Seasoned field personnel – have you ever had a new hire ask to come to work in a tank top, shorts, and sandals, leaving you to explain what the appropriate clothing for the job is? It’s happened to us all. This emphasizes the need to be properly prepared and trained for whatever field situation you are entering.
As an environmental scientist, biologist, engineer, surveyor, driller or other profession that spends large amounts of time outdoors, you know how important it is to be prepared for the type of field situation you are working in. Your job could require you to be placed in a variety of outdoor settings, from extremely rural landscapes to highly developed urban areas. When it comes to wearing the right type of protective gear, the location of your field work will directly dictate what protection methods to use.
For example – if you find yourself in a rural setting, you may be most concerned with stinging and biting from insects, encountering wildlife, and rugged terrain. On the other hand, a more urban setting brings heavy traffic and large groups of people.
However, no matter your environment, being properly protected while out in the field requires fore-thought and planning. The following suggestions will aid in the mitigation of any concerns and help keep you safe:
- Complete a Job Safety Analysis form and file appropriately.
- Wear appropriate work clothing and shoes.
- Apply insect repellent and sunscreen in the appropriate manner.
- Be aware of your surroundings AT ALL TIMES
- Work in pairs, NEVER ALONE
- Have appropriate communication devices (cell phone, two-way radios)
- Carry a personal first aid kit, water, food, compass, and maps
- Prepare a plan for parking/access to areas of investigation
- Know where the nearest emergency facility is
- Above all USE COMMON SENSE
The above, by no means, is a complete list of items for field preparation. Make sure you analyze your specific job setting to prepare appropriately. Above all else, use common sense and tap into your past experiences to keep yourself, and others, protected in the field.