Protecting Yourself and Your Department
Does your institution or department have standard field trip operating policies?
If you do not know the answer to this question, find out. Your first line of personal protection is knowing what the rules are. At the very least, your institution's insurers will have very specific policies about vehicles. Be sure that you know what the policies are.
Consider developing departmental standard procedures for field trips. Having prudent policies in writing helps a faculty member enforce safe behavior. It is much easier, for example, to enforce a ban on after-hours bar trips if it is departmental policy, rather something that students might consider to be the faculty member's lack of "coolness". Most institutions have an environmental health and safety officer. If your department develops a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for field trips, ask him/her to review the policies.
Do you follow your institution's or department's standard field trip operating policies?
It is very risky to be casual about following rules and policies. Your second line of personal protection is to follow the rules. If something happened on one of your field trips, and you were not following the rules and policies, you would be considered negligent. Find out what policies govern field trips in your situation and get them in writing, if at all possible.
Do you carry personal liability insurance?
A field trip leader may ultimately be called to court in the aftermath of an incident. If you are sued personally as well as professionally, the institution's liability may not cover a resulting settlement. If you conduct field trips as a regular part of your activities, consider carrying your own personal liability insurance beyond the minimum offered under homeowners or car insurance policies.
Continue on to Field Safety Resources.