Low Risk Off-Campus Activity Procedure

Final Approval Body: Senior Leadership Team

Senior Administrative Position with Responsibility for Procedure: VP, Finance and Administration

Date Initially Approved: January, 2023


This Procedure guides you in completing the actions required under the Off-Campus Activity Safety Policy for a Low Risk Off-Campus Activity. This includes the steps required to set up a Low Risk Off-Campus Activity safety planning record using the Safe Travel Activity Registration Tool (START).

Staff and faculty are strongly encouraged but not required to complete a record for Low Risk Off-Campus Activities in START, unless they are the Activity Planner for a Low Risk Off-Campus Activity that includes undergraduate students (i.e., students in first-entry baccalaureate or professional (J.D., MD, B.Ed.) programs),graduate students or post-doctoral fellows as Participants. Should any assistance be needed when off-campus, the information in the OCASP records is used to provide support. Staff and faculty who do not submit an OCASP record for their Low Risk Off-Campus Activity are required to provide details of their travel (dates, locations and emergency contact information) to their department/unit.  In lieu of tracking travel information, the department/unit head can direct staff and faculty to submit a record for all Low-Risk Off-Campus Activities.

Exceptions:  Low risk off-campus activities conducted within the Kingston area do not require a record in START (or with the participant’s department).  There are other circumstances where low risk activities would not require a record in START. Refer to the Low Risk Off-Campus Activity Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  If you have additional concerns or questions please email ocasp@queensu.ca

All Participants in any Off-Campus Activity are required to comply with reporting requirements, regardless of whether or not a safety planning record has been created in START. (See Reporting Procedures).

Accompanying Procedures and Guidelines

In addition to this Low Risk Off-Campus Activity Procedure, implementation of the Off-Campus Activity Safety Policy is supported by the following procedures and guidelines. It is recommended that you review these documents to ensure you understand the steps required to comply with the Policy:

Supporting resources can be found on the OCASP Website.  

Related policies, procedures and guidelines are listed at the end of this procedure.


The steps to determine risk level are outlined in the Risk Assessment Procedure

The following steps are completed by the Activity Planner, except for the following:

  • Step Two is the responsibility of the Activity Planner and any Participants who the Activity Planner includes in the Safety Planning Record in START (For example, the class members the Activity Planner adds to the Safety Planning record for a class field trip)
  • Step Seven which, if required, is the responsibility of the Person in Authority.

Step 1: Create a Low Risk Off-Campus Activity Safety Planning Record

Who is Responsible: Activity Planner

  • Safety planning records are created in START.
  • When creating a new Low Risk Off-Campus Activity safety planning record, you can copy and modify a record you previously submitted.
  • If copying an existing safety planning record, you are responsible for ensuring all the information is current and relevant to the proposed Off-Campus Activity.
  • Safety planning records in START can be completed in stages before being submitted. This allows you to consult resources, should a question or concern arise while creating the record.
  • Prior to logging into START, gather the following information
    • Information on the planned Off-Campus Activity
    • Dates of activity
    • Type of activity
    • Dept overseeing activity
    • Phone number at location of activity
  • Information required if travelling internationally
    • Country of activity
    • City of activity
    • Location of activity (e.g., hotel, host institution)
    • Citizenship related to country of activity
    • Citizenship under which you are travelling
    • Passport number – while optional, it is recommended that you provide your passport number as this information can be useful to have on file if you need support in an emergency.
  • Your (Activity Planner) Emergency Contact Information
    • Two personal emergency contacts
    • Contact information for the location of the Off-Campus Activity
  • Information required if planning a group activity
    • You must register Participants individually or select a class list through START
    • If registering Participants individually, you will need to provide their names and emails
    • If applicable, include the name(s) of any Activity Leader(s) who are supporting the Off-Campus Activity. You will need the following information for each Activity Leader: name, email, training/certifications (e.g., first aid)

Step 2: Ensure Appropriate Insurance Coverage

Who is Responsible: Activity Planner and Participants

  • Review the Insurance and Risk Management Office Website to ensure you have the appropriate coverage, including health coverage plans (i.e., through HR, AMS or SGPS) and coverage for university-owned, private and/or rental property/vehicles.
  • Obtain the appropriate insurance coverage as well as the appropriate Visa and immunizations (if applicable).

Step 3: Complete Pre-Departure Training

Who is Responsible: Activity Planner

  • You will be automatically directed to complete online training within START based on the type of travel and/or activity (e.g., international travel, field studies).
  • Undergraduate students will NOT be able to submit their Low Risk Off-Campus Activity safety planning record until this training is complete.
  • Departments/facilities may require you to complete certain training modules within START. You must check with the Person in Authority to determine if any of the modules are mandatory for you.
  • Complete any additional department- or faculty-specific orientation or training requirements. Please contact the Person in Authority for direction.

Step 4: Acknowledge Responsibilities under the Policy

Who is Responsible: Activity Planner

  • As part of your Low Risk Off-Campus Activity safety planning record, in START, you will be asked to confirm that you understand your responsibilities related to the Off-Campus Activity, including insurance, immunization, visas, and timely reporting of any incidents.

Step 5: Complete Pre-Departure Activities

Who is Responsible: Activity Planner

  • Prepare and complete pre-departure orientations with any Participants you are responsible for. Orientations should reflect the nature of the activity and the experience of the participants.
  • Inform Participants that it is their responsibility to obtain appropriate insurance coverage as well as the appropriate Visa(s) and immunizations (if applicable).  
  • Direct Participants to review the Insurance and Risk Management Office Website to ensure they have the appropriate coverage, including health coverage plans (i.e., through HR, AMS or SGPS) and coverage for university-owned, private and/or rental property/vehicles.
  • Pre-arrange any special needs for yourself or Participant(s) with disabilities, health needs, etc.
  • Review your reporting requirements and direct Participants to do the same. See Reporting Procedure.

