Lab and Field Safety Plans for UCLA EPSS


Laboratory education and research  is an important part of the experience of many members of the department.  The laboratory setting raises special safety and conduct considerations that must be taken into account.  We have reviewed material aimed at improving safety, inclusivity, and accessibility to the laboratory setting, and assembled a laboratory safety plan that is included below.  In assembling this plan, we have made use of existing guidelines for lab safety from UCLA EHS and have incorporated that information into this document. Included are recommended roles and expectations for researchers, required training for all UCLA employees, and resources relevant to both UCLA and EPSS to ensure personal and lab safety. This safety plan is relevant to all members of EPSS and should be read prior to conducting laboratory work on behalf of the department. 

Field education and research are fundamental to higher education in the geosciences, providing students with crucial training and experience for their professional or academic careers. At the same time, because they are off-campus and distinct from the typical work that occurs in a classroom or laboratory in location, duration, physical activity, accessibility, etc., there are unique safety and conduct considerations that must be taken into account. For students of color, students with disabilities, and other student groups, risks associated with fieldwork can be higher or distinct. Additionally, field programs that are not inclusive in their logistics or “camp culture” (whether intentionally or not) can make some students feel unwelcome, and/or impede their ability to continue with their progress towards a geoscience degree and career. We have reviewed material aimed at improving the safety, inclusivity, and accessibility of STEM field programs, and assembled field safety plans for both students and instructors, which are included at the end of this document. The resources used include our current departmental policies, field guidelines and resources from UCLA EH&S, published literature, and policies and discussions from departments at other universities. Both field safety plans include lists of relevant resources with links. Below we have outlined specific recommendations for change to departmental policy that arose from this effort and that relate to these field safety plans.

Proposals for change

Field Trip Logistics

  • Review our field safety plan in consultation with EPSS field faculty in consultation with the department’s DEI Committee for adoption by the department.  
  • Provide all participants, including instructors, TAs and students with the field safety plan and the EH&S safety plan at least two weeks prior to the first field trip of a class or research program and discuss the plan prior to departure.
  • Purchase additional field equipment for those who may not have it, or who do not have sufficient funds to purchase or rent it themselves.  The department currently has a stock of field equipment that can be borrowed, but it is limited and old.   
  • Require bystander intervention training for laboratory and field trip participants for faculty, TAs and students.
  • Add two items to the departmental document entitled: “UCLA EPSS Field Trip Policies”: 1) Procedures for reporting and dealing with incidents of bias/harrassment/bullying other than sexual harrassment (the document currently includes a section on sexual harassment.) 2) A link to the URGE Field Trip Safety Plan.
  • Remind labs to include DEI issues in regular lab safety discussions at the beginning of the academic year, to include all participants, including PIs, TAs, students, and visitors.

Other potential suggestions

  • Additional oversight of field trips by department/DEI committee/EH&S
  • Recommend or require additional training for field instructors and/or TAs
  • DEI coordinator distribute information or hold a session open to all department students to talk about field safety generally (rather than for a specific class field trip), to ensure students hear this important information
  • Anonymous field feedback form so the department can gauge the extent to which particular field trips were safe/inclusive/accessible/welcoming/etc. and be warned of any potential issues.

UCLA EPSS Pod Lab Safety Plan

Roles and expectations:


  • Conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner
  • Be respectful and give helpful, polite, and constructive criticism and feedback
  • Make sure to check the status of lab members’ required safety trainings and the status of permit regularly 
  • Acknowledge what an appropriate work-life balance looks like for each individual
  • Be a resource and provide clarity for any issues in the lab and for any anonymous reporting resources
  • Encourage and guide students toward academic, professional, and personal success


  • Conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner
  • Support and respect all peers and colleagues in the lab
  • Follow and meet agreed upon deadlines established with advisor
  • Make sure to complete the required safety trainings 
  • Let the building manager or advisor know if you will be in the building during holidays or after hours for safety purposes and mitigating risk

Laboratory Safety:

Required training for all UCLA employees:

