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UC Field Research Safety

Greetings, I hope you're all well. There's a lot to share this month, including the new UC Field Operations Safety Manual, guidance on hazmat shippingwildlife research, more wildfire information, and upcoming training opportunities. I'm also introducing lessons learned direct from staff and researchers. As always, if you have specific questions, concerns, or requests, please reach out to me via sarasouza@berkeley.edu (sooner rather than later!). Thank you, Sara

Students are back at Berkeley, with all the energy and chaos that goes along with the start of another academic year. UC's 150 year celebration timeline is worth checking out and includes many references to influential field researchers, and establishment of various research stations and observatories. An interesting choice, the summer reading for incoming students was the 1985 novel "The Handmaid's Tale" and the author Margaret Atwood spoke on campus last week. The story is a powerful dystopian perspective on the interconnectedness of environmental pollution, climate change, public health, and social policies/norms. An excellent read, imho. 
The UC Field Operations Safety Manual is posted!
The NEW UC Field Operations Safety Manual serves as a reference document and teaching tool to promote safe, successful field courses and research trips. It is organized into sections on planning, training, incident response, risk assessment, effective communication, campus resources, and common field hazards.
Please take time to review this resource, and share it with field researchers and trip leaders. Many UC faculty and staff contributed to this effort; a special thanks to Chris Lay from the Ken Norris Center for Natural History at UCSC for his extensive contributions and initiative.
FDA Approves Generic EpiPen
On August 16 the FDA announced approval of the first generic version of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. "Although other generic versions of epinephrine auto-injectors have been previously approved, the new product is the first that can be easily substituted for customers by their pharmacists."  TEVA Pharmaceuticals is authorized to sell the generic version; availability and cost TBD (per NPR). 
Wildfire Information Sources (and TWO close calls)
The July newsletter focused on wildfire prevention and response, but a few more items have been shared: A UC natural reserve had a close call earlier this month when a fire started in dry grass, possibly from a cigarette. The on-site manager and others were able to quickly respond and extinguish the fire before it spread out of control. Fortunately it occurred in a mowed area, and was contained to about 75' x 100', but it certainly could have been much worse. Smoking is not allowed on any UC properties and in dry, windy conditions it's important to be extra vigilant regarding any potential source of flame or sparks, including vehicles and powered equipment. 
Hannah Bird, an Education Coordinator at UC ANR's Hopland Research and Extension Center, posted a unique account of their recent response to the River Fire (part of the record-breaking Mendocino Complex Fire) that swept across the property on July 27: A Tale of Two Fires.

Hopland REC also has a call out for Post-Fire Research Opportunities on the property. 
CalFire App: Download Here
  • Checklists
  • Customized wildfire texts or push-notifications
  • Fire incidents page
  • Fire map
  • Video library 
Wildlife Resources
I was fortunate to participate in a wildlife research best practices meeting at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks last month along with veterinarians and wildlife biologists from the National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife, and researchers and IACUC administrators from a number of universities including UCLA, Davis, and Berkeley. Trapping and handling techniques were demonstrated, and many useful resources shared. Appropriate safety precautions and vaccinations should always be considered in advance based on the species and planned work. UCSC has a nice model for this review, along with resources related to Animal Contact

Useful references for wildlife biology: 
Guidelines for the Use of Wild Animals in Research and Teaching (American Society of Mammologists)
Guidelines for the Use of Wild Birds in Research (Ornithological Council)
Science Guidelines (American Fisheries Society)
Animal Care Guidelines (American Society of Ichthyologists & Herpotologists)
Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention in Veterinary Personnel (National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians)
Fish & Wildlife Training Modules (Canadian Council on Animal Care)
Health Risks for Marine Mammal Works (UC Davis Vet Medicine)
Disease Precautions for Hunters (AVMA)

For the rest of us that may encounter wildlife unintentionally or be concerned about zoonotic diseases, some general references:
One Health Education (National Park Service)
Zoonotic Diseases (California Department of Public Health)
Travelers' Health "YelIow Book" (CDC) has useful instruction regarding animal-associated hazards and what do in the event of a bite or scratch.
Coolers stored in car lead to "horrific accident"
The recent asphyxiation of a delivery person in Washington was caused by oxygen displacement from carbon dioxide released from four coolers of dry ice. This sad accident is a reminder of the importance of proper packaging and transport of hazardous materials. All regulated materials must be transported and shipped by trained individuals; at Berkeley we have an online request form and guidance, including dry ice training and other resources. Common regulated materials include:
  • Liquid nitrogen, oxygen tanks, compressed gas cylinders;
  • Dry ice;
  • Live animals or animal specimens, some insects;
  • Patient specimens and infectious materials;
  • Alcohol and solvent preservatives;
  • Corrosive or toxic chemicals; 
  • Lithium metal and ion batteries;
  • Equipment that produces electricity, power, or has an energy source;
  • Fuels and flammables of any kind.
The gist of it, reach out to your EH&S office for assistance in advance, and please don't wait until the day you need to transport materials! 
Staff Profile: Heather Spaulding, UC Davis
Title: EH&S Field Safety Professional 
Experience: Heather has worked in environments ranging from the Farrallon Islands and the Sierras to the mountains of Kentucky and Bay Area National Parks. She has a Master’s Degree in Entomology from the University of Kentucky and most recently served as safety officer for the Williams Lab at UC Davis, working on pollinator ecology. In her spare time, Heather works on the pit crew for an amateur racing team. She hopes to give researchers the tools and resources they need to get their work done safely while "feeling confident and supported in the field.”
Lesson Learned: Years ago, a rattlesnake gave me an important wake-up call when I stopped my truck to open a gate on a dirt road at the end of the afternoon. The snake was concealed in the tall grass at the edge of the road, and as I climbed back into the truck, it rattled to warn me that I had walked too close. Once inside, I took stock of the situation: my cell phone battery was low, and I hadn’t confirmed my usual check-in plan with a co-worker that morning. If I had been injured that day and couldn’t drive myself back to a main road, I might have had to wait several hours for somebody to come by. Since then, I always take a portable cell phone charger or backup communication device to the field, leave more clearance around tall grass, and confirm my communication and check-in plan before every trip
A favorite outdoor place: Point Reyes
Upcoming Professional Meetings & Resources
2018 International Research Conference: September 17-18, UC Davis. More Info

Organization of Biological Field Stations Annual Meeting: September 19-23, Acadia National Park, Maine. More info

CSHEMA Field Research Safety Community of Practice, launched Summer 2018. Next call September 20 at 11 am PST More info

Field First Aid at UCSB September 24; Wilderness First Aid at Berkeley September 28-29; at UCSC October 20-21; more dates and locations TBD

Wilderness Risk Management Conference: October 3-5, Portland, Oregon. More info

American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Annual Symposium: October 9-13, Tahoe City, CA (hosted by UC Davis and UC Berkeley). More info

UCSD/Scripps Institute of Oceanography Safety Day, October 17 10 am- 1 pm

Bay Area Global Health Newsletter: Keep up with global health news from universities in the Bay Area including UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Stanford and UC Davis. More info

Other field safety related events you'd like to promote? Please email me at sarasouza@berkeley.edu. Best, Sara
 






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