Safety Issues for Principal Investigators


When in the field, the principal investigator bears the same responsibilities as a field worker and may take on the responsibility of being the field supervisor or may choose to leave the regular field supervisor in charge. When not in the field, the principal investigator should make a reasonable effort to ensure that the people for whom they are directly accountable work in compliance with this field research safety policy and are provided with the necessary safety training and equipment.


The principal investigator is responsible for:

  • Aiding the field supervisor with determining the specific health and safety risks and the level of risk associated with the particular field project.
  • Approving the composition of the field team and establishing a clear chain of responsible team leadership that is understood by all participants.
  • Providing a pre-trip planning session that includes a briefing on the specific nature of the trip, a review of the Safety Plan and a post-trip debriefing session.
  • Documenting that each field worker is aware of the provisions of this policy, the risks of the particular project, and the appropriate controls and safety procedures in place.
  • Documenting that each field worker is made aware of the specific risks associated with the field research and the specific requirements for participation (e.g. safety training, visas, immunizations, health insurance requirements) and, where applicable, obtain written, informed consent from the participants or a completed, signed waiver from all volunteer participants in the field research.
  • Ensuring that the appropriate controls and safety procedures are implemented, including the provision of appropriate protective equipment, procedures and training, to deal with the risks as far as is reasonably practicable.