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Policy WHS-PRO-015 Field Trip Procedure

WHS-PRO-015 Field Trip Procedure

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Table of Contents

1 Intent 5.1.1

Field Trip Risk Assessment

2 Scope 5.1.2

High Risk Activity Risk Assessment

3 Definitions 5.2


4 Duty, Obligations and Responsibilities 5.3


4.1 James Cook University 5.4


4.2 Directors / Deans 5.5

Children on field trips

4.3 Field Trip Approver 6


4.4 Field Trip Leader 7

Incident Management

4.5 WHS Unit 

Related policy instruments


Field Trip Participants (Staff, Students, Affiliates, Visitors (including family members))


Other related documents


Communication Person




Risk Management


1      Intent

To document and communicate James Cook University’s (JCU) minimum work health and safety legal requirements for field trips within Australia and overseas and provide a framework for responsible officers and participants to meet their obligations.

2      Scope

This procedure applies to all staff, students (including higher degree by research candidates), affiliates of James Cook University and other persons undertaking a field trip that is managed and controlled by JCU.

This procedure excludes placement activities undertaken as part of a formal program of study.

3      Definitions




Is a person (other than a Staff member or Student, including Higher Degree by Research Candidates) who is affiliated with JCU by letter of appointment or invitation to work, research or study at the University for a particular activity and typically for a prescribed timeframe and who is bound to comply with the University’s policies during that period (e.g. visiting scholars, adjuncts and volunteers).


Assistance includes rescue, medical assistance and the attendance of emergency service workers.

Boating and Diving Register

An electronic system that is used for the management of diving and boating operations at JCU

Communications Person

Must be a JCU staff member who has knowledge of the field trip, is not a participant on the field trip and who is contactable in the event of an emergency and for the scheduled call ins.

Communication Plan

A plan detailing who is involved in communication, frequency of contact and communication channel.  The Field Trip Leader is responsible for developing and implementing the communication plan.

Field site

A workplace where personnel engage in JCU approved field trip activities

Field trip and field trip activities

Any approved work / activity for the purpose of work, study or research that is conducted by JCU staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students and volunteers at various field sites which are off-campus.  This includes urban, rural, terrestrial, freshwater marine or remote locations.

In the context of this Procedure, a field trip does not include:

  • Inter-campus travel (Townsville, Cairns, Singapore)
  • Urban office locations
  • Off campus meetings
  • Attending conferences
  • Visits to an urban area where the participants are considered to be an audience
  • Location reconnaissance in an urban area
  • Travel within an urban area
  • Travel to and work at JCU managed research stations using the research stations safe system   of work.

Field Trip Approver

The person with the overall authority to approve the field trip and the field trip activities.

The Field Trip Approver will be the Director or Dean or a person authorised by the Director or Dean.

Field Trip Management System

In relation to this procedure, field trip management system refers to the RiskWare Field Trip Module.

Field Trip Leader

The person authorised by the Director / Dean to lead the field trip, and who is responsible for the health and safety for all participants for the duration of the field trip.


In relation to a field trip, a participant means any staff member, student, visitor (including family members) or affiliate approved by the Head / Director to actively participate in the field trip.


In relation to a field trip, this means a location where activities are performed over the duration of the field trip that is isolated from the assistance of other persons because of location, time or the nature of the field trip.

A location may be considered remote if assistance cannot be provided within half an hour in an emergency situation.

A remote field trip is considered a high risk activity.

4      Duty, Obligations and Responsibilities

4.1    James Cook University

The off-campus location where work is conducted is recognised as a workplace under the work health and safety law.

Accordingly, JCU as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) is required to ensure that a suitable system is in place to enable the safe conduct of field trips.

