Wananga landing Wananga landing

Planning Fieldwork in Assura

24 March 2024

Field activities extend and enrich classroom teaching and learning and are one of the distinctive characteristics of study and an integral part of both teaching and research at the University of Canterbury.

The health and safety of staff, visitors, students and others is of paramount importance.

The following information will guide you on our Assura Workflow for fieldwork, discussing important information that should be considered when undertaking Fieldwork

Please note: this page is under development, please reach out to for any feedback


The workflow scales based on the complexity of the fieldwork and the risk level the fieldwork creates.

  • The key risk factors determine what sections of the workflow are visible and need to be completed 

  • The fieldwork risk level determines the approval process, represented by the workflow states that are visible that the workflow needs to be progressed through to be approved

  • Each workflow state has an action officer who is the only person who can edit the workflow (if editable in that state) and decide to progress the workflow to the next state (an approval or submission) or move back to a previous state (to decline approval) 

  • Workflow roles have been defined, either organisationally or by faculty or school, and for some states are automatically assigned as the default action officer

Key workflow features are listed below 

  • If the plan type is course related fieldwork, the participant list will be automatically populated with students enrolled in the course when the workflow is saved

  • If the plan is medium or high risk, it will need to be approved by a fieldwork approver. To become a fieldwork leader the declaration form here will need to be completed, and approved by an executive leader. 

  • For outdoor fieldwork, the fieldwork leader competencies as well as qualifications and experience are displayed. The fieldwork leader competencies are self-assessed and can be entered here.

  • If medical declarations are required, either by selecting medium risk with declarations, or high risk, persons on the participant list will be automatically notified when the plan reaches the review state and prompted to complete a health declaration and consent form. Once this form is completed, it will remain valid for subsequent fieldwork for the remainder of the calendar year, for any other fieldwork requiring a health declaration. 

  • Security features limit access to medical declarations to the owner of the declaration, fieldwork coordinators, and the fieldwork leaders of a fieldwork plan - after access is approved by the fieldwork coordinator. This process has been approved by a privacy impact assessment.

  • When the plan is in the approved state, a downloadable predeparture checklist is available, for the leader to use as a hardcopy to complete predeparture checks. The completed form can be uploaded before the workflow is moved to the complete state. 

  • Notifications are automatically sent by email when the workflow moves between states and provide the action officer with a link to the workflow. Participants will also receive a notification and a copy of the plan when the plan reaches the approved state.

  • An action log at the bottom of the workflow pages displays a record of workflow actions 

Planning Fieldwork in Assura

A fieldwork plan record is created once first saved. The plan can be then edited and updated and progress on the plan saved.

The person with rights to edit the plan is denoted as the ‘action officer’ at the bottom of the page.

The ‘fieldwork risk level’ field determines which states that the workflow must progress through to be approved. When you select the risk level for your fieldwork plan and then save the available states will change.

Low risk fieldwork can be self-approved. This requires a confirmation that risk has been assessed and is documented in the plan.

Medium risk fieldwork can be selected with or without a requirement for students to have completed medical declaration and consent forms.

If medical declarations are required, check a justification box. When the plan is submitted it will go to the fieldwork coordinator, who will approve or decline access to health declaration records. If approved the workflow will assigned the plan to the fieldwork leader and a link to health declaration records will be available. When the leader is satisfied, they have all the relevant information they can submit the plan for approval

High risk fieldwork requires medical declarations. The plan will go through states additional to medium risk: risk and insurance and executive approval.

Detail on how the risk level should be determined is discussed in the Risk management and Approval section

Fieldwork leader

The role of the fieldwork leader is to leader fieldwork per the fieldwork plan, to achieve the objectives of the plan and to ensure the health and safety of fieldwork participants and others.

The fieldwork leader field is defaulted to the person who creates the plan but can be edited by the person creating the plan so that they can assign a leader for a plan.

Self-declared fieldwork competency: If the fieldwork location and activity involves work in an outdoor unmanaged environment, then the fieldwork plan will show the self-declared competencies, qualifications and experience related to fieldwork of the fieldwork leader. These can be created or reviewed by clicking this link in the fieldwork plan.

Predeparture checklist: once the fieldwork plan is in the approved state, a link to download a predeparture checklist is available. The leader is responsible for completing the checklist, and once the fieldwork is complete uploading the document to the workflow before closing it out.

Deputy leader

A deputy leader can be assigned by selecting ‘yes’ in the assign deputy leader field.

A deputy leader is appointed to assume the fieldwork leader role if the leader became unable to fulfil their role.

Fieldwork coordinator

The fieldwork coordinator is appointed by a HOS or ED to coordinate fieldwork, to administer the collection of health declarations from students.

They also check that access for medical information is valid, for the leader of a fieldwork plan, if requested for medium or high-risk fieldwork.

