1. Definitions

Fieldwork is any work, study or research as part of Macquarie University business and conducted by staff, post-graduate student(s), undergraduate student(s), visiting researchers and volunteers at a field site (not within the university campus unless otherwise stated by a fieldwork manager) for which a risk assessment must be completed and approval must be sought. Visits to other institutions such as universities, museums, conferences (excluding formalised conference fieldtrips- see 'Fieldwork with another institution'), and off-campus meetings are not considered fieldwork. If there is uncertainty about a site visit or reconnaissance please seek advice from the relevant fieldwork manager.

Terrestrial fieldwork is any fieldwork conducted on the land up to but not including beach, intertidal, estuarine or lagoon areas. Freshwater environments however are often considered terrestrial fieldwork unless boating or snorkelling are involved. Work in bush land, arid areas, national parks, suburban areas including parkland and roadside sites are all considered terrestrial fieldwork.

Marine fieldwork is any fieldwork conducted in, on or closely surrounding marine or freshwater environments including compressed air diving, snorkelling, freediving and boating. 


Remote fieldwork is defined both in terms of distance, activity and accessibility. It is generally defined as but not limited to 'outside of two hours of definitive care' with definitive care being access to emergency services either at the field site or at a care facility. Remote fieldwork can also encompass:

  • Working more than 5km from a town, farmhouse or other facility with telephone or radio communications (even if personal communication devices are carried)

  • Working in off-road areas where little traffic is likely to occur or where dense bush land, hills or other topographic features would make it difficult to summon help, or if medical and other emergency support would be an hour or more away with or without a vehicle, potentially requiring a 4WD vehicle

  • Working more than fifteen minutes’ walk from a vehicle in open vegetation or five minutes’ walk from a vehicle in dense vegetation in an area without defined walking tracks

  • Any work in a freshwater or marine environment where emergency assistance would require more than one hour response time to access the emergency


Fieldwork manager is the person responsible for all terrestrial or marine fieldwork within the Department and has the authority as a delegate of the Head of Department to approve fieldwork if requirements of an application are met and if not, to assist with facilitating correct fieldwork procedure. The fieldwork manager ensures that the fieldworker embarks on a trip with as much knowledge, relevant awareness or training, equipment and understanding of WHS and personal responsibilities as reasonably practicable. 


Fieldwork team leader is the fieldwork applicant and is responsible for the team undertaking fieldwork. The team leader is the organiser of the fieldwork and is responsible for submitting the relevant Field Friendly entry to the fieldwork manager prior to each field trip. They must be present in the field to ensure safe practice, risk management and participant compliance and communicate risks to all participants before and during the field excursion. The fieldwork team leader should report any incidents/ near misses or equipment failure to the relevant fieldwork manager and refer to the online incident report.

Supervisor is the academic supervisor of the staff, student or volunteer who may or may not be participating in the field trip. Where an academic is the fieldwork team leader, a supervisor may not be required. The supervisor is responsible for checking all fieldwork activities and approving the Field Friendly entries submitted. 

Call back person is the person not participating in the fieldtrip who is in daily communication with the fieldtrip team leader at a nominated time. The call back person is to be provided with a copy of the Trip pack generated by Field Friendly. In the case that the fieldwork team leader fails to call back at the nominated time and the field team cannot be contacted, the call back person should contact University Security (98507112) who will assess the situation and begin an action plan. For remote fieldwork, local authorities such as land managers, National Parks Duty Officers or Surf Life Saving Officers are favoured for call back procedures. The fieldwork manager may ask to be delegated as call back person for some field trips.

Volunteer is a ‘pre-approved’ person willing to participate in the fieldwork activities, who is offering their time and services for no remuneration. They are considered as fieldwork participants as far as Work Health and Safety regulations and responsibilities are concerned and as such must be consulted on, provided with and comply with the same procedures and risk management policies as staff or students would be. Volunteers must be included as participants in the Trip plan and complete the sign up process via Field Friendly. Volunteers can only be granted approval to operate university vessels and vehicles when they have received the relevant induction from the fieldwork or vehicle manager. 

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