/ social research – information to help you complete the Fieldwork assessment form; for more advice or support ask your Health and Safety Manager.
  • Head of School / Service Guidance – provides one way of implementing a system that will achieve the requirements of the Standard.  The HoSS (with your Health and Safety Manager) will decide if this (or another system) suits the needs of each school/ service most effectively.  So long as the Standard is achieved there is usually flexibility in the way that it can be achieved. However there are occasions where a more prescriptive approach is required and these are detailed in the Standard in the form of a Procedure or Tables; as these are listed in the Standard, they are also a ‘must happen’.  For this protocol on Fieldwork, a Procedure (on Travel against FCO advice) is used to specify the more detailed requirements.
  • Guidance on accommodation, catering, transport, equipment,  emergency and contingency planning, health and medical issues, first aid and vaccinations – information to help with your planning.   


  • Head of School/ Service – discuss the protocol (particularly the Standard, HoSS Guidance, Procedure and Training matrix) with your Health and Safety Manager to make sure you have a system in place to fulfil the Standard.  Appoint people to fulfil any identified roles and provide them with training in line with the Training matrix.
  • All other staff and students - make yourself aware of and follow the arrangements / instructions/ processes that have been put in place in your school / service  - ask your Health and Safety Manager or Coordinator if you need more information or support.


We suggest you choose the most relevant one of the three example fieldwork assessment forms – low, medium and high risk.  The detail and complexity of your fieldwork assessment should reflect the level of risk associated with your planned activity, the people, activities and location involved. 

For example you would use the high risk assessment form to assess the activity when taking students on a trip rock climbing in Afghanistan; however to take students by train to see a matinee performance in Manchester you would use the low risk form.  Each form has associated guidance to help you complete it.  

All participants should have insurance to adequately cover the fieldwork (travel, activity, medical, repatriation etc). If anyone extends the trip to include a holiday this also should be covered.  Further information is available at the University insurance pages.

Generally the line manager (who could also be the Fieldwork Activity Organiser) will need to approve the Fieldwork Assessment. However dependent on your local procedures (or if the fieldwork is considered high risk), the Head of School / Service may wish to approve it. Where travel is contrary to FCO advice the  University travel against FCO advice Procedure must be followed.

Some key items you could consider including in the pre-departure briefing include:

Specialist training needs – depending on the fieldwork you may wish to provide training in specific areas for example self-defence, cultural sensitivity, first aid, swimming.

Details from the Fieldwork Assessment such as:
  • Itinerary of the trip
  • Hazards and control measures identified in the Fieldwork Assessment
  • Contingency and emergency plans – what to do in an emergency and relevant contact details
  •  Advice – when travelling overseas. This also highlights any potential increased risk, often in the form of military or political unrest.
  • Dress and behaviour – you may wish to brief participants on any cultural sensitivity around the fieldwork activities and the area they are visiting.
  • Health hazards and issues – also control measures.
  • Health hazards associated with the fieldwork activity or travel to certain countries.
  • Hazards associated with food, drink, hygiene, climate related illnesses e.g. dehydration, mountain sickness.
  • Advice on preventative medical treatment (e.g. vaccinations, malarial prophylaxis), any further training that might be required and availability of medical facilities whilst in the field.

Depending on the nature of the fieldwork, you should check whether you will need any specific agreements to carry out the fieldwork – including international, cultural, environmental, health-related or behavioural permissions.

Visas - check the visa requirements for any countries you will visit, along with arrangements such as registering with the embassy or local authorities.

Dress and behaviour – you may wish to brief participants on any cultural sensitivity around the fieldwork activities and the area they are visiting.

Environmental permissions- you should ensure access to your chosen site is legal, and seek permission from the relevant owner or organisation.  If your work occurs in open countryside in the UK, work on sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) should be approved by the site owner and appropriate authorities. Overseas work should also be approved by that country’s relevant bodies/ authorities. Areas that may require specific permissions include:

  • Sites of historical importance - Heritage sites, National Trust properties etc.
  • Sites of ecological importance –national parks, nature reserves, SSSIs.
  • Politically or economically sensitive areas.
  • Near military sites, generating stations or important communications centres.
  • Sites where the work may disturb an endangered species of plant or animal.
  • Privately owned urban spaces such as shopping centres.