  • Each laboratory safety plan must be approved by the UCLA EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety):
    • UC Policies on Lab Safety
    • Lab procedures, safety plan, and standard operating protocol (SOP) are made available in the lab and informed to lab members regularly
    • Labs are inspected annually or bi-annually by EH&S. Keep the records of lab Inspection reports and make available for lab members
  • Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Program
  • Cyber Security Awareness Training
  • Ethical Values and Conduct Training[MOU2] 
  • Physical and chemical safety
    • Adequate trainings specific for each research laboratory are required before starting lab work (e.g. radiation use, chemical hazards) 
    • Appropriate gear/PPE provided that is maintained up to code
    • All individuals in the lab will be trained appropriately for the research/work that they will be conducting and checked the training status periodically 
    • Emergency protocols must be established for each lab with information to the person of contact readily available
  • Interpersonal safety
    • Discuss Code of Conduct on a yearly basis
    • Discuss process for reporting hate/bias or misconduct
    • Provide resources and support (see an example of “Ten rules of an antiracist lab below)
    • If a researcher will be in the building during campus closures (e.g. winter break), he/she/they must notify the research lab’s advisor/principal investigator (PI) or person of contact.


o   If a researcher finds himself/herself/themselves in the laboratory after hours and needs assistance coming home at nights, evening escorts may be requested through UCLA Community Service Officers fifteen minutes prior to walking through the number (310) 794 – WALK

  • EPSS Building Manager

o   Eric Wessenauer

o   Email:

o   Phone: 310.825.1420

o   Office: 3686B Geology

Ten Simple Rules for Building an Antiracist Lab

Chaudhary and Berhe (2020)

  1. Lead informed discussions about antiracism in your lab regularly 
  2. Address racism in your lab and field safety guidelines
  3. Publish papers and write grants with BIPOC colleagues
  4. Evaluate your labs mentoring practices
  5. Amplify voices of BIPOC scientists in your field
  6. Support BIPOC in their efforts to organize
  7. Intentionally recruit BIPOC students and staff
  8. Adopt a dynamic research agenda
  9. Advocate for racially diverse leadership in science
  10. Hold the powerful accountable and don’t expect gratitude

UCLA EPSS Pod Field Instruction Safety Plan – For Students


This document is a resource for students participating in any field trip in one of their courses, and should be consulted prior to the field trip. It provides a list of things to consider and review. These are general resources and guidelines; the specifics of field trips can vary widely, and your instructor can inform you about specific plans and considerations for each trip. Your instructor may have their own field trip policies or instructions as well. Instructor-specific policies and instructions supplement those of UCLA and the department, but can never overrule them: UCLA and department policies, including those regarding safety and appropriate conduct (below), are in full effect at all times during all field trips. 

Official Policies, Guidelines, and Documents for UCLA EPSS Field Trips

Preparations Prior to Trip

  • Prior to any field trip, students should complete the emergency medical form, and sign the liability waiver and the departmental code of conduct.
  • Field trips are not conducted in locations thought to be dangerous. However, there are some risks associated with fieldwork, such as sun exposure, chance of rattlesnake encounter, etc. Additionally, at gas, restroom, and food stops and sometimes while on public lands, you will encounter people from outside the UCLA community, some of whom could behave in inappropriate or offensive ways. While driving through communities to and from field sites, there may be offensive signage or emblems on display. You are encouraged to discuss any potential safety concerns with instructors, TAs, or the department administration at any time prior to, during, or after a field trip.
  • Whereas most field trips do not travel near the international border between the United States and Mexico, when a trip does, U.S. Border Patrol agents and checkpoints may be encountered even when the border itself is not being crossed, and all participants that do not have U.S. citizenship must carry required documentation. 
  • Depending on the field trip, you may be hiking and may be camping, in which case you are typically expected to bring your own personal hiking and camping gear (boots, water bottles, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, flashlight, etc.). Shared equipment (cooking stoves, cookware, lanterns, water jugs, etc.) is typically provided by the department. Instructors, TAs, and other students in the department can help answer questions about what gear you should bring and where you can get it. An alternative to purchasing gear is to rent it from Outdoor Adventures, which is part of UCLA Rec and located on campus in the Wooden Center (see “Rental Center” at:
  • When camping, facilities at the campground could range from bathrooms and showers with running water, to no running water and pit toilets with locking doors, to undeveloped campsites with no amenities. Your instructor can provide information on where you will be staying and any facilities present. If running water is not present, sufficient water will be brought for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing, etc. The department has portable, sun-heated showers with privacy walls that can be brought on trips. These are not always packed by default for weekend-length trips, so you may wish to ensure one is brought if you wish to use one.
  • For campsites and field areas without restroom facilities, you might consider bringing toiletries and hygenic products, such as waterless hand soap/hand sanitizer and toilet paper (please pack out all used toilet paper, as well as wipes, tampons, etc.; alternatively, bring biodegradable toilet paper which can typically be buried). Those who menstruate might consider bringing menstrual hygiene products such as menstrual cups. Those who squat to urinate might consider bringing a urinal funnel.
  • Shopping opportunities during the trip may be limited or absent. Unless told otherwise, plan to bring everything needed for the trip (aside from the shared departmental gear). Even if a trip stops at a store, its inventory may be limited, and may lack various products, such as medical supplies, foods compatible with certain dietary restrictions, menstrual products, or products for natural hair. Your instructor can tell you what shopping opportunities, if any, you can expect during a field trip.