Fieldwork approver

A fieldwork approver has completed a fieldwork approver induction, that includes selecting areas of competence and qualification and experience. The induction will need to be approved by an executive leader. Once approved the fieldwork leader will be available to select for fieldwork plans medium risk or above.

Risk and insurance approver

The Director of Risk and Insurance or their delegate is the approver of risk and insurance for a fieldwork plan rated as high risk.

SLT approver

The SLT approver, or executive approver is normally the executive Dean or executive director of the business unit that is undertaking the fieldwork. For high-risk fieldwork they are the final approver before the plan becomes approved.

Executive leaders can also delegate authority to fieldwork approvers, who can approve medium risk fieldwork plans.


The people taking part in the fieldwork. They may be required to complete a health declaration and consent. They receive a copy of the plan once approved, and a predeparture briefing immediately prior to departure.

Participants have an obligation to ensure their own safety by following the instructions of their leader, being appropriately equipped, preparing themselves as required and communicating any risks to themselves or other.

Building a fieldwork plan

A new fieldwork plan is created by clicking the create button and then save. The plan will then remain in the planning state and can be worked on by the person who created the plan. To assign the plan to another person to update click ‘Action -> update’.

The fieldwork plan is only editable in the Planning or Review states. In other states the person processing the plan (action officer) can review the plan, and either approve or decline the workflow to the next state.

The first step in development of a plan is categorisation, in the Fieldwork Category section. The fields are described below.

Short description

Enter a short description of the fieldwork

Fieldwork type

Choose an option from the dropdown.

If ‘Course related fieldwork’ is selected the workflow will ask for a course code. When the course code is added or change the list of participants will be cleared and updated based on the current enrolment in the course.

Faculty / Service unit

Enter the faculty or school that is accountable for the fieldwork

Fieldwork purpose

Enter the education or research purpose of the fieldwork

Location and activity

This field determines fieldwork plan sections required for the fieldwork plan

Managed low risk should be used where the activity and location is managed by a PCBU and people would reasonably expect to access / use without any additional risk assessment. No additional fieldwork plan sections are added to the plan.

Sections required: Plan, participants (unless solo), Risk

Managed elevated risk should be used for locations and activities where there is a PBCU managing the site, but elevated risk are present. The public would not usually access these sites, and an induction or risk briefing may be required.

Sections required: Plan, participants (unless solo), Risk, overlapping duties (if selected)

Outdoor unmanaged environment day trip only should be used for locations and activities off campus where there is no PCBU managing the site. DOC land, rivers or coastal areas. The plan will include an Emergency Preparedness section, to include an emergency response plan and an emergency communications plan.

Sections required: Plan, participants (unless solo), Risk, overlapping duties (if selected), emergency preparedness

Outdoor unmanaged environment including overnight stay should be used for fieldwork that includes overnight camping or stay in a field station. This selection will include a Backcountry Plan, and Emergency Preparedness sections.

Sections required: Plan, participants (unless solo), Risk, overlapping duties (if selected), emergency preparedness, Backcountry plan

Boating will include an addition form in the plan, a UC ‘Boating Plan’, for use of UC vessels and skippers.

Antarctic field trip should be used for field trips supported by Antarctica New Zealand and captures key parts of their fieldwork planning process.

Overlapping duties

If managed elevated risk or outdoor activities are selected workflow will ask if there are any overlapping duties. Overlapping duties exist where fieldwork relies on another PCBU to identify or control risk, such as a site controlled by another PCBU or shared equipment. If ‘working at or alongside another PCBU’ is selected, then the Overlapping Duties section then the overlapping duties section becomes a part of the fieldwork plan.


Check the boxes of the types of transport that will be used during the fieldwork. Checking these boxes causes related parts of the Transport section to become part of the fieldwork plan for entry.

Solo activity

Select yes if the fieldwork involves a participant working alone. The type of solo work can then be selected.

The fieldwork plan section is where the general detail of the plan is entered: who the leader is, when the fieldwork is taking place and the location(s) where it is occurring. The use of key fields is described below.

Fieldwork leader

The fieldwork plan section is where the general detail of the plan is entered: who the leader is, when the fieldwork is taking place and the location(s) where it is occurring.

The fieldwork leader field defaults to the creator of the plan but can be edited. Below the name the leaders position, mobile and email info is shown. If any of these need to be updated please contact

The fieldwork leader must attend the fieldwork.

If the fieldwork has been categorised as an outdoor location and activity, then the self-assessed competency of the leader will be displayed. To create or update this record please click this link.


Deputy field leader

A deputy field leader may be appointed. The deputy field leader will assume the fieldwork leader role if the fieldwork leader becomes unable to. Appointing a deputy fieldwork leader should be considered for outdoor fieldwork than includes an overnight stay.

