Skip to main content
CFAES Safety and Compliance home

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

CFAES Field Teaching & Research Safety

Field research is an important aspect of research at The Ohio State University - College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Safety guidelines are intended to help researchers prepare for safety and health concerns that may be encountered while conducting research off campus. Individuals are responsible for their own safety, as well as for performing research in a manner that does not endanger the safety of those around them. For specific information about fieldwork hazards and precautions, consult your PI/ supervisor and/or the resources listed below.

Field research is defined as work activities conducted for the purpose of research by employees or students of the university outside of a research laboratory. General field research hazards may be presented by research activities, as well from the physical, political, social, cultural and/or economic environment of the field location. CFAES field research can present additional hazards such as working around heavy equipment, working with animals or livestock, chemical / pesticide exposure, working in moving water, working in isolated areas, and severe weather. While some events may be unpredictable and may be unavoidable, the risks associated with field research can be greatly reduced through training, awareness of hazards and exercising good judgment.

Clarification of individuals involved in CFAES field research:

Research Farm / Station Manager is a person responsible for the day to day operations of a specific off-campus research location and manages a variety of field research projects at that location.
Principal Investigator (PI) is a faculty member who assembles a team to carry out field research.
Field Supervisor is a person appointed by the Principal Investigator to directly oversee field research at the field location. Field supervisor and Research Farm / Station Manager may be the same person in some situations.
Field Worker is a person who carries out research under the direction of a field supervisor.

Solitary field research activities in remote areas are strongly discouraged. Whenever possible, fieldwork should be performed in teams of at least two people after assessing the field research risks and available controls and establishing safety procedures.

Each field researcher has the right to refuse to participate in an activity that they feel may endanger their own safety or the safety of another person.

All individuals involved with CFAES field research should ensure that appropriate controls and safety procedures are in place to deal with the risks reasonably expected to be associated with the field research, as well as provision of appropriate protective equipment and training.

All reseachers and research groups conducting field research need to complete a field research safety plan. Links to plan templates are listed below and it is highly advised that all researchers reveiw the 2022 Field Research Safety Training Video.

CFAES Agricultural Field Research Safety Guidelines
CFAES Agricultural Field Research Safety Plan Template
CFAES Environmental / Natural Resources Field Research Safety Guidelines
CFAES Environmental / Natural Resources Field Research Safety Plan Template
CFAES Environmental / Natural Resources: Course and Program Liability Release Form
CFAES Severe Weather Guidelines for Field Research
CFAES Student Employee Safety Orientation Checklist
CFAES Working Alone Safety Program
OSU University Fleet Policy 2.72
OSU Field Research Safety Information
OSU Safety Guidelines for Field Researchers
OSU Field Research Plan Template
Safety Guidelines for Field Researchers (UC Berkley)
OSU FAQ for Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
OSU Standard Operating Procedure- Operations / Equipment Template
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Research (Univ. of Illinois)
Safe fieldwork strategies for at-risk individuals, their supervisors and institutions (PDF)
ADVANCEGeo Partnership - In the Field (Inclusion and Diversity)
Ten Steps to Protect BIPOC Scholars in the Field


If you have any questions, please contact Kent McGuire (CFAES Safety and Health Coordinator) at or (614) 292-0588. You may also contact the OSU Environmental Health and Safety Office online at or by phone at (614) 292-1284.


Reviewed / Updated: 3/8/22 K. McGuire