4.2    Directors / Deans

The Director / Dean has a responsibility to ensure :

  • Prior to the commencement of each field trip, hazards and risks associated with the field trip have been identified and control measures eliminate or minimise hazards and risks as far as is reasonably practicable;
  • The Field Trip Leader is competent to manage the field trip;
  • The Field Trip Approver is appropriately trained and has firsthand experience of extensive knowledge of the field trip activities; and
  • All field trip participants are adequately trained as well as being adequately informed

The Director / Dean has the authority to withdraw approval if the risk status changes in the period between approval and departure or performing specific field trip activity.

4.3    Field Trip Approver

The Field Trip Approver must:

  • Be authorised by the Director or Dean to approve field trips under this procedure;
  • Review field trip risk assessments to ensure all hazards and risks have been identified and the controls are reasonably practicable;
  • Communicate directly with the field trip leader if information is incomplete, hazards not identified or risks not adequately controlled;
  • Ensure the Field Trip Leader is competent to manage the field trip;
  • Ensure all field trip participants are adequately trained to safely perform the work; Have undertaken the required risk management training in order to perform the role of Field Trip Approver;
  • Sign off on field trip documentation, after it has been completed by the field trip leader and prior to commencement of the field trip;Ensure field trips are recorded in the JCU field trip management system; and
  • Escalate the field trips with risk assessments residual risk rating of high  to the relevant Deputy Vice Chancellor or an Officer of the University nominated by the DVC for additional approval.

4.4    Field Trip Leader

The Field Trip Leader is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that any WHS hazards and risks associated with the field trip are identified and control measures implemented to eliminate or minimise the hazards and risks so far as is reasonably practicable;.
  • Authorising cancellations, postponement or modification to the planned schedule at any time during the field trip;
  • Ensuring that any changes to an approved field trip (including but not limited to changes to activities, personnel, location, dates, etc.)  are reassessed (additional risk assessment / update current risk assessment) and the field trip approver advised of the changes;
  • Consulting with the communications person in the development of the communication plan;
  • Ensuring the communication person is aware of the status of the trip (i.e. left for / returned from field trip) including updating the status on the field trip system;
  • Identifying field trip specific training and competency requirements for participants as part of the field trip planning process;
  • Ensuring all field trip participants have received a pre-trip safety briefing;
  • Ensuring all field trip participants have adequate skills and competencies to perform the activities expected during that field trip;
  • Monitoring the working environment to ensure acceptable standards of conduct (as required by JCU Staff and Student Codes of Conduct).  This includes not creating an environment which may increase the risk of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault (e.g. safe consumption of alcohol where allowable);
  • Modelling appropriate behaviours;
  • Treating all reports or complaints on matters affecting the health and safety of participants seriously and taking immediate action to resolve or escalate the matter;
  • Being aware of the University’s incident management, notification and reporting requirements;
  • Advising all participants to review JCU insurance coverage to enable them to make an informed decision on any additional insurance requirements;
  • Completing an Authorisation of a Volunteer (for insurance purposes) form for each volunteer participant;
  • Logging all boating and diving field trips in the Boating and Diving Register prior to the trip; and
  • Booking third party travel in accordance with JCU Financial Management Practice Manual.

4.5      Work Health and Safety (WHS) Unit

The WHS Unit is responsible for:

  • Developing, delivering instruction and providing assistance on the Field Trip Management System to field trip leaders and approvers;
  • Administering the Field Trip Management System; and
  • Providing assistance and guidance for managing field trip related WHS risks.

4.6    Field Trip Participants (Staff, Students, Affiliates, Visitors (including family members))

Each field trip participant has a duty under work health and safety legislation to ensure that his or her work environment complies with the legislation.

Field trip participants have legal obligations to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and take reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons.

Field Trip Participants are required to:

  • Take reasonable care of their own health and safety;
  • Take reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons;
  • Follow reasonable instructions from the Field Trip Leader;
  • Immediately report any hazard or incident to the Field Trip Leader;
  • Follow JCU’s Staff or Student Code of Conduct as applicable at all times throughout the field trip including after work activities / during leisure time;
  • Follow all University policies and procedures; and
  • Make themselves aware of the JCU insurance cover to aid in making an informed decision on any extra insurance requirements for the trip duration.

