As a member of staff, the University has a duty of care towards you and must do all that’s reasonable to protect your health and safety.
This applies to any work activity you’re involved in whilst working at the University whether you’re working on campus or off-site. This simplest way of evaluating the risks involved with your work activity is by completing a risk assessment, to show the work has been planned in the safest way possible.
As risk assessments are a legal obligation and part of University policy all staff are expected to complete a risk assessment prior to travelling off site.
If you are travelling to undertake research, survey or collection work, meet with colleagues in other institutions etc then this is classed as Fieldwork. This can also include travel with student groups.
If you are working within another institution or on behalf of a third party, e.g. Erasmus, then this is usually considered as a placement. For Placements, the institution or third party assumes responsibility for your health, safety and wellbeing for the duration of your visit therefore the documentation required in advance of your trip will differ.
If you are arranging for students to travel to spend time in another institution then this would also be classed as a placement.
See the Planning a Fieldwork trip or Placement - A sensible risk management guide for more detailed information about the correct process to follow.
You need to complete a Fieldwork Risk Assessment template based around your itinerary or you can update the previous Fieldwork risk assessment you’ve completed if this a frequent trip.
If the travel activity involves students, you will need to determine whether it should be considered fieldwork or as a placement. The Fieldwork or Placement: A sensible risk management guide will help you identify the specific paperwork you’ll need to make sure is completed before you travel.
You will also need to contact Insurance@hope.ac.uk once you have completed your risk assessment and it has been signed off by the relevant Head of Department, to obtain your insurance certificate.
The University’s Fieldwork Code of Practice details the process you need to follow for most trips, the flowchart at the front of the policy document is particularly helpful.
Within this guide there is also information regarding first aid cover, arranging student or staff pre departure briefings, health and safety checklists and planning for emergencies.
The responsibility for completing the risk assessment lies with the staff member arranging the fieldwork, if this involves a number of students this is the ‘Fieldwork Leader’.
If you are helping with flight, travel or accommodation bookings you may have some useful input into the risk assessment process but you are not responsible for completing the risk assessment documentation. As the arrangements for this will differ in each department, it’s best to clarify with your colleague who will be completing the risk assessment, in order to avoid any confusion.
Once you have an idea of where you’ll be travelling, your accommodation and what you’ll be doing then this is a good point to complete the accompanying risk assessment. You’ll need to work through the common hazards associated with Fieldwork and decide if they are likely to affect your trip. If so, what is in place to mitigate the potential risk of harm?
If you are travelling to a destination that may have biological hazards present, i.e. biting insects you should be able to document the common control measures within the risk assessment, such as:
Once the risk assessment has been signed off by your Head of Department, you will need to log a copy of the risk assessment, including accommodation and contact details with the relevant person in your department so you can easily be contacted in the event of an emergency.
Ultimately each department will determine whether staff are travelling on University business and this should be considered when the department approves the travel plans. If the department do class travel as work related then they take responsibility for the staff member whilst they are away including providing any necessary supervision (remotely of course) and approving risk assessments etc (as per University procedures).
Factors to assist departments when deciding whether travel is University business include:
If your trip is arranged at short notice, you must still complete the Fieldwork risk assessment and contact Insurance@hope.ac.uk to check you have adequate insurance cover in place before you travel.
The University’s insurance policy does not exclude pre-existing medical conditions but does exclude staff and students travelling against the advice of their GP. If you are unsure whether you are fit to travel, contact your GP for verification.
It is also important that you take any medical conditions (affecting yourself or those in your party, including students) into account when completing your risk assessment. Use the Fieldwork and Overseas Travel Health Questionnaire to help capture this information.
There are restrictions on pregnant travellers that wish to work off site beyond the 36 week gestation period. There may also be some insurance restrictions placed on pregnant travellers before the 36 week gestation point, dependent on the nature and destination of travel. In most cases a Doctor’s note may be sufficient to declare you fit to travel, especially for lower risk trips such as conferences or meetings. Contact Legal Services or Insurance@hope.ac.uk for further advice.
For overseas trips you will need to research travel illnesses and vaccinations to ensure the health risks associated with your trip have been considered. This should be done at least 6 weeks before you plan to travel, to allow you enough time to make arrangements for vaccinations if they are required.
Staff are advised to use the NHS Travel Health Information and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)’s Travel Health Pro Service. Both are free services designed to inform travellers about health risks for specific countries along with vaccination recommendations.
You can also request travel vaccine information via your local GP.
Staff planning additional, recreational activities during Fieldwork may do so but may not be covered for this part of their trip under the University’s insurance policy. This is likely the case for higher risk activities such as skiing and staff will need to arrange their own, separate insurance cover for this.
