Access the EH&S Field Safety web page

Biological Hazards

There are many field operations or situations that have the potential to expose researchers to infectious substances. The University of California at Santa Barbara has an Occupational Health & Safety Program (OHSP) to identify and assess biological hazards for field research. The OHSP is important even under circumstances in which principal investigators are not required to document safety controls in a biological use authorization approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), nor to identify human health hazards in an animal use protocol approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

Examples of Potentially Infectious Field Procedures That Are Not Subject to IACUC Oversight:

  • Urine and feces collection from wild animals
  • Necropsy of wild animals
  • Toxigenic algal blooms
  • Collection of insects

Biological Specimens and Exposure Control

The IACUC may require that the principal investigator consult with an Occupational Health Physician for a risk assessment in cases in which an approved protocol is not required, but there is a risk of exposure to zoonoses. UCSB contracts with Sansum Occupational Medicine for review of research-related health risk assessments and recommendations. If the research will be conducted in rural areas abroad, the physician may suggest that the participant consult a travel physician. For more information, contact the IACUC Coordinator x5855.

Environmental Health and Safety recommends a creating a written exposure control plan to document the controls that will be used to mitigate or prevent exposures to pathogens that may be encountered. The exposure control plan should cover controls for specimen collection, containment and transportation, transfer and storage, and waste disposal. For additional guidance on developing an exposure control plan, contact the Campus Biosafety Officer at campus extension x8894.

Physical Hazards

UCSB offers a diverse array of field studies programs in locations all over the world. The principal investigator or program coordinator leading the study should be an authority on specific information about the types of physical hazards there, as well as the ways to prevent injury or harm. The online Field Safety Operational Planning tool is intended to address possible risks specifically associated with field research and foreign travel. The tool is designed to assist you in the creation of your own customized field/foreign operations plan.  For more information, contact the Field Operational Administrator at campus extension x8243.