Start and finish dates

The planned start and finish dates and times for the fieldwork. If these change after the fieldwork is approved, the updated times can be recorded in the predeparture checklist.

Simple or multi phase plan

Choose if you want to detail a single location for the fieldwork (simple plan) or multiple locations (multi-phase).

The multi-phase option allows you to create a table with locations, days and or days and activities.

Field activity location (simple)

You can select a location that has already been defined with the drop down triangle or create a new location by clicking new.

For a new location please include the coordinates using the steps detailed. This will enable

Field activity itinerary / plan (simple)

This is where the detail of the plan is entered,eg: brief description of the daily field activities, including location of activities (map?), dates, distance from field HQ, planned route and transportation

Fieldwork plan by phase / activity (multi-phase)

Enter ethe details of the fieldwork plan phase by phase. Click new for each phase, and add detail for the phase into the form: Day 1-3, activity detail, location ..

Adding multiple phases will build a table describing the fieldwork plan.

Safe return check

This is a process where a person independent of the fieldwork confirms the fieldwork party returns as expected, and if not notifies appropriate people and services.

Select the person responsible for the safe return check, or the get home safe app. If no safe return check is required then provide a reason.

The safe return escalation describes the steps that should be taken if the fieldwork part has not returned as expected and remains unaccounted for. This box can be edited to suit the fieldwork plan.

This section provides an editable list of the participant in the fieldwork.

If ‘course related fieldwork’ has been selected in the fieldwork category section, the participation list will be cleared and populated with students when the course code field is completed and the plan saved.

There are additional duties of care for students under 18 and international students. Complete the questions following that confirm the requirements if there are under 18 students participating.

The activity leader may require a safety check, as defined in the pastoral care code, and written consent from international students may be required for participation.

Health and safety risks created by undertaking fieldwork need to be actively identified, and managed. The fieldwork plan enables two options for records risks and controls:

Choose a risk register method

The fieldwork plan enables two options for records risks and controls:

3x3 table – this is appropriate for low complexity fieldwork expected t be low or medium risk. The table will have two default risks: travel by road and medical event. You can add risks by clicking the down triangle to add pre-define risks, or new to open a form to create a new risk.

Accessibility challenges

Check the boxes if the fieldwork is expected to include any of the accessibility challenges. Checking a box will open a notes area to describe the accessibility challenge. Participants will receive a copy of the plan and this section will serve to inform them of what to expect. Participants are also encouraged in the health declaration form to contact the fieldwork leader if they have any accessibility challenges.

Categorise the overall fieldwork risk

This field determines the approval process for the fieldwork. Once a selection is made, and the plan is saved, the available states change accordingly, described in the ‘workflow process’ section.

Determining the risk level is a judgement call guided by the definitions in the fieldwork protocol, and taking into consideration the specific risks identified for the fieldwork. The protocol provide the below guidance:


Low risk

Managed low risk environment e.g. museums, law courts, gallery and cultural visits, performances, concerts and exhibitions, conferences, workshops, low risk business premises, including professional practices (schools, office environments, hospitals) low risk manufacturing/industrial businesses, outdoor activities on UC Ilam or Dovedale campus  e.g physical education or similar exercises conducted for teaching, learning or research.

Medium risk

Elevated risk factors – higher risk businesses, including manufacturing and industrial sites with increased risk factors, logging, quarries and mines, roading or similar development sites, working/travelling alone, door-to-door surveys, working with contractors, outdoor activities off UC Ilam or Dovedale campus, e.g. field stations, camps, boats, river, marine, mountain and bush activities, roadway and roadside, climbing, abseiling, diving. Solo activites including: Working alone, Working with the public, Conduction interviews/surveys.

High risk

Significant risk factors – destinations designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s SafeTravel website as avoid non-essential travel or do not travel, high-risk destinations e.g. Antarctic field trips, active volcanic areas


This section is a checklist for preparedness to work outdoors in a back country area.

Competency of participants

Record any competency assessments that have been undertaken in preparation for the fieldwork

Mandatory certificates

Check that all certificates and licences for the fieldwork are current

Weather decisions

Record how weather-related decisions will be made, are there prerequisite conditions that need to be confirmed prior to departure


Record if self catering or UC, confirm special food requirements

Potable water

Record how access to potable water will be maintained

Wet weather and thermal clothing required

Record what wet weather or cold weather clothing is required, and expected conditions

Emergency shelter

Record if an emergency shelter is required, and any details

This section details emergency contact details and methods, an emergency response plan and emergency communications plan. This section is required for backcountry fieldwork with overnight stays.

