Fieldwork Policy

This fieldwork policy is intended to be reviewed before
every field deployment and modified on an as needed basis.
As such, this document will change over time.

The intention of this fieldwork policy is to set into words the requirements, boundaries, and solutions to real and potential problems that occur before, during, and after fieldwork deployment. Our hope is that these policies, when implemented, will generate safer and more equitable field programs starting from the development stage. This current policy will lay the groundwork for what hopefully becomes standard fieldwork practice, not just within PGG or LDEO, but in the wider scientific community. We understand that this framework will need to be amended for every working group and / or every field team. As such, we hope this acts as a baseline for future field deployment development.



Fieldwork Development

During the budgeting process of the intended field program, funding must be set aside for participant training and education; in addition to, required potential single-use gear (i.e. bear spray, mosquito netting, adequate sleeping bags, etc.), fieldwork specific equipment, travel cost, emergency evacuation cost, and more. It is highly recommended to review the Fieldwork Risk Assessment Checklist which is required for pre-deployment. 

If field equipment is available on-site for practical review and training, funding should be set aside to train participants with hands-on experience. Successful applications of this are the ROSETTA-Ice Project QC Camp which occurred 2-3 months prior to deployment. For 1 (one) week at a central location, most if not all of the field team gathered to focus on fieldwork preparation: P.I.s described the proposed science; fieldwork coordinators explained the deployment timeline, schedule, participant responsibilities, location requirements, and more; participants worked through equipment procedures, troubleshooting techniques, and deployment of instruments. This successfully prepared the field team for deployment with ample time. Budget set aside for something like this is recommended.




In the year or month leading up to field deployment, coordinators are required to review the Fieldwork Risk Assessment Checklist. This checklist anticipates as many potential field risks as possible in order to plan solutions when possible. Where solutions cannot be provided, these risks must be clearly identified for all fieldwork participants. This checklist, when completed, must be sent to all fieldwork participants or presented at the required pre-deployment meeting. 

A Deployment Packet must be created for the field location. This packet should include information regarding the various deployment locations, such as: culture, demographics, emergency services, accessibility, communication access, safety hazards, lodging, basic accommodations, etc. Examples of deployment packages may be found on internal drives. 

The Pre-Deployment Meeting must be attended in-person or virtually by all project participants, including, but not limited to, project PIs. This deployment meeting must present participants with the following:

Pre-Deployment Meeting Agenda:

This meeting should be held a minimum of 6-8 weeks prior to deployment to allow any and all participants to weigh their options and decide whether or not they are comfortable / willing to deploy. Any and all field team members who decide they cannot or no longer wish to participate, should be allowed to withdraw without repercussion or fear of retaliation. A willing replacement must be found, trained, and informed within the timeframe prior to deployment.



During Fieldwork

It is important to ensure that each team member is safe for the duration of the fieldwork. Safety in the field is multifaceted and includes a number of items such as interactions with cold weather, driving, handling dangerous equipment, interacting with fellow team members, interacting with people outside your field team, and overall health and wellness. In order to have a successful field campaign, keeping each other safe is vital.

The following is a list of best practices that were put together by PGG team members based on things that have worked in the field in the past to keep team members safe.

Best Practices During Fieldwork:

  • Wear team clothing or equivalent ‘uniform’ when relevant 
  • Use high visibility vests when possible / relevant
  • Explicitly state the reporting structure within this type of fieldwork environment
  • Discuss at length the working relationship with other fieldwork participants who aren’t from PGG/LGG/LDEO
  • Ensure awareness of the rubric for managing and reporting incidents that arise during fieldwork (while being aware that internet access is not always available)
  • Ensure participants can be evacuated at no cost to themselves. This includes the following acceptable reasons: 
    • If the participant feels a Title VII or Title IX violation has occurred and wants to return to town, base, or home for safety reasons and/or to file a complaint.
    • If the participant feels they are experiencing a medical emergency
  • Explicitly state that all field safety rights can and will be exercised without retaliation or adverse effect on the participant – particularly an early career scientist or student’s academic career.
  • Discuss ways to manage stress and frustration for when things go wrong (i.e. mechanical difficulties, weather delays, etc.) in a healthy manner
  • Discuss ways to manage exhaustion and exhaustion empathy when working long hours for many days in a row
  • Ensure ample rest and fuel for field team members:
    • Schedule days off for team members, if possible
    • Require allowance for a full night’s rest (at least 7-8 hours when permitting)
    • Make sure team members get three full meals a day, plus available snacks
    • Make sure team members are properly hydrated and have access to potable water
    • Access to caffeinated beverages for those who require them
  • Ensure access to bathroom facilities
    • Do all that can be done to promote privacy
  • Ensure the team members have access to a communication device at all times (i.e. internet, telephone, satellite phone, radio, etc.)
  • If training is required to use the satellite phone or radio, ensure all team members receive this training. 
  • If emergency contact information is specific to the field location, ensure this information is added to the Fieldwork Safety Form and distributed to every team member.




Field team participants are expected to fill out the PGG Post-Fieldwork Survey, which acts as an exit interview for the fieldwork. These survey results will be reviewed in order to improve future fieldwork deployments.

A Post-Deployment meeting is required within the months following the fieldwork. The date can be scheduled at the field coordinator’s discretion; however, the meeting should be held once all results from the Post-Fieldwork Survey are in, or the deadline for submission has passed. These results should be reviewed and discussed with discretion. Additionally, PIs and fieldwork participants should discuss successes and failures of the survey. Any preliminary scientific discoveries should also be casually presented. While this meeting is not formal, it should be treated as the final requirement to close out the deployment / field program.



Ongoing Policy Revision

This Fieldwork Policy is not final. It will be subject to evaluation/review before and after each field season and updated as required. We acknowledge that it is specific to PGG/LGG field programs.

No post-fieldwork survey exists at Lamont. We hope this will be added for all fieldwork across campus in the future. We hope to use our survey as an example to present to the Lamont administration as a framework for successfully providing safer field deployments across all disciplines. The advantage of this form is that team members from any Lamont field program will be able to submit incidents anonymously, which “will allow Lamont to track field experiences and identify any persistent patterns.” (LDEO Code of Conduct)