Field Research Safety Planning Requirements

Field Research Plans

Principal Investigators are required to fill out and submit a field research safety plan before beginning travel for field research to any location more than 100 miles from UC San Diego, or to any remote site where communications or access to emergency services are limited. PI's who do not submit a completed field research safety plan in advance may not be able to get travel reimbursements processed afterwards.

 One of the following forms must be completed and submitted to your MSO before beginning any field research travel:

-If a site/facility is visited multiple times, only one Field Research Safety Plan per fiscal year is required. 

-See the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about field research safety plan requirements.


Completing a field research safety plan and making sure all team members are registered for UC's Traveler Insurance Program reduces liability risk and facilitates emergency response and treatment for injuries that may occur while on travel. 

  • Filling out the field research safety plan prompts one to think through the potential risks of a trip and share that information with the entire team before departing to avoid any surprises. 
  • Although some risks may not be clear or predictable at the planning stage, and new risks may arise while in the field, you can dramatically reduce negative outcomes with thoughtful advance planning. 
  • Courts generally use the “reasonable” test to decide what is expected of US citizens, so think "reasonable" when contemplating what to include in these plans. 
  • Failure to complete a field research safety plan puts everyone at higher risk.

Satellite Phones: Anyone planning field research in remote locations where cell phone coverage is not available is strongly encouraged to have a satellite phone, which can be rented for less than $50 per month plus the cost of a service plan.  These are available from various providers, and the following Chart provides a summary of some recommended options as well as vendor information.   In most cases, the grant paying for field research activity can cover this type of expense with no problem.  If your need is very short term (1-2 days), you may be able to borrow an institutionally-owned satellite phone or tracking device on a recharge basis.  Please contact Christian McDonald, who manages use of these devices for small boating operations and other specialized needs.

Sexual Harassment: Preventing and responding to sexual harassment and sexual violence is one of UC San Diego’s top priorities. According to an article in Nature magazine, the field research environment can present unique challenges in addressing this issue. Employees should be reminded that rules and expectations for conduct in the field are no different than in the workplace. UC San Diego provides resources and support to any concerned person on how to get and give help, how to report an incident, and the responsibilities of the UCSD community. For more information, visit the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response website.  

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Shipping Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods

UC San Diego conforms to strict government regulations when transporting hazardous materials.  Shipments must arrive at their destinations in good condition and present no hazards during shipment. 

What’s a hazardous material? A substance capable of posing risk to health, safety, or to property when transported, which includes (but not limited to):

  • battery powered equipment
  • contents of first aid kits
  • flammable substances
  • aerosols and adhesives
  • inflatable lifesaving devices

Pay attention to even seemingly innocuous materials, like vinyl adhesives purchased at hardware stores. These may be considered hazardous!

If you need assistance determining if an item is hazardous, please contact Gary Lain. Please also refer to the How to Ship Hazardous Materials Blink page. Failure to comply with policy and regulations can incur civil penalties of $78, 376 per occurrence and criminal penalties of up to 10 years of imprisonment.‚Äč

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