Field Research Safety Planning Requirements

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.  A comprehensive Field Operational Planning tool developed by EH&S for this purpose is available on Blink, or you may prefer to use the shorter, more streamlined Field Research Safety Planning Record (FRSPR) used by IGPP and others at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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.

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.
Whichever form you decide to use, remember it must be filled out and submitted to your MSO before beginning any field research travel.   If there is a site/facility that is visited multiple times, only one FRSPR per fiscal year is required.  PIs who do not submit a completed field research safety plan in advance may not be able to get travel reimbursements processed afterwards.

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

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.