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TitleField safety: principles, practice, culture
AuthorAlpay, SORCID logo; Paulen, R CORCID logo
SourceGeomorphological fieldwork; Earth Surface Processes and Landforms vol. 18, 2014 p. 65-90,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20140208
Mediapaper; digital; on-line
File formatpdf
SubjectsHealth and Safety
ProgramGEM2: Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals Hudson/Ungava, Northeastern Quebec-Labrador, surficial geology
Released2014 01 01
AbstractIntrinsic to field work in the earth sciences are field safety practices that ultimately aim to preserve life, health, property and the environment. Field operations, transportation, equipment, instrumentation, wildlife, personnel, and physical settings are diverse, and there is no single standard solution for each field site. However, the approach of systematically identifying risks or task hazards potentially encountered during field work, and their mitigation measures which eliminate or reduce them, can be universally applied. This approach requires critical thinking that has no true substitute, but can be supported by practices and leadership within a culture of safety. Practices rely on feedback loops for continual renewal and improvement of key elements through experience, and as new situations emerge. For example, standards for minimum field safety requirements are defined based on operational experience and expertise in addition to the minimum legislated controls that vary by jurisdiction. Beyond satisfying regulated safety requirements, field-based scientific organizations can create practices that promote taking responsibility for their safety and that of others (e.g., joint field parties) that begin with forethought and discussion at all levels of organizational hierarchies (i.e., senior management, supervisors, occupational health and safety expertise, and field personnel). Processes to achieve required qualifications in training, plan emergency response procedures, delegate tasks, evaluate field party competencies, communicate field safety issues, deploy field equipment safely, report and assess deviations from safety planning, and re-assess prior risk management decisions for their current relevance, can be tailored according to specific risks and their mitigation in the task hazard analysis. Under supportive leadership, these practices stimulate a positive culture of safety with built-in feedback loops to improve safety performance and, ultimately, master problem-solving skills to increase collective and individual resilience to address both the foreseen and unexpected risks of field work.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
A paper outling the nature of modern fieldwork, with field safety being one of the most important aspects of fieldwork planning and execution. This paper is a general review outling the modern culture of field safety. This was an invited paper to a textbook being published on geomorphological fieldwork, and is part of the GEM-1 Legacy on Protocol Development, under the Tri-Territorial Indicator Mineral Project. Note that there are no specific past, present, or future field safety events or issues documented in this paper - it is intended for a general audience, from students to professionals, on embracing the culture of safe practices while in the field.

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