Belize Lane Field Safety Plan

Printable Version

Verision 1.1


1. Document Purpose

This document outlines the roles, responsibilities, and planning/safety requirements and procedures that will cover day-to-day field work at the WET Lab.

2. Roles and Responsibilities

2.1. In-town Supervisor

An individual will be designated the In-Town Supervisor for all field trips. This individual is responsible for receiving communication from the field team for the duration of the field trip.

2.2. Field Lead

Prior to field outings a Field Lead is designated. The designated Field Lead is responsible for evaluating work sites and activities to ensure practices are appropriate for the task being performed. For the duration of each field outing the designated Field Lead is responsible for:

  • Ensuring personnel are properly trained for the work being performed and that a current, signed Field Safety Agreement is on file with the business office
  • Ensuring work has been properly evaluated and site inspected.
  • Ensuring personnel are using the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Ensuring personnel are following safe work practices as outlined in this document and any other field safety materials and/or training presentations used by the WET Lab.
  • Ensuring personnel are dressed appropriately for the weather and have any additional clothing appropriate for foreseeable changes in the weather as presented in the Nation Weather Service forecast for the area including the field sites.
  • ENSURING THE CANCELLATION OF THE TRIP if any of the above requirements are not met. If the team is not ready, then the trip will not proceed. Regroup and re-attempt under safer conditions.

Outside of site visits and field activities, the Field Leads are responsible for periodic inspection of Safety Equipment, upgrading and replacing as necessary.

2.3. Technicians, Students, and Visitors

Technicians, Students and Visitors are responsible for the following:

  • Understanding, based in part on training, but also based on their observations in the field, the hazards encountered on field trips
  • Following safe work practices required while performing work activities and visiting sites
  • Using the PPE specified for the task being performed
  • Communicating to the Field Lead any issues with equipment, personal safety, or general concerns

3. Planning

3.1. Safety Training Requirements

The Field Lead will initially review this document and the procedures herein with all other individuals visiting or working in the field. Such a review is a prerequisite to beginning field work for new technicians/participants. A similar review will also be undertaken at least annually for those associated with field work.

Upon completion of initial field safety training or periodic re-training personnel will sign a Field Safety Agreement and this will be kept on file in the UWRL Business Office.

3.2. Safety Equipment

UWRL will provide required PPE for employees and visitors.

  • As required for in- or near-water activities
    • Wading gear, including waders, required wader belt, and wading boots
    • Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
  • As required depending on activity/location
    • Protective Gloves
    • Eye Protection
    • Hearing protection
    • Hunter Orange vest for use during hunting season
  • To be accessible to field groups during all activity
    • First aid kit including first aid reference
    • Cold water immersion/hypothermia kit
    • Two-way satellite communicator/emergency beacon
    • Ham radio (as appropriate and when at least one FCC licensed operator is joining the trip)
    • Fire kit

3.3. General Personal Care and Dress Requirements

3.3.1. General Summer

  • Sunlight contains UV radiation, which can cause cataracts and skin cancer. Be sure to cover up and bring sunscreen and wear a wide brimmed hat and UV absorbent sun glasses.
  • Drink plenty beforehand and bring plenty of water. Generally, for a half day trip with activity in the sun, bring 2-3 L or 1L with a filter system. Wear light loose clothing. Take frequent short brakes in the shade. Eat smaller meals.
  • Use the buddy system and learn the signs of heat-related illness – clammy, profuse sweating, dizziness. Place an overheated worker in the shade or a cool room. Loosen clothing and apply a cool wet cloth to face and neck. Vomiting suggests medical attention is needed.
  • Hiking: Wear appropriate footwear for the terrain and loose synthetic clothing – no cotton.
  • Rain and snow. Always prepare for changing weather conditions, especially if working in mountain environments. Bring a rain jacket with hood, rain pants, and waterproof boots. If potentially hiking in snow or swampy areas, bring gators. When ground is wet, move slowly and safely as ground may be slippery.
  • Bring food, protein bars, nuts, dried fruit, etc. and eat smaller meals.

3.3.2. General Winter

  • Sun protection: Snow reflects sunlight at all different angels, so ensure you have adequate sunscreen and put in places you wouldn’t think (e.g. the bridge between your nostrils). Oil based sunscreen are good in the winter because water based sunscreens can freeze and irritate your skin
  • Layers: Bring multiple layers of clothing including a synthetic, silk, or wool base layer, a mid-layer, and a water proof shell with pit-zips. Maintaining body temperatures that are not too low or too high is critical. If you are too warm you will sweat and your clothing will get wet and your will be cold and uncomfortable.
  • You should have waterproof pants, boots, gaiters where appropriate, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • Bring plenty of water and/or a water filter
  • Bring plenty of dried food for a day

3.3.3. Working in High Mountain Environments – General Summer

Mountain environments are dynamic and when working in these areas one should be prepared for all weather conditions (including snow in July) and to potentially stay the night.

