Frequently asked questions

Get the answers to questions you may have about field activities.

What is a field activity?

A field activity is any work carried out by staff or students for the purposes of teaching, research or representing the University of Auckland off-campus (where the health and safety of participants is not managed by other host institutions).

This includes:

  • Groups of staff, students and contractors who travel off-campus as part of a University course of study (undergraduate or postgraduate).
  • Groups of staff, students and contractors who travel off-campus as part of a University research project, and are intending to visit or work at locations that are not governed by the University's health and safety policies and controls.
  • Staff and students engaged in research off campus.

What are some examples of field activities?

  • Archaeology expeditions
  • Clinical work at a non-University facility
  • Collecting biological and other specimens
  • Driving off-road or heavy vehicles, e.g. tractors, forklifts
  • Farm studies and animal research at a non-University facility
  • Fauna observations and monitoring
  • Flora observations and monitoring
  • Geological and geothermal research
  • International travel to countries where health and/or personal security may be
    under threat
  • Research in places that involve risks to personal safety, including racism or gender based harassment, or violence
  • Interviewing members of the public
  • Investigative journalism and photography
  • Social studies in remote communities overseas
  • Surveying work
  • Walking through dense bush or over rough terrain
  • Working at mine sites or excavation sites
  • Working in alpine environments
  • Working in marine, coastal, lake, river and estuary environments
  • Working in remote locations (more than one hour by road to a 24-hour accident and emergency facility)
  • Working on volcanoes

Note: This is not an exhaustive list, but it does cover many of the activities carried out by University staff and students that are potentially 'high risk'. 

What off-campus activities are not considered to be field activities?

Field activity does not include:

  • Approved travel to conferences (with University travel insurance coverage) where participants can be expected to be responsible for their own wellbeing
  • Activities based at established University facilities, which are covered by the University health and safety policy
  • Study that is part of a University of Auckland Study Abroad programme or elective courses taken at other institutions
  • Local and international off-campus placements of students and staff.

Who should write the field activity plan?

An academic leader of teaching and research, professional staff manager or contractor who has the qualifications, authority and responsibility to make decisions on all aspects of the field activity.

This person will normally be the field activity leader, but it is often useful to draw on the expertise of others when writing the plan, including colleagues, other participants and the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service.

More information about writing a field activity plan: General information.

Do I have to use the University’s field activity plan template?

This template is designed to streamline the task and ensure all relevant information is captured, but if you have an equivalent form/process that you have used successfully in the past, this is also acceptable. The important things to do are:

  • Identify hazards, assess risks and put control measures in place to reduce the risks
  • Record the objective(s), location(s), itinerary, transport, accommodation, access permission(s) and other logistics. These risks may invovethe specifics of the site or activity, as well aspersonal wellbeing and interpersonal safety
  • Document an emergency response plan with all relevant contact details, scheduled check-ins etc. Look now: Planning guidance document
  • Obtain declaration and consent forms from all participants
  • Identify any pre-trip training required for participants.

Get it now: Field activity plan template.

Where can I find the field activity plan template?

You’ll find the template and some examples of completed field activity plans on the General Information page.

Who should approve my field activity plan?

As required by the Field Activity Health and Safety Standard, the completed field activity plan needs to be approved by the head of school/director of service division responsible for the area of field activity.

If the risk assessment identifies the activity as high risk after control measures have been applied, the field activity plan should also be approved by the dean or director of service division. Seek expert review, if you have not done so already.

What is 'expert review'?

Review of the field activity plan by an appointed individual or group with the qualifications and experience to provide advice and support.

What about external permissions/authorisation?

Field activity leaders should seek approval and confirm authorisation to access property, land, parks, places of work, residences etc., from the land/property owner, local iwi or indigenous people, local authorities and government agencies.

They should also check visa requirements for any overseas locations and register with the local embassy or local authorities.

Specific permits and licences may be required for field activities:

  • At sites of historical or ecological importance
  • Where samples are collected
  • Where wildlife is interacted with
  • When operating specific types of equipment.

Some agencies will require a specific health and safety plan to be provided. 

What should I include in the pre-departure briefing?

  • Full details about the logistics of the trip, including location(s), any accessibility issues, site, itinerary, travel and transport, accommodation, toilets and other facilities, first aid and catering 
  • Be inclusive and consider the needs of diverse participants
  • Practical requirements for the activity, e.g. personal protective equipment, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, footwear, weatherproof coat, water bottle
  • Is the site and activity accessible and safe for the diversity of participants likely to be involved?
  • Guidelines on health and safety measures relevant to the activity e.g. use of equipment or vehicles, communication protocols
  • Rules relating to alcohol, drugs and tobacco
  • Dress code, if applicable
  • Accident compensation insurance and travel insurance cover
  • Provide a copy of the approved emergency response plan
  • Provide a written statement about the consequences if students do not comply with
    safety instructions or display disruptive behaviour on the field trip
  • Remind all participants that they must complete and sign a declaration and consent
    form and adhere to the University's Code of Conduct 
  • Advise all participants how to report any concerns, incidents and hazards, including personal or interpersonal safety issues such asharassment.

What is the University’s policy on personal time during a field activity trip?

Personal time/downtime is time when programmed field activities are not taking place but participants remain under the general jurisdiction of the field activity leader.

During this time, participants may want to arrange activities such as sightseeing, social gatherings, meals out etc., which will not be directly supervised.

However, these activities should be approved by the field activity leader. Participants must be mindful that they are representatives of the University of Auckland and that they need to maintain high standards of behaviour at all times and adhere to the University's Code of Conduct.

It is important that participants look after each other and advise their locations, intentions and contact details to ensure their safety and wellbeing. 

Document Control
Version: 1.1
Last Updated: Mar 2023
Next Review: Mar 2026
Approver: Associate Director, Health Safety & Wellbeing