Emergency contacts


Activity leader

Repeats contact info for convenience from the fieldwork plan section

Satellite phone

If used select which one is assigned to the fieldwork

Personal locator beacon

If used select which one is assigned to the fieldwork

Other emergency contact

Specify any other emergency communication system to be relied on

UC emergency contact

Contact details of a UC staff member who will be available in case of emergency 24/7 for the duration of the fieldwork

Emergency communications plan


Communications plan

How would emergency service be contacted, how would the field part be contacted by the UV emergency contact, is a scheduled check-in required with the UC contact

Emergency response plan


Emergency response plan details

Enter details of the emergency response plan specific to this fieldwork. Consider location specific details: nearest medical centre, if there is cell phone coverage, how would a medical emergency be handled

First aiders

Add first aiders who are participating. Either search for their name from the first aider list in Assura, or add new first aider by clicking ‘new’.

Safety equipment register

Select to create a register of safety equipment

Could poor weather create an emergency

If weather could create an emergency situation, plan how a decision will be made to eliminate or reduce the risk created.

Use this section to plan travel for the fieldwork and detail how risk will be managed. The visibility of the fields required in this section is based on the transport options selected at the top of the fieldwork plan in the transport key risk factors checkboxes.

Travel by road


Vehicle used

Select the types of vehicles used for the purposes of the fieldwork

Driver competency assessment

Detail any assessment undertaken of driver competency for the fieldwork.

(private vehicle) WoF and registration check

Check that the vehicle has a current WoF and registration

Private vehicle register

Click ‘new’ and enter details for the private vehicle

Expected road type

Check the types of road expected to be encountered

(4wd, icy / snow) driver competency for 4wd

Detail how the driver has been determined to be competent for these road types

(icy / snow) Carrying chains

Confirm vehicle(s) are carrying chains

Transporting HAZSUBs

If carrying HAZSUBs provide details

Domestic flight


Travel booking reference

Enter the travel booking reference, from orbit or other travel system

International flight


Destination country(s)

Enter the names of the countries to be visited

Travel advice level

Use the link to the safe travel site, search for the county(s) to be visited, and select the maximum risk country that is being visited.

If the risk level is ‘avoid non-essential travel’ or above then the  fieldwork must be designated as high risk and be approved by the Director of risk and insurance and an executive leader.

Detail the security arrangements for this travel.

Vaccines, entry visas

Check if your travel requires vaccines or entry visas.

Cyber security

Check the current advice in the link for cyber security arrangements in the destination countries.

Travel booking reference

Enter the travel booking reference, from orbit or other travel system

Attach itinerary

Upload the itinerary document

Overlapping duties are created where the fieldwork relies on working at or with other PCBUs, and consultation with those PCBUs is required to eliminate or minimise risk.


Click the down arrow to select an organisation or click ‘new’ to enter the details for a new organisation and add to the table

Who is the lead organisation for this activity

Detail who is the agreed lead organisation with respect to the fieldwork and managing risks

Are there any requirements to access the location

Enter details for any access requirements, such as permissions or inductions, or if there are any security arrangements like keys required.

Have you shared documentation with all parties

Confirm that relevant documentation has been shared with the other PCBUs, and record details

Confirm that an agreement on who is managing risk has been made

Details on the agreement to manage risk, such as who is best placed to manage which risks.

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities

Confirm that roles and responsibilities have been agreed with all parties. Enter details of the agreement

Enter any notes as appropriate in the notes area, or upload any relevant documents. These will form part of the fieldwork plan and be available to all participants.

Executive leaders

The executive leader of a faculty needs to be set manually for each college level and department level business unit in an ‘additional detail’ field:

Admin -> Business unit -> Additional details -> update -> Executive leader

Fieldwork coordinators

The list of fieldwork coordinators available for approving access to medical declarations and in the risk section drop-down is maintained manually. To add or delete staff from the drop-down list, go to the contact of the fieldwork coordinator and add or delete the group ‘fieldwork coordinators’

To notify fieldwork coordinators (or anyone else required) when plans are created, or reach the approved state, they need to be added to a business unit ‘additional detail’ field:

Admin -> Business unit -> Additional details -> update -> Fieldwork notification

Fieldwork leader self-declaration for competency

These are recorded as contact extensions. For fieldwork plans categorised with outdoor locations, the fields in the leaders contact extension will be shown.

Fieldwork approvers

A fieldwork approver needs to have delegated authority from an SLT member. They do this by completing the fieldwork approver induction workflow. Once that is approved by the SLT member, a notification email will go to the health and safety inbox. This will instruct the H&S team to:

Add the person to the fieldwork approver group

Record the approval against their contact record

Admin -> contacts -> (find contact) -> edit -> click the green plus -> Fieldwork approver -> record delegated areas of approval

Update Emergency Preparedness dropdowns

The emergency preparedness sections uses two drop down menus so uses can select specific communication devices.

Risk and Insurance

The Risk and insurance group is a contact defined for people who can process the workflow in the ‘risk and insurance’ state. Will include the director of risk plus any other staff Dir of Risk advises us to.

Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.