Most functions of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Water Resources Division (WRD) require employees to participate in numerous field activities ranging from routine meetings with cooperators, other federal and public officials, and private citizens to potentially hazardous assignments, such as making flood measurements and scuba diving to service underwater instruments. It is paramount that each employee be aware of safety procedures and operational policies of the WRD to ensure that (1) their activities avoid or minimize personal injury to the employee, coworkers, or anyone in the vicinity of the field activity, and (2) their conduct does not infringe on the personal or property rights of any individual or organization.
The purpose of the guide is to familiarize employees with the operational and safety procedures expected to be followed by each employee as a representative of the WRD. It is also intended as a training tool for all new employees and a document to be reviewed by each employee before undertaking a field assignment. It includes general procedures that are standard and applicable to all field operations, such as communication, vehicle operation, and adequate preparation for anticipated weather conditions. It also includes a discussion of specific procedures and safety considerations for most of the routine field assignments undertaken by hydrologists and hydrologic technicians of the WRD. The guide is not intended to be a technical handbook outlining step-by-step procedures for performing specific tasks or a comprehensive discussion of every possible activity that may be undertaken by a USGS employee. Employees are referred to the Techniques for Water-Resources Investigations (TWRI) series for specific technical procedures and to the U.S. Geological Survey Safety and Environmental Health Handbook 445-1-H (USGS, August 1989), USGS Occupational Hazards and Safety Procedures Handbook 445-2-H (December 1993), the WRD notebook on Safety Policy and Guidance Memoranda, and other references for procedures and safety issues related to nonroutine activities, such as operations on large vessels and aircraft.