Your Head of Department should approve your trip in principle prior to making any travel arrangements. Formal sign off of the risk assessment is also required by your Manager or Head of Department to prove this authorisation before an insurance certificate can be issued.
You can request some feedback or check the detail of your risk assessment with the Legal Services and Health and Safety Assistant.
Sign off by your Head of Department acts as an approval that the control measures listed within the risk assessment are adequate in relation to your trip.
There is a general risk assessment guide available online.
TheFieldwork Risk Assessment template itself has been pre-populated to an extent to help you detail the common control measures or arrangements that should be in place before you travel. It’s important that these details are added to or amended in relation to your specific itinerary.
Training can also be arranged to help you when completing risk assessments. The Legal Services and Health and Safety Assistant can be contacted to arrange this.
The University advises that staff consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Advice service for up to date travel information. The FCO will give guidance on any significant risks including recent security alerts, terrorist threats, areas of political instability or areas with a high crime rate.
The Government’s Know Before you Go website also contains general travel information about planning your trip, driving abroad as well as advice for specific groups and types of travel.
For destinations that may be considered medium- high risk, either because of their location or recent incidents, detailed risk reports are accessible via the University’s insurers that can inform the risk assessment process. Please contact the Legal Services and Health and Safety Assistant if you wish to access this service.
If you are travelling to a different country this will not be covered under the University’s insurance policy. If you are travelling within the country for a short period of private leisure time, this will be covered, though not if you are carrying out high risk pursuits such as extreme sports.
News reports and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should be accessed for information prior to your trip for safety and security information and in order to verify it is still considered a safe destination. You can also sign up for FCO email alerts or follow @FCOtravel on twitter to receive updates specific to your destination.
If there have been any major incidents or alerts issued for your destination prior to your departure you will need to ensure your risk assessment is updated to reflect this. In the case of significant risks, the Legal Services and Health and Safety Assistant or Insurance Officer should be contacted for further advice.
Yes, whilst there is always some inherent risk with any kind of travel and risk profiles for each country can change rapidly, most European travel can be classed as low risk especially when attending professional conferences, meetings held at other Universities etc.
Many health and safety precautions whilst abroad are the same as you should take as a stranger in any new town or city, so common sense can often be used to mitigate a lot of travel risks.
No. If you are travelling to the same destination, a review of the previous risk assessment to update travel details in line with your itinerary and to check the current Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice is sufficient. The date of the risk assessment should also be updated.
You should plan for emergencies as part of the risk assessment process and this normally includes finding out about the local emergency services available at your destination and keeping a note of the correct emergency number to call. If it is not an emergency but you require medical treatment you should ask a contact at your accommodation/ hotel reception or conference organisers for assistance. If you are working at another University, you should be provided with an emergency contact or first aid information on arrival.
If the event of an accident, you should contact the nominated contact at your host institution. They should have the local knowledge to be able to advise you. You also need to inform an appropriate contact at the University so the accident can be recorded.
If you require emergency medical attention whilst in Europe then you should use your EHIC card to access free medical treatment. If you need to change your travel plans, i.e. delay your departure flight, arrange an earlier flight to come home or delay your return because of health reasons then the AON protect number should be contacted from any country before rebooking any flights.
To apply for an EHIC card: https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/home.do
Your local British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission can offer a range of services if you need help for a non medical issue, for example if you lose your passport or are the victim of a crime whilst abroad. Also the University's insurers can be contacted direct if you need assistance in the event of lost or stolen mobile phone, laptop etc contact information is located on the insurance certificate obtained from the University Finance Office.
It’s important you contact the University's insurer in the event of an emergency, failure to do so could lead to seriously enhanced costs being incurred, which the University’s insurers may be entitled to curtail or even decline to pay.
This is at the discretion of your Head of Department. The University will not cover the costs of family travelling with you and they will not be included under the University’s insurance cover.
However payment for the trip is arranged does not alter the University’s duty of care and therefore the correct procedures i.e. completing a risk assessment, informing the Insurance Office would still need to be followed. This also applies if the trip is externally funded i.e. through a research grant.
Your own personal insurance will provide cover if need you medical attention or lose your luggage mobile phone etc but may not cover you for business travel. The University policy should be used for all business related travel to ensure you have adequate cover concerning your work activities whilst off site. There is worldwide coverage also include under the University’s insurance policy to cover travel and medical expenses.
A high profile event may alter and increase the risk associated with your destination but this isn't necessarily reason to cancel your trip. Depending on the purpose of your visit, you should check the usual guidance via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and if the security risks are dramatically heightened you could alter your itinerary accordingly, for example by delaying your arrival or avoiding the areas where the event is being held.