Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Health, Safety and Well-being

In this Section:

This section contains health and safety information and guidance that is relevant across the whole Faculty for staff and students alike.

We recommend you do not download forms and guidance to your hard drive permanently. Over time, documents may change slightly as we add amendments and improvements.

If you require additional advice on any subject, please contact your local Health and Safety Co-ordinator in the first instance or, alternatively, the Faculty Health and Safety Manager.

Office-based Activities

Generic Risk Assessment

This Generic Risk Assessment (GRA) is intended to be primarily a management tool and reference document.

Aide Memoire

This Aide Memoire is the key document for staff and is intended for inclusion in School Handbooks, and as a guide for induction and information for all new and existing members of staff.

Fieldwork Definition

The University defines Fieldwork as “any activity carried out by staff and students for the purpose of their teaching or research as a member of the University of Leeds representing the institution off-site.” Activities associated with the term fieldwork include data collection, surveys, social surveys, interviews, archaeological digs, environmental and biological collection, residential trips, and short organised trips for taught students to public sites, for example, the British Library, York Minster etc.

Please note: the definition includes Fieldwork activities carried out in home countries e.g. dissertation research completed in the students home country.

ESSL Fieldwork activities

ESSL fieldwork generally includes, social research, data gathering in various settings both in the UK and overseas prison visits; science field trips for PGCE students, dissertations, projects UK and overseas. 

What is NOT Fieldwork?

For staff and PGR’s, fieldwork does not generally include “minimal risk activities” off campus such as business trips, meetings, seminars or conferences. Please note there are differing procedures for UK and non UK based travel see below. 

UK based “minimal risk activities”

E.g. Business trips, meetings, seminars or conferences

NON UK based “minimal risk activities”

E.g. Business trips, meetings, seminars or conferences


  1. Follow any local School level agreed procedures for planned travel
  1. It is compulsory to complete the ESSL Minimal Risk Activities Checklist27.
  2. It is also compulsory to check FCO advice and where the FCO advises against ‘all but essential or all travel’ then it falls within the definition of Fieldwork and the Travel against FCO advice procedure

For students (taught), fieldwork does include meetings and conferences off campus in the UK and abroad

Fieldwork does not include Student Placements or Study Abroad activities – these are covered by Placements and Study Abroad protocols respectively.

Why do we need to manage/ risk assess Fieldwork?

Fieldwork is considered an essential part of University life, enabling and inspiring staff and students’ academic and personal development. The University must however fulfil their duty of care to protect staff and students and others; the Fieldwork protocol is designed to help achieve this.  If Fieldwork is undertaken without following this procedure then there can be serious implications for the participants’ e.g. the individual’s health and safety, invalidated insurance cover, not being able to use research gathered for dissertations.

What about Ethical Approval?

The Fieldwork Assessment process focusses on managing the health and safety risks of Fieldwork; ethical approval is quite different although the process will often require completion of a Fieldwork Assessment. Information about Ethical approval can be found www.leeds.ac.uk/ethics

What about research proposals?

At the planning stage of any research proposal where risk assessments are required and if the research involves Fieldwork then a Fieldwork Assessment should be completed. It is highly likely that not all details will be available at this early stage but as much information as possible should be provided in the Assessment to help identify the level of associated risk and necessary control measures / additional costs.

Who should write Fieldwork Assessments?

The person with responsibility for developing and writing the Assessment is most commonly the ‘organiser’. Within each School this role should be carried out by the most appropriate person in the individual circumstances. For many research related activities the organiser and participant are often one and the same person working on the Assessment in collaboration with their academic supervisor, PI, colleagues and others e.g. Health and Safety Co-ordinator and Health and Safety Manager. Also see ESSL Roles & responsibilities

The role of the “Organiser”

Whoever is deemed to be the ‘organiser’ is responsible for completing the Fieldwork Assessment therefore they must:-

  • Ensure Fieldwork Assessments are carried out using the appropriate approved form, to a good standard well in advance. Referring to Guidance for organisers and other help and guidance resources. Last minute rushed submissions are strongly discouraged.
  • Where fieldwork involves travel to locations where the FCO advice is against ‘all but essential’ or ‘all travel’ ensure that the Travel against FCO advice procedure is followed and high level approvals obtained well in advance. 
  • Monitor any changes to FCO advice e.g. subscribe to the FCO e-mail update service, monitor news reports etc. should a situation develop take action and seek advice from your University contact/s
  • Ensure that those involved in Fieldwork activities and or Risk Assessment are competent and have received adequate training see Fieldwork Training

  • Retain a copy of the Fieldwork Assessment and associated documentation locally and ensure the ESSL Approvals & sign off procedures are followed.

  • Report any accidents/incidents etc. that occur during Fieldwork activities in line with the University protocol  University Accident Incident Protocol

Which Form should I use?

It is impossible to be definitive about which form to complete; it depends upon the level of risk likely to be encountered during the activity e.g. location, country, subject matter, methodology, environmental conditions, participants, researcher or trip leader experience, knowledge and skills. If in doubt contact HSC or HSM for advice.

As a guide:-

  • The High Risk ESSL Fieldwork form must be used for Fieldwork / travel to countries or regions where the FCO advice is against ‘all but essential’ or ‘all travel’ or where any significant risks are likely to be encountered.
  • The Low Risk ESSL Fieldwork form is rarely used and is unlikely to be adequate for research activities but might be sufficient for a low risk UG student fieldtrip e.g. visiting Courts in London.
  • The ESSL Minimal Risk Activities Checklist should only be used by Staff, PGR’s engaged in minimal risk off campus activities outside the UK** E.g. Brief business trips, meetings, seminars or conferences. The purpose of this is to inform the University of your plans / location should there be a need for contact e.g. terrorist incident, accident etc. to enable support to be provided

**Unless subject to FCO advisories – in which case the High Risk ESSL Fieldwork form must be used.

The role of the School (Fieldwork) Health & Safety Co-ordinator

Within ESSL this role is usually performed by School Health and Safety Co-ordinators; their role is to:

  • Assist the Head of School (HoS) and Health and Safety Manager (HSM) to communicate information regarding the risk management of Fieldwork within the School / area 
  • Receive completed Fieldwork Assessments / Minimal Risk Checklists from the organiser
  • Check the quality and completeness of the Assessments and Checklists and raise any concerns with the organiser, HoS or HSM
  • Ensure Fieldwork Assessments are “signed off” by Head of School or delegated person
  • Be contactable for general advice and support and in the event of an emergency – implementing School emergency procedures if necessary
  • Provide support and advice with the Fieldwork Assessment /Checklist process as appropriate
  • Collate emergency contact details for participants
  • Collate and locally retain Fieldwork Assessments/ Checklists and associated documentation
  • Have a system for locating/ contacting School staff and students who are away on Fieldwork or out of the UK engaged in Minimal Risk Activities (University Business related only).

Zika virus – advice and guidance

The University has issued guidance to staff and students considering travel to areas affected by the Zika virus.


Summary document

This document provides a one page overview of inspection process and key points.

Formal annual inspections: guidance

This document provides more reference detail for heads of school and safety co-ordinators etc.


This document can be used during the inspection as a prompt.

Jenny Love - POLIS - J.L.Love@leeds.ac.uk

Jodie Dyson – SSP - j.c.dyson@leeds.ac.uk

Amanda Hemingway – Law - a.t.hemingway@kleeds.ac.uk

Fiona Scarth – Education - F.Scarth@leeds.ac.uk

C Roberts – Faculty Office - c.r.roberts@leeds.ac.uk

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