Staying Safe in the Field

  • Make sure you are drinking enough water before, during, and after field work, and always carry enough water in the field.
  • Always have at least one other member of the trip within sight or hearing distance at all times, and who knows where you are. If you need to move away from other trip members for privacy, let someone know first.
  • Drive safely and carefully at all times, and make sure you and everyone else in your vehicle are wearing seatbelts whenever the vehicle is in motion.
  • Watch out for signs of heat illness, and if you begin to feel overheated, let someone know and take appropriate steps (water, shade, rest, vehicle air conditioning).

Injuries or Emergencies in the Field

  • In case of a medical emergency, immediately notify an instructor or TA, so the victim can receive proper medical treatment as quickly and safely as possible. In case of minor injuries, first aid kits are available in all vehicles.

Student, Instructor, and TA Conduct During Field Trips

  • UCLA’s policies and conduct codes remain in full effect throughout field trips, and all trip participants must abide by them. No one is above or excepted from this. Students and TAs must adhere to the UCLA Student Conduct Code at all times ( Instructors must adhere to the UCLA Faculty Code of Conduct at all times. All trip participants must adhere to the departmental conduct code, and act appropriately and respectfully to all other trip participants.
  • Any inappropriate or unsafe behavior by any member of the trip (whether students, instructors, TAs, researchers, or guests) should be brought to the attention of an instructor or TA as soon as possible. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe for any reason, please do not hesitate to speak with an instructor or TA.
  • Instructors and TAs are Responsible Employees, and therefore required to report sexual violence, sexual harassment or other conduct prohibited by the policy to the Title IX director or designee.
  • Inappropriate behavior during the field trip should be reported to the relevant office. 
  • Reminders to field trip participants about rules of respect for found artifacts, like arrowheads.

After the Field Trip

  • Field trips often do not return to campus until after dark. If you would like an escort back to your residence by a UCLA campus security officer (CSO), you can request one easily at no charge:


UCLA EPSS Pod Field Instruction Safety Plan – For Instructors


This document is a resource that should be consulted by faculty before leading any field trip in one of their courses. It provides a list of things to consider and review. The first section is a compilation of official policies, guidelines, and documents governing UCLA EPSS field trips. The remaining sections provide considerations and recommendations compiled from a variety of sources, including official UCLA documents and webpages, publications by AGU and other professional geoscience organizations, the URGE curriculum and deliverables by URGE pods from several other universities, and experiences of and discussions among EPSS field instructors and EPSS URGE pod members. Some of these sources are included as links throughout the document and in the “Resources” section at the end.

Official Policies, Guidelines, and Documents for UCLA EPSS Field Trips

Instructor Preparations Prior to Trip

  • Instructor should be familiar with the departmental resources and policies for field trips: 
  • Field sites should be visited by faculty before bringing students there, and potential risks should be assessed, particularly considering students of color, students with disabilities, and other student groups for whom risks may be higher or distinct. A pdf with some potential hazards to consider is available at under “Assess Potential Field Hazards.” 
  • A field safety plan should be completed and filed well in advance of the trip. All instructors, trip leaders, and TAs should be provided a copy of the completed field safety plan for reference. A template is available at under “Create a Written Field Safety Plan.”
  • Instructors and TAs should familiarize themselves with the locations and contents of first aid kits, and the location and operation of fire extinguishers and other emergency equipment (such as emergency satellite beacons).
  • Trips should be preceded by appropriate planning and training: see chapters 1 and 2 of the UC Field Operations Safety Manual:
  • Consider bringing one of the departmental sun showers on all overnight trips, so that students can maintain whatever level of cleanliness they prefer.