4.7     Communication Person

The Communication Person is responsible for:

  • Monitoring the communication plan in accordance with the Field Trip Leader’s instructions, following notification from the Field Trip Leader that the field trip has commenced; and
  • Carrying out the ‘no response’ plan if contact with the field trip team is unable to be made.

5 Requirements

5.1    Risk Management

The purpose of the field trip, together with a summary of its associated activities and expected outcomes, must be clearly established at the planning stage.  This will provide context for the Director / Dean to decide on the acceptable level of risk.

If, prior to, or over the duration of the field trip, circumstances change, the Field Trip Leader must review the existing approved risk assessments and revise as necessary to ensure adequate control measures remain in place.  New or modified risk assessments must be documented.

All risk assessments must be completed in accordance with the JCU Risk Management Policy.

5.1.1 Field Trip Risk Assessment

All field trips must undergo a mandatory risk assessment at the planning stage of the field trip.

This overarching risk assessment must cover the following as a minimum:

  • Threat analysis (security threat, significant natural hazards, and health risks).
  • Emergency planning that provides for:
    • Effective response to an emergency
    • Evacuation and rescue procedures
    • Notifying emergency services
    • Medical treatment and assistance
    • Effective communication between the field trip participants and the Communications Person to coordinate an emergency response
  • First aid provisions including trained personnel and first aid kits.
  • Information, training and instruction for the nature of the activities, the foreseeable risks and the control measures implemented.
  • Drinking water, hygiene and eating facilities.
  • Fitness for work: Participants should consider their ability to safely complete the physical requirements of the field trip activities, with respect to their individual fitness levels and limitations, pre-existing medical conditions, injuries, allergies, medications etc.
  • Fatigue management planning: may encompass field trip activity timing, duration, breaks, task loading, as well as an individuals’ fitness for work.
  • Plant and Equipment, which must be suitable for the task, serviced and tagged.
    • Safe living arrangements. This may include providing accommodation/tents for participants with respect to gender, religious or other preferences, privacy for personal hygiene activities (e.g. getting changed, bathing, toileting), and consideration of animals / insects.
    • Breaches of the Code of Conduct and related procedures.
    • Handling of animals.  This may include hazardous manual tasks and/or infectious disease risks.

5.1.2 High Risk Activity Risk Assessment

Some activities may present a higher risk than others.  These require participants to have specific skills, training or qualifications.

The overall field trip risk assessment, must specifically identify every high risk activity that is undertaken throughout the duration of the field trip.

The high risk activity risk assessment must outline the information, training and instruction required for the nature of the activities, the foreseeable risks and the control measures implemented.

Activities that require individual risk assessment include but are not limited to:

  • Working Alone
  • Bushwalking in remote locations
  • Boating, diving and snorkelling
  • Operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
  • Driving vehicles on unsealed or gravel roads
  • Operation of firearms and other weapons
  • Cliff walking, rock climbing, caving
  • Operation of All Terrain Vehicles (ATV)
  • Operation of mobile plant
  • Erecting and installing plant
  • High Risk Work as defined under Schedule 3 of the WHS Regulations 2011 for example forklift and crane operations
  • Use of high voltage equipment
  • Use of light aircraft and helicopters
  • Horse riding
  • Animal handling (including venomous, poisonous, large animals and animals with zoonotic disease potential)
  • Risk of fall greater than 2m

Related Information:

Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice 2011

First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice 2014

JCU Risk Management Policy

JCU Weapons Policy

JCU Remotely Piloted Aircraft Procedure

5.2    Approval

This section refers to the approval of the health and safety management of the field trip.

The health and safety risk management of a field trip is required to be approved by the Director / Dean in the Division / College / Directorate using the JCU field trip management system.  The field trip must be approved prior to commencement.

