COVID-19 and Field Operations

Nicole Kollars, a PhD candidate in population biology, counts ell grass in a grid in 24 low tide locations on Friday March 21, 2016 in Bodega, CA.  Kollars is researching the seagrass recovery after it is grazed on by the Pacific brant.  She is working out of UC Bodega Marine Laboratory.  Ell grass plays a foundational role in the bay system by providing habitat, bed stabilization, and food.

A Note On COVID-19 and Field Operations

The Field Work Ramp-up Checklist (.doc) will assist you in planning field work during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Introduction 

Travel restrictions, stay-home orders, and suspended campus operations are altering field work and outdoor coursework plans for the coming season. While it may be tempting to physically isolate in a wilderness setting, there are currently additional risks associated with remote work. Field work brings close contact with colleagues in vehicles and field housing, limited access to sanitation, and interactions with members of local communities near field sites. If a crew member becomes ill in the field, it may be difficult to isolate them from others, send them home early, or access timely medical care. In addition, first responders, search and rescue volunteers, and hospitals may have reduced capacity to respond to an incident or injury in the field. 

Approval of essential work

Under guidance from the Office of Research, PIs should consult with their Chairs, Deans, and Directors to determine which of their field activities are essential during reduced operations, and which activities should be postponed. Work involving Boating and Diving or access to a UC Natural Reserve will require special approval from those programs.

Precautions 

If you are continuing essential field work, make adjustments to protect the health of your field team: 

  • Ask participants to monitor their health (bring a thermometer), and to stay home if they are sick. Include flexibility in your planning, in case you need to send somebody home or end the trip early.
  • Adjust work protocols, travel plans, and sleeping quarters to allow at least 6 feet of physical distancing. Consider taking separate vehicles and assigning separate equipment to each person.
  • Update your field safety plan and carry a hard copy in the field. Pay special attention to the change in operating status of medical facilities.
  • Encourage good hygiene: wash hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and properly discard tissues.
  • Bring adequate soap and water for handwashing, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant.
  • Frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces and shared equipment.
  • Follow CDC and local recommendations on masks or other face coverings. Some municipalities may recommend or require masks in public spaces.
  • If individuals will be working alone in the field, update your Working Alone SOP and follow your communication and check-in plans. Ask a supervisor to monitor the news from home and update you on relevant changes. Keep in frequent communication with land managers.
  • Monitor travel updates from Global Affairs and register your travel with UC Away.
Please review the resources below and reach out to fieldsafety@ucdavis.edu with questions.

Resources related to field operations during the COVID-19 pandemic

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