Proposal Form for Outdoor Field Research
The location of outdoor field research makes virus transmission less likely, however the need to remain physically close to co-workers for safety and communication in certain environments poses unique challenges. For fieldwork that is indoors (e.g., home visits) or in an enclosed community location (e.g., shelters, schools) virus transmission is more likely than outdoors. At this time, the University will NOT be approving any proposals that involve staying overnight at a remote location without access to running water. Due to the need for additional sanitation measures during the pandemic, such a situation presents an untenable level of risk.
Principle Investigators (PIs) must use their best judgement when deciding if indoor or outdoor field work is safe and feasible. Specifically, the PI must consider the following factors:
- The location of the field site: field sites in urban or suburban areas with reliable cell phone reception and proximity to safety personnel are different than remote or isolated locations where an accident or injury would be difficult to treat or address in a timely fashion. Even in the absence of a pandemic, more remote or densely populated locations are inherently riskier.
- Transportation to and from the field site: it is common for field workers to utilize group transportation (carpool, shared boat, public transportation) to reach a study area. If a study area cannot be reached safely, the study proposal may not be approved.
- The type of work being conducted: physical work that requires multiple individuals in close proximity in dense vegetation or densely settled areas is different than multiple workers collecting data in parallel in an open area.
- Sharing of equipment: if multiple workers are required, the PI must ensure that everyone has their own equipment that only they use for the duration of the data collection interval until the items can be adequately sanitized.
Generally, collecting field data alone is discouraged. Even in populated areas, accidents may occur, and a solo individual may be unable to locate or call for assistance. Thus, in all cases, field researchers must notify their department chair and the director of OEHS of when and where they plan to conduct their field research, as required in the proposal below. PIs must also check in and out via phone call or text each day if working alone. Communicating this information is vital to ensuring the safety of those working in outdoor environments which are inherently unpredictable. If fieldwork is conducted with human subjects, check-in/check-out protocols must be established and approved by the IRB.
Plans will be reviewed, and approvals given, on a rolling basis as they are received, with the understanding that plans may need to be modified as conditions at the University and in the Community evolve. You are required to include any permits and/or IACUC approvals necessary to complete this work with this proposal.
Any field work-related proposals that involve multiple workers will be revisited as conditions change and their approval will be contingent on compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. COVID-19 training will be required for personnel wishing to resume research activity. Adherence to general guidelines, trainings, protocols for self-monitoring and health attestations using CoVerified, as mandated by the Suffolk Safe Actions For Employee Return (SAFER) Committee, is also required.