Approval shall only be granted if the Approver clearly understands the hazards and risks associated with the field trip and determines that the identified control measures eliminate or minimise hazards and risks as far as is reasonably practicable.

The Director / Dean may authorise a field trip approval to be undertaken by an appropriately trained person who has firsthand experience or extensive knowledge of the field trip activities.

However, the overall responsibility for ensuring field trip health and safety is not able to be delegated.  

5.3    Training

The WHS Unit provides training and information to assist workers to identify, treat and manage WHS risk.  JCU WHS training requirements are detailed in WHS-PRO-004 Training and Competency Procedure.

5.4    Insurance

JCU has a combination of insurance policies in place to insure field trip participants.  The level of cover within the different policies varies depending on the participant’s relationship with JCU. All participants are responsible for making themselves aware of JCU insurance cover to assist in making an informed decision on any additional insurance requirements.  Refer to the JCU insurance webpage for further information.

5.5    Children on field trips

The University understands that at times, there may be circumstances where a Staff member, Student, Affiliate or Visitor, may wish to have a Child or Children accompany them on a Field Trip. The parent, guardian or carer must receive approval for the child to accompany them, prior to taking part in a Field Trip. WHS-PRO-022 Children in the Workplace and Study Environment Field Trip Procedure details the University’s requirements for approval and management of children on field trips.

6      Monitoring

To ensure the field trip procedure effectiveness, field trips may be subject to audits.  The purpose of the audit is to assess compliance with this procedure and compliance with the field trip management system (including risk assessment controls).

Auditing may be conducted by the WHS Unit or the Division / Directorate.

7      Incident Management

All work health and safety incidents / hazards must be reported immediately to the Field Trip Leader.  The incident / hazard is required to be logged into RiskWare as soon as practicable. Incident and hazards can be reported during the field trip using the RiskWare Pocket Safety App.  The Field Trip Leader is responsible for managing the incident in accordance with WHS-PRO-005 Incident Hazard Management Procedure.

Critical incidents during field trips must be managed in accordance with the JCU Incident Management Policy and Critical Incident Procedures.

Work Health and Safety Policy

Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedure for Staff and Affiliates

Children in the Workplace and Study Environment Policy

Code of Conduct

Incident Management Policy and Critical Incident Procedures

Risk Management Policy

Sexual Assault Procedure

Sexual Harassment Procedure

Student Complaint Management Policy and Procedures

Student Code of Conduct

Weapons Policy

WHS-PRO-002 WHS Risk Management Procedure

WHS-PRO-004 Training and Competency Procedure

WHS-PRO-005 Incident & Hazard Management Procedure

WHS-PRO-016 Boating Procedure

WHS-PRO-017 Diving Procedure

WHS-PRO-018 Remotely Piloted Aircraft Procedure

WHS-PRO-022 Children in the Workplace and Study Environment Field Trip Procedure

First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021

Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice 2021

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011


NOTE:  Printed copies of this Procedure are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy Sponsor

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Services and Resources

Version no.


Date for next Major Review


Revision History


Approval date

Implementation date



20-1 16/07/2020 31/07/2020 Minor amendments consequential to change of name of work unit from Health Safety and Environment Unit to Work Health and Safety Unit. Administrative Officer Work Health and Safety Unit




Amendments in response to JCU Internal Audit C-17-05 Field Trip (Compliance) Audit Office of the Chief of Staff

HSE Principal Technical Advisor




Amendments to align with Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Principal Technical Advisor, HSE




Minor amendments – definitions - ‘Contact person’ changed to: ‘Communications person’ and references to it amended throughout the procedure; Definition of ‘Field trip and field trip activities’ and ‘Remote’ also amended; ‘Threat analysis’ changed to ‘Risk analysis’.

HSE Systems Officer




Procedure established – replaces Field Work

HSE Project Officer

Consultation Committee

Health, Safety and Environment Advisory Committee (HSEAC)

Contact Unit


Field, Field Trip, Remote,