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Offsite Safety

UTK Environmental Health & Safety Guide GS-006

This guide serves to assist those planning off-campus work to identify safety and health concerns for individuals or groups representing the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Effective Date: 02/01/2016
Revision Date: 08/24/2018

jump to appendices and forms


This guide serves to assist those planning off-campus work to identify safety and health concerns for individuals or groups representing the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Scope and Applicability

This document has been designed as a non-mandatory guide to assist individuals and groups who are traveling off campus and may encounter unexpected hazards. Fieldwork or offsite-work is an extraordinarily diverse area of consideration, however the same principles of safety one would use on campus apply.

  • Anticipate and identify hazards
  • Control hazards
    • Elimination
    • Substitution
    • Engineering Controls
    • Administrative Controls
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Prepare for and Mitigate the Consequences of Accidents

If you are addressing your fieldwork with the above concepts, informing and training your personnel, providing appropriate resources (such as PPE) and managing practices in the field to adhere to a safety plan then you are on the right track.

Although this is a guide, please note there are some sections of this document that may point to specific regulatory requirements. Where such a requirement may be present, such as excavations greater than four feet deep, they may be emphasized

Abbreviations and Definitions

Fieldwork: activities authorized by the University, conducted for the purpose of study, research, recreation, or teaching which are undertaken by faculty, staff, students, and authorized volunteers of the University at a location outside the geographical boundaries of the University campuses.

Remote Areas: Areas of the world, including the United States, that are generally uninhabited and are many miles from potable water, electricity, communication, businesses, residential, medical, and other services.

Roles and Responsibilities

Supervisors are encouraged to:

  • Use this document as a guide for individuals or groups who are traveling off-site from campus.
  • Consult with EHS if there are any questions relative to this guide.
  • Make suggestions for improving this guide.
  • Encourage student and employee questions, dialogue, and engagement with safety concepts related to field work.

Environmental Health and Safety shall:

  • Maintain this guide in the safety manual online.
  • Update the guide as necessary.
  • Interpret the intent of the procedure where the meaning may not be clear.
  • Assist departments and individuals to the extent feasible with hazard identification, training, and suggestions of appropriate controls.
  • Add appendices as needed.

Students and Employees shall:

  • Follow directions as specified.
  • Not engage in horseplay or other disruptive actions that could lead to an accident.
  • Ask questions if uncertain of directions or safety protocol.
  • Report hazards or near-misses that occur.
  • Report any accidents, damaged equipment/property or other losses to the supervisor.
  • Use personal protective equipment when necessary and as instructed.
  • Only undertake activities for which they are
    • Properly trained
    • Familiar or understand
    • Physically capable of performing

Guidance and Considerations

General Considerations for Advanced Planning

If you perform field work studies, you need to know and understand the potential hazards (common and unusual) presented by the area in which you will do field work. For example, there may be predatory animals (e.g., bears), venomous reptiles, amphibians, or toxic plants. You should ensure that you know what the precautions are for each potentially hazardous situation, and that you have received appropriate training to mitigate these situations. Accidents are always possible when working outdoors – cuts, sprains, falls, insect bites, sunburn, and dehydration are not uncommon. Consequently, it is vital that you follow the direction of your supervisor in the field at all times. Do not engage in horseplay.

Prepare a Safety Plan

Prepare a written Safety Plan of your trip. Provide a copy to each member of your team and leave a copy with a responsible party. Include the following:

Your information and itinerary

Locations, arrival and departure dates, names, addresses and phone numbers of all fieldwork participants.


General nature of activities being conducted

Possible Risks

Potentially hazardous plants, animals, terrain and weather conditions where you plan to work.


  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Engineering Controls
  • Administrative Controls
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Emergency Plans

Address the basics, safety and security, medical, fire, and weather. Then address specific plans for specific risks.

Contact person

Name and phone number of a person to contact in case of emergency- a spouse, parent or friend, as well as a campus contact.

Local contacts

Names of people at or near your fieldwork site who can reach you if necessary, as well as your check-in/check-out arrangements

Local Authorities

It is advisable to contact local authorities to alert them to your presence before performing work. Consider this from several perspectives.

  • If you require assistance, they will already have some awareness of your presence and activities and can render faster assistance.
  • It is respectful and professional
  • Unusual field activities may be seen by local residents as suspicious. Prevent causing alarm by respectful and professional contact with authorities. They may advise methods to prevent alarm.

Medical Care and First Aid

The following guidelines apply to all off-campus operations including field stations, academic field trips, field research, excursions, etc. that involve employees and students:

  • A first aid kit should be maintained at all times during the operation or exercise. First aid kits are highly recommended for all off-campus operations. Departments must purchase and maintain first aid kits including any special equipment or medication that is needed. Kits and refills may be ordered from safety supply companies. EHS can assist with identifying vendors.
  • At least one employee who is trained and certified in first aid and CPR should be present during operations.
  • At permanent university field stations, written arrangements should be made in advance with local facilities for emergency medical treatment. If you are working from a field station you should find out what the arrangements are for emergency care.

Job Related Injuries or Illnesses

If a university employee suffers a job-related injury or illness, he/she must notify his/her supervisor within 24 hours. The employee’s department/supervisor must complete the Report of Incident through UT Risk Management. If the injury is “serious” (amputation, permanent disfigurement, overnight hospital stay, fatality) notify your supervisor immediately. Furthermore, serious accidents must be reported to the UTK Safety Officer (EHS) immediately. International SOS can assist with emergency medical evacuation to the nearest hospital meeting international standards of care and repatriation of mortal remains.

International Considerations

If you are involved in international research, it is important to obtain your passport and visas well in advance of your travel. Ensure that you have appropriate health insurance coverage. Obtain any recommended vaccinations and make sure that you are aware of any health concerns and what food and water is safe to consume in the country and region of the country in which you will be working.

The dangers may also be human, as the area in which you work may be an area in which there has been past/present civil or political unrest. Check with the State Department so you know if there are any travel warnings or restrictions.


Appendix A (Offsite Safety Checklist) should be kept by the department until the trip is complete. The record (Appendix B: UTK Field Work Safety Planning Record) must be kept longer if there are any of the following.

  • Injuries
  • Damages or loss to equipment or property
  • Anticipated legal or regulatory actions

In these cases the length of retention shall be based on the nature of the event.

In addition, departments may consider keeping completed copies of Appendix B as reference for future similar trips.


OSHA General Industry Standards 29 CFR 1910.

See appendices. Several relevant references are noted within.


The information provided in these guidelines is designed for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville and the authors of these guidelines assume no liability for any individual’s use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein. The material contained in these guidelines may not be the most current.

This material may be freely distributed for nonprofit educational use. However, if included in publications, written or electronic, attributions must be made to the author. Commercial use of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author.


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