Discussions with Class Prior to Trip

  • Field trip plans should be shared with all potential participants more than a week in advance of the trip, to give students time to prepare and to minimize anxiety. Information on potential natural hazards (e.g., rattlesnakes, ticks, poison oak, high temperatures, mosquitos, etc.) should be provided. The availability of toilets and opportunities for purchasing toiletries and sanitary items should be made clear so students can plan accordingly.
  • Safe and appropriate conduct in the field should be discussed prior to the trip. Expectations should be clearly set, and policies indicated. The UCLA Student Code of Conduct and the departmental conduct code should be referenced. Chapter 4 of the UC Field Operations Safety Manual contains an “Effective Communication” section with helpful advice on creating a safe learning environment, and includes an example script for how to lead an effective, inclusive, and interactive discussion with an undergraduate class on student conduct and creating a safe learning environment:
  • Students should sign the departmental code of conduct and the field trip policies form, as well as liability waivers, and should complete their emergency contact forms. All these forms should be collected and a copy of emergency contact forms should be filed with the front office.
  • Students should be encouraged to ask questions or share any concerns they have prior to the trip, either in class or confidentially.
  • Drivers should be solicited and signed up with and approved by the department in advance. Sufficient drivers should be signed up to allow drivers to trade off. Building Manager Eric Wessenauer ( can provide details, forms, etc. for driver registration, and these forms should be submitted to him.

Travel to and from the Field

  • Ensure safe driving practices across your caravan. All drivers should be signed up with and approved by the department prior to the trip. Speak with your drivers prior to departure about safe driving and caravan practices. The department has guidelines for field trip driving, including best practices for caravaning and for driving on unpaved roads.
  • For departmental vehicles, ensure that vehicles are inspected and that the status of the vehicle (oil level, tire pressure, etc.) is recorded in each vehicle’s binder at both the beginning and end of the field trip, as well as approximately once a week during multi-week trips.
  • Consider where you are driving through and stopping for restroom breaks, fuel, food, etc., and whether these places are safe, comfortable, and accessible for all students, including students of color, students with disabilities, and other student groups for whom risks may be higher or distinct. Even if the field area is safe, some of the areas and communities you pass through may not be.
  • Be aware that trips near the international border between the United States and Mexico may encounter and be questioned by U.S. Border Patrol officers and checkpoints, even if still tens of miles from the border itself. Such encounters could be particularly uncomfortable or unsafe for international students and students of color. Any trip members that lack United States citizenship can be detained and even deported if not carrying required documentation, and will likely be subject to questioning even with this paperwork. If possible, avoid traveling this close to the border, and if not, warn students of this possibility and remind them to bring any required documentation.
  • Make regular restroom breaks. Where possible, make these breaks at facilities with running water. Make it clear to all trip participants that you are happy to stop whenever requested, and encourage them to speak up when a restroom break is desired. Keep in mind that various factors can impact the frequency with which an individual requires such breaks, and that students may hydrate insufficiently if they are worried about this, making them less safe in the field. Those who squat to urinate or those who are menstruating may not be able to take restroom breaks in the field as privately, conveniently, or hygienically as other students. More information on restroom considerations for field trips can be found here, and is worth reading:

Instructor, TA, and Student Conduct During Field Trips

  • For injuries and other medical situations, see Chapter 3 of the UC Field Operations Safety Manual:
  • Instructors must adhere to the UCLA Faculty Code of Conduct at all times, and should model appropriate behavior during the field trip. TAs and Students must adhere to the UCLA Student Conduct Code at all times ( All trip participants must adhere to the EPSS guidelines for field trips (, and act appropriately and respectfully to all other trip participants.
  • Instructors and TAs are Responsible Employees, and therefore required to report sexual violence, sexual harassment or other conduct prohibited by the policy to the Title IX director or designee.
  • Be aware that the off-campus nature of field trips, the personal time in camp before and after the schoolwork of the day, and consumption of alcohol all increase the risk of sexual misconduct, offensive statements, and other forms of misconduct. TAs should also be aware of this. Instructors should seek to help establish and maintain an appropriate class culture throughout the trip, and be on the lookout for any inappropriate behavior.
  • If conflict arises during a field trip, instructors should attempt to resolve it. Advice for doing so can be found in Chapter 4 of the UC Field Operations Safety Manual:
  • Inappropriate behavior should be reported to the relevant office. 
  • Add a section about international field work and/or make a separate document? Claudia sent around a link to a whole book recently published about conducting field work internationally. We could also link to other URGE pods’ documents that cover some of these considerations?