  • Exposure to severe lighting storms when above tree line is possible. Exit water immediately.
  • Mountain environments experience rapid changes in weather including temperature and precipitation regimes. Ensure you have adequate clothing including,
    • Rain Jacket with hood, rain pants, waterproof shoes/boots, gaiters,
    • Extra clothing layers made of wool or synthetic materials.
    • Food and water (include a water filtration unit)
    • Shelter – tent or bivy sack

3.3.4. Thunderstorms and Lightning

  • If in water, get out as soon as possible
  • Avoid isolated tall trees. Lighting is likely to strike the tallest object in a given area (try not to be the tallest object). Avoid open areas. Retreat to dense smaller trees, low lying areas, and avoid water. Avoid metal objects like fencing and do not lean on concrete as it may have metal scaffolding inside. Never lie flat on the ground.

3.3.5. Dangerous Wildlife

There are a wide range and variety of animals living in northern Utah. Bear, elk, moose, deer, mountain lions and mountain goats are among the larger animals. Bobcats, coyotes, fox, porcupines, raccoons, beaver, badgers, rabbits, weasels, squirrels, and pikas make up many of the smaller animals. Birds are abundant too, including eagles, owls, and hawks. Closer to the ground are lizards, rattlesnakes, and many insects.(1)

Normal caution should be taken with any and all animals encountered in the field. Leave them be; they are most likely trying to avoid you anyway. Serious risk is unlikely, but possible, and is posed largely by venomous snakes and insects. Several rattlesnake species, venomous spiders (black widow spiders, hobo spiders, desert recluse spider, etc) may be encountered while in the field. Caution should be taken to avoid these animals should they fail to avoid you. Be aware of your surroundings and what is on the ground or in areas into which you may be reaching or crawling. Should you be bitten by something dangerous, you may not know immediately. Know which symptoms may indicate a snake or spider bite, including but not necessarily limited to: To identify a snake bite, consider the following general symptoms (not exhaustive list)(4):
  • Two puncture wounds
  • Swelling and redness around the wounds
  • Pain at the bite site
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating and salivating
  • Numbness in the face and limbs To identify a spider bite, consider the following general symptoms (non-exhaustive list)(3):

Typically, a spider bite looks like any other bug bite — a red, inflamed, sometimes itchy or painful bump on your skin — and may even go unnoticed. Harmless spider bites usually do not produce any other symptoms.

Symptoms associated with spider bites can vary from minor to severe. Although extremely rare, death can occur in the most severe cases. Possible symptoms resulting from a spider bite include:

  • Itching or rash
  • Pain radiating from the site of the bite
  • Muscle pain or cramping
  • Reddish to purplish color or blister
  • Increased sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • High blood pressure First Aid

Workers should take the following steps if they are bitten by a spider (3):

  • Stay calm. Identify the type of spider if it is possible to do so safely. Identification will aid in medical treatment.
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice to the bite area to reduce swelling.
  • Elevate bite area if possible.
  • Do not attempt to remove venom.
  • Notify your supervisor.
  • Immediately seek professional medical attention.

Workers should take the following steps if they are bitten by a snake (4):

  • If you or someone you know are bitten, try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.
  • Keep the bitten person still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is venomous.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • Apply first aid if you cannot get the person to the hospital right away.
  • Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.
  • Tell him/her to stay calm and still.
  • Wash the wound with warm soapy water immediately.
  • Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.

What NOT TO DO if you or someone else is bitten by a snake (4):

  • Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it (this may put you or someone else at risk for a bite).
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Do not slash the wound with a knife.
  • Do not suck out the venom.
  • Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water.
  • Do not drink alcohol as a pain killer.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages.





