Field Research Safety

The dynamic nature of field work at MIT requires our field researchers to appropriately plan for potential environment, health and safety hazards and emergencies.


Planning and Preparation

Field research, field studies, or fieldwork is an essential component of several academic programs at the Institute. These activities may be for just a day or for an extended length of time and may take you to local, international, urban or rural environments, a few miles from your office or across the globe. Undergoing careful planning and preparation for such dynamic work can help you when you encounter potential hazards and emergencies.  Risk can be reduced through planning, awareness of potential hazards, following best practices, and exercising good judgement.


A successful field research project may require extensive planning.  For any activity occurring in potentially hazardous environmental conditions or where potentially hazardous materials and/or equipment will be used, the Environment, Health and Safety Office (EHS) is available to assist in determining your field research safety needs.  Please contact EHS or call us at 617-452-3477 to review requirements for:


  • MIT EHS trainings 
  • Local permits and research registration, which must be obtained by the PI
  • Personal protective equipment which may require extra planning for purchase
  • Policies and procedures related to emergency preparedness
  • Safe storage, use, and disposal of hazardous materials


Planning for International Travel

The International Coordinating Committee (ICC)  provides resources that guide MIT faculty, researchers, students, and staff in planning, negotiating, and implementing international activities.  Their Traveling Abroad section is a collection of administrative resources to help ensure that your international travel is a success.  Other important resources include;


  • The Program Manager for International Safety and Security will provide advice and resources for mitigating travel risks as well as reviewing the policy and processes relating to High-risk travel.


  • MIT Medical Department’s Travel Health Clinic will assist in providing advice and obtaining appropriate immunizations and prescriptions. 


  • The Office of Insurance will help with documentation for confirmation of health insurance required for visa requests and obtaining additional international health insurance, if needed.




Planning for Collaborative Research

If your research will take you to facilities outside of MIT or to other institutions, it is important that you are familiar with local safety policies and emergency preparedness procedures. The host facility is responsible for reviewing their emergency plan with you so that you can react accordingly in the event of an emergency.


If you will be entering your host facility’s laboratories you should be provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment and safety training for any potentially hazardous materials such as biological, radiological or chemical. It is important that you reach out to your host facility early in the planning process so that you are aware of their requirements and expectations.


Additional Resources

MIT EHS has compiled resources to help you in preparing for your field research:


Hazard Fact Sheets {these resources are currently under development}


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