Field Work

The Field Work Risk Management Program supports the University’s endeavours to engage in scholarship and research activities outside of its geographical boundaries, while maintaining a safe work environment and managing risk related to such activities. This program is designed to define risk management responsibilities and requirements for conducting field work to enable those in authority to take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of participating members.

See the Field Work Risk Management Program for more information.

Information on field work

Field work consists of authorized work, study or teaching activities which are undertaken by faculty, staff or students at a location outside of the geographical boundaries of University property.

The Field Work Risk Management Program does not apply to the following activities:

  • Supervised study or work placements at external institutions, including co-operative education or unpaid work placements which are approved under a program of study by the University.
  • General travel for or attendance at conferences, seminars, meetings, training or visits to other institutions. Assistance and risk management guidance related specifically to international travel is available through Waterloo International.
  • External activities (including consulting) undertaken by faculty, staff or students that are not part of the individual’s employment responsibilities or academic program, including sabbatical non-work-related travel or exchange programs.
  • Course or research activities conducted on University property. Mitigation of health and safety risks for these activities falls under the University’s Risk Assessment Program.

Field Work is further defined as being of either Low or Significant Risk.

Low risk (Field Work Risk Management Plan is not required)

An activity is deemed to be of low risk if it presents hazards which are no greater than those encountered by participants in their everyday lives, and that can be minimized through planning, training and standard operating procedures. Examples of Low Risk Field Work activities:

  • Supervised Field Work which includes low risk activities (e.g. walking, observation) and is located in an urban region. 
  • Travel to destinations identified by the Government of Canada travel advice and advisories as being Level 1 (Exercise normal security precautions) or Level 2 (Exercise a high degree of caution).

Significant risk (Field Work Risk Management Plan is required)

An activity will be deemed of significant risk if it has the potential to expose participants to hazards that are greater than those likely to be encountered in their everyday lives. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Field Work at industrial sites - factories, mining operations and construction sites.
  • Activities that require specialized safety training and/or certification.
  • Travel to areas where significant health or safety precautions are required.
  • Driving for extensive periods, use of heavy vehicles or trailers, or hazardous terrain.
  • Field Work at sites with hazardous substances.
  • Field Work which by nature entails risk (e.g. work over ice or water, rock climbing, high altitudes, diving, hazardous flora or fauna, equipment hazards, weather extremes).
  • Any field work in remote regions where access to communications, emergency services or assistance may be limited.
  • Any Field Work, where undergraduate students are not accompanied by a faculty/staff supervisor (e.g. student team competitions).
  • Overnight trips with undergraduate students.
  • All international travel involving Field Work, and/or high-risk international travel (note high risk travel requires approval from the Provost)


All University of Waterloo field work supervisors should complete:

Field Work Risk Management Program Training (SO2071)

Optional training

River Wading Safety by Bill Annable, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Forms, templates and guidelines

Travel requirements