Step 6: Report Any Change in Activity or Activity Location

Who is Responsible: Activity Planner

  • If there is any change to the activity and/or the location of the activity prior to departure or during the activity, you must consult with the Person in Authority and/or the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.
  • You may be required to submit a new Low Risk Off-Campus Activity safety planning record, change the risk level to high and complete a safety plan (see High Risk Off-Campus Activity Procedure) or, if the risk is found to be Unmanageable, cancel or terminate the Off-Campus Activity.

Step 7: If An Activity is Cancelled Due to Unmanageable Risk

Who is Responsible: Person in Authority

  • Make reasonable efforts to accommodate a student’s need to find alternate ways to complete a program of off-campus study (e.g., exchange or study-abroad program, placement or practicum) or field research in a region.
  • If any individual decides to engage in the Off-Campus Activity where the risk has been determined to be Unmanageable, they do so at their own risk and assume all liability.
  • If this situation arises, consult the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.
  • Direct the individual to sign and submit a waiver provided by Queen’s Insurance and Risk Management Office (insurance@queensu.ca).

Definition: Off-Campus Activity

Off-Campus Activity: Any field research or an academic/extra-curricular/administrative activity that takes place beyond the boundaries of the Activity Planner’s or Participant’s primary Queen’s location.  Queen’s locations include all Queen’s Campuses in Kingston, Ontario and other locations owned or leased by Queen’s University (e.g.SNOLAB, Smith School of Business in Toronto),  and locations that are approved under a Remote Work Agreement.

Definitions: Roles

Activity Leader: Any individual(s) who, in addition the Activity Planner, have responsibility for leading or co-leading the Off-Campus Activity.

Activity Planner: The individual with direct responsibility for planning or leading an Off-Campus Activity.  Examples of Activity Planners are course instructors, team coaches, a Principal Investigator (PI) who has direct responsibility for a field research project or activity, or a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow who plans and executes a field, thesis or post-doctoral research project or activity and/or a project carried out under a research or service agreement. The Activity Planner may also be a Participant (see definition below) and must fulfil the responsibilities of both roles.

Authorized Volunteer: An individual who is not a University Member but who participates voluntarily in an Off-Campus Activity with the approval of the Activity Planner and the Person in Authority.

Participant: Any University Member and/or Authorized Volunteer who takes part in an Off-Campus Activity.

Person in Authority: The individual responsible for approving the Off-Campus Activity under this Policy. In most cases, this will be the Department/Unit Head or Program Director to whom the Activity Planner reports. Where a Department/Unit Head, Program Director, Dean or Vice-Principal is the Activity Planner, the Person in Authority would be their supervisor (Dean, Vice-Principal or Principal).  There are three exceptions:

  • For off-campus field study trips by students at the Bader International Study Centre, the Executive Director of the Centre is the Person in Authority
  • For undergraduate academic exchanges, activities undertaken by Queen's Project on International Development (QPID), Queen’s Heath Outreach (QHO) and Mitacs Research Awards that involve international travel, the Director of Environmental Health and Safety or their designate is the Person in Authority.
  • For student-organized, extra-curricular activity sanctioned or funded by the university, the university official who provides the sanction or authorizes the financial contribution assumes the responsibility of the Person in Authority.

University Members: All undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff and faculty.

Definitions: Risk Levels

Low Risk: An activity is deemed to be of low risk if it entails hazards no greater than those encountered by the participants in their everyday lives. Minimal planning and preparation are required for such activities. Under normal circumstances, the following are considered low risk activities:

  • Travel within Canada for conferences, seminars, meetings, and/or for visits to academic or related institutions (e.g., accredited1universities or hospitals, museums, galleries, and theatres);
  • Local field trips of short duration in an urban setting in Canada
  • Clinical placements at accredited1 institutions in Canada
  • Domestic travel by Queen’s Varsity athletic teams and university-supported athletic clubs

Unmanageable Risk: An activity is deemed to have an Unmanageable Risk level when sustainable mitigation strategies that would bring the risk level to a manageable threshold cannot be achieved. Examples of activities where it may not be possible to put in place sustainable mitigation strategies include:

  • Travel to active war zones
  • Travel to an area where there is an acute public health event (e.g., Ebola outbreak)
  • Solitary field research or travel in remote or hazardous areas (considering access to emergency or medical services and/or phone/911 coverage)
  • Travel to an area where a recent natural disaster has caused infrastructure damage and the provision of basic services continues to be disrupted. This includes locations where the risk of re-occurrence of the event that caused the disaster remains high (i.e. aftershocks, additional avalanches, etc.)
  • Travel to a location where a travel and/or health advisory to avoid all travel has been issued by external agencies such as Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Health Canada, World Health Organization (WHO), International SOS, etc.  
  • An activity where the amount of training required or the extent or cost of the safety precautions necessary to overcome the risks associated with a group’s size or the experience of its members is prohibitive

Instructions for assessing the effectiveness of the mitigations and the resulting risk level is outlined in the Risk Assessment Procedure

1An accredited institution means an institution that is officially recognized or authorised as a legitimate establishment in its particular field.  The goal is to ensure the institution meets a reasonable standard with respect to quality and internal procedure and process that will help minimize risk to those that are visiting the institution.

Responsible Officer: VP, Finance and Administration

Contact: Director, Environmental Health and Safety

Date for Next Review: January 2028

Related Policies, Procedures, Guidelines:

Off Campus Activity Safety Policy

Accommodation of Disabilities in the Workplace Policy

Academic Accommodations for Students With Disabilities Policy

Health and Safety Management System Policy

Policy Statement on Health and Safety