Field researchers need to have an effective communications system to provide workers with a method of signaling their need for assistance. Even with the best communication equipment, there may be times when the worker is rendered incapable of using it. To ensure there is contact even in these cases, the communication system must include regular contact and be initiated by the employer or designate at intervals appropriate to the nature of the hazard associated with the work.

Checking In


Frequency of check-ins depends on the nature of the hazard. Are you working in an isolated area? Is there a chance of wildlife in the area? Are you anticipating bad weather? The more hazards, the more often you should check in.

Check-in Delegate

The check-in delegate should be available during the entire time the researcher is in the field, which can often be 24/7. The check-in delegate can be someone appointed in your lab, someone you are collaborating with who has their own established check-in or is signed up for the Government of Alberta's Employee Safety Office (ESO), formerly the Provincial Radio Control Centre. 

Required Communication Tools

You need a communication tool that allows you to signal for help from within your group as well as with the outside world, including emergency medical support. This may be a cell phone, a satellite phone, a two-way GPS satellite based messaging device (e.g., inReach) or a SPOT device (only in connection with the ESO as they are not two-way).

Register with GoA's Employee Safety Office 

The University of Alberta can link into the Government of Alberta's 24-hour call centre, the Employee Safety Office, formerly the Provincial Radio Control Centre. The ESO offers a variety of services, some of which are of particular value to field research:

  • Hazardous situation monitoring with a safety timer.
  • Regular check-ins.
  • Emergency response.
  • Weather warnings, AMBER Alerts and other alert notifications to field staff who have devices.

If you are interested in acquiring the ability to use this call-in centre, here are a few things you should know:

  • Each user will have to purchase a Safety Link Application. The yearly license costs $250 per year per participant.
  • If you will be in areas without cell service, you will need to have a satellite phone, an inReach device or a SPOT device (third generation is recommended).
  • The inReach or SPOT device integration has extra costs associated with linking the devices into the ESO. For both devices, you will need to deactivate the device with your current supplier and reactivate with the ESO. Due to this requirement, the user would have to pay a reactivation fee as well as an extra data feed cost. Costs are detailed in the forms referenced below.

ESO Registration

  1. Have your group prepare the Home Base Registration Form . This will represent the individual research group. After completion, additional staff can be added to the "home base" group. The location for this group is where the research lab is located on campus. Once complete, you can start adding staff to that location.
  2. Have each person in your lab who will be using the ESO fill out the User Registration Form . This form is what the ESO uses to allocate call signs to the staff members and enter all contact information into their database.
  3. Fill out the Safety Link License Form  for every lab member who wishes to purchase the Safety Link application.
  4. Any inReach and SPOT devices being transferred over will need to be registered and activated by AWARE360. Typically, you may be able to get any unused subscription back as a credit with the provider you have signed up with. Depending on your device, please complete the InReach Device Activation Form .
  5. Please submit your forms electronically to (with the subject ESO Application). We will email you within three days of receiving the application to confirm your submission and to schedule your ESO training.