Coweeta LTER Safety Policy

Below are guidelines and protocols to follow concerning accountability and safety at Coweeta: 

1) Check in/Check out

Graduate students, technicians, and PIs should always let someone know where they are going to be working and what time they expect to be back from the field.  Because of the odd times that researchers are sometimes required to work (e.g., evenings, weekends, and holidays), three options are offered below:

a) There is a whiteboard next to the metal cabinet where the UGA vehicle keys and radios are kept in the Analytical Lab.  Use this board to sign in and sign out when working during work hours (7:30am – 4pm).

b) If you have to be in the field after Coweeta’s normal work hours, please use the white boards in the Coweeta Residency to sign in and sign out.  Also, let someone in the dorm know where you are going to be working and when you expect to be back.  Use the “buddy” system so someone can find you if you don’t make it back from the field.

c) If no one is in the dorm and you will be working after hours, during the weekend, or over the holidays, please contact the Site Manager (Jason Love) via email or over the phone to let him know your field schedule.  Jason’s work number is 828.524.2128 x 113 and his home number is 828.369.0732.  If Jason is NOT available, please contact Jennifer Knoepp at 828.524.2128 x 103 (work) or 828.369.0027 (home).

In each of these cases, if you know you are going to be late from the field, please use a radio or cell phone to call your designated contact to let them know you are ok and are going to be late.  If you are working alone, it is REQUIRED that you use one of the methods above to let someone know where you will be working and when you expect to return.

2) Personal Safety Equipment

a) Orange Safety Vests – During the hunting season, researchers are REQUIRED to wear orange safety vests when in the field.  Orange vests can be found in the foyer of the Analytical Lab in the shelf above the lab coats.  A pair of safety vests will also be in each UGA field vehicle.  Hunting season dates will be posted below the white board in the Analytical Lab and on whiteboards in the dorm kitchens.

b) Hard Hats – Hard hats are to be carried with researchers at all times and USFS researchers are required to wear them when they step off the road.  Researchers are REQUIRED to wear hard hats when working in hazardous areas with dead hemlock, beetle-killed pines, or on windy days. Hard hats, along with a box of leather gloves, can be found in the Analytical Lab on the shelf above the lab coats; hard hats will also be placed in UGA field vehicles. 

c) Radios – Radios should be checked-out if working in the Coweeta basin or other remote areas when cell phone reception is spotty or nonexistent.  Please see the Site Manager for directions on how to use the radios.  The radios are stored in the metal cabinet in the foyer of the Analytical Lab.

d) First-Aid Kits – First-aid kits can be found in each of the UGA field vehicles, as well as in each of the dorm kitchens and in each of the office buildings. These kits are periodically checked, but please let the Site Manager know if kits need re-filling after use.

3) Vehicle Safety

All drivers of UGA vehicles are REQUIRED to watch two online driving videos, as well as the USFS “Driving Mountain Roads” video.  In addition, all drivers must read and sign the Coweeta LTER “Vehicle Use Agreement” form that outlines the safety guidelines and vehicle check-out procedures to follow when using a Coweeta LTER field vehicle.

4) Avoid Working in Hazardous Situations

All field work has a degree of risk.  It is the researcher’s responsibility to reduce this risk by using the Check-in/Check-out protocols, having appropriate personal safety equipment, and by being able to recognize and minimize hazardous situations.  When working at Coweeta, the Site Manager, Coweeta Safety Officer, and Coweeta Project Leader have the responsibility to make sure that research is being conducted safely.  If the Site Manager, Safety Officer, or Project Leader feels that researchers are engaging in activities that are not safe (including driving), they have the authority to require researchers to either wear appropriate safety equipment or to cease field work because of dangerous field conditions.