Safety Guidelines for Field Research


Safety First

Volunteer safety is the top priority for community based environmental monitoring and improvement groups. Safety is important when traveling to and from the site, at the river's edge and during testing. The following guidelines have been developed and tested by Waterwatch Australia for use by group leaders, such as teachers, to ensure the safety of volunteers. If monitoring requires putting a volunteer at risk, do not attempt it.


Understand the risks


Choose safe sites


Wear appropriate clothing


Bring safety gear and a first aid kit


Maintain contact with help


Appoint a group leader


Never sample alone


Never go into the water above your knees


Avoid contact with polluted water


Take proper care when carrying out chemical tests


When testing for E. coli or faecal coliform

a. Using tongs or wearing rubber gloves remove petri dish covers, and then carefully place covers, dishes, and cultures into a large beaker or pan containing undiluted, liquid household bleach.

b. After 10 minutes remove the petri dishes, and rinse them well under running water. The wet pads and filter should be put in plastic bags, the bag sealed and properly discarded.

  1. Carefully immerse the petri dishes in a solution of 70% isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the petri dishes and covers and stack them on a clean surface to dry. Reassemble dishes and covers. They are now ready for storage or reuse.

Risk Management in River Surveys


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