4.    Procedures

4.1. Pre-Trip Planning and Communication Plan

4.1.1. Identification of In-Town Supervisor

4.1.2. Standard Field Trips

A “standard” field trip is a visit to an existing, permanent station or site to perform regular cleaning, calibration, maintenance, grab sampling, to download data, or to take a discharge measurement. For a standard outing, comprising one or more standard site visits and NO non-standard site visits or field trips:

  • For Standard Field Trips, Dr. Lane is designated the standing In-Town Supervisor.
  • Email notification of the basic trip itinerary will be given to supervisory personnel before the group leaves the UWRL. The In-Town Supervisor should be available to coordinate communication from the field team as necessary. If the standing in-town supervisor is out of town or indisposed, find an appropriate substitute.
  • Basic trip itinerary will include anticipated destinations, activities, and return time.
  • Email notification will include confirmation of anticipated communication method (as necessary) during trip. For example, cell phones, satellite communicator, amateur radio, amateur radio via repeater, or telephone via amateur radio repeater.
  • A gear checklist will be completed by the field team prior to departure
  • A weather forecast check will be completed by the team prior to departure and should include all areas included in the trip itinerary. Forecast source:
  • For standard field trips, notification must be given to in-town supervisor as soon as it becomes reasonable that the anticipated return time/window will be missed.

4.1.3. Non-Standard Field Trips

A “non-standard” field trip is anything not covered by the above definition of “standard” field trip. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Sampling trips into areas not normally visited by field teams
  • Deployment, recovery, or maintenance of remote weather stations or sensors
  • Any night work, including at existing, permanent stations or sites

For a non-standard field trip, even those including one or more standard site visits:

  • Email notification of the detailed trip itinerary will be shared with team members and supervisory personnel at least the day before the group leaves the UWRL.
  • Confirmation of the itinerary must be returned to the Field Lead before the trip may commence.
  • A detailed trip itinerary will include duration and begin/end time of day for each item in the itinerary, such as departure times, trailhead times, travel times, work-on-site times, return travel times, any check-in times, etc.
  • Email notification will include confirmation of anticipated communication method (as necessary) during trip. For example, cell phones, satellite communicator, amateur radio, amateur radio via repeater, or telephone via amateur radio repeater.
  • A gear checklist will be completed by the field team prior to departure
  • A weather forecast check will be completed by the team both the day before the trip and prior to departure the day of the trip, and should include all areas included in the trip itinerary. Forecast source:
  • Before a trip commences, the Field Lead must receive from the In-Town Supervisor confirmation that they know they are the in-town supervisor and that they will be available for the anticipated duration of the field trip.
  • Notification must be given to in-town supervisor as soon as ANY individual itinerary item’s timing is overshot. Communication should include anticipated mitigation. For example, state if there is a chance that the time will be made up on subsequent items and the overall schedule of the trip will be regained or if a subsequent item or items will be skipped to preserve timing or priority of other subsequent items.

4.2. Trip Completion Confirmation

Upon completion of all field work the in-town supervisor will be notified of the Field Team’s safe return to the UWRL.

4.3. Self-Assessment/Safety Equipment Checklist

What to bring:

  • PPE as required
    • Gloves
    • Safety glasses
    • Hearing protection
    • PFD
  • First aid kit
  • Water immersion kit
  • Safety orange for hunting season
  • Traffic cones for work near vehicle traffic

4.4. Surface Water Activities

The following sections have been adapted from the USGS publication: A Guide to Safe Field Operations; U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 95-777 (

Procedures and guidelines to avoid personal injury during wading are discussed below.

4.4.1. Wading

Wading represents one of the greatest potential sources of accidents. Constant awareness of wading dangers and weather conditions needs to be maintained to avoid accidents and potential injury. Listed below are some safety guidelines that need to be observed:

  • ALWAYS wear a belt on your waders. Waders without a belt pose a serious risk should they become overtopped and fill with water. If your waders do fill with water, you need to remove the waders to keep them from holding you under water.
  • Do not wear boots or waders that are too tight or too loose.
  • Determine whether the river stage is rising or falling. Beware of rapid rises in river stage when wading and anticipate and allow for changes in flow conditions at the end of the measurement. It is a good idea to select an object (rock, stump, mark along bank, etc.) that is just above water surface and keep watching it to determine if the river stage is rising or falling.
  • Always probe the stream bed ahead with a rod when moving from bank to bank. Keep your feet spread apart and alignment of legs parallel to the flow for better stability.
  • If the velocity becomes too great for safe wading do not turn around, because when the greater area of the front or back of the body is exposed to the current, you may be swept downstream. Back out carefully, bracing yourself with the wading rod.
  • Use careful judgment to determine when to wear a PFD while wading and conducting activities in swift water. If it appears possible that you may be swept into any water downstream of the wading area, wherein a PFD could potentially be protective, it should be worn. Keep in mind that water as shallow as 15 cm is capable of knocking you off your feet if it is moving fast enough.
  • Beware of sand channels where pot-holes, quicksand, and scour can be hazardous.
  • Beware of slick, steep banks and swampy areas.
  • Watch for debris and drifting ice.