Environmental Health and Safety

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Off Campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP)

International Travel September 2021 Update

Following the introduction of the global travel advisory in March 2020, Queen’s suspended all university sponsored travel, with some exemptions for essential international research travel.

While Global Affairs Canada continues to advise against non-essential international travel, university-sponsored essential international travel by fully-vaccinated members of the Queen’s community will now be permitted, contingent upon registration in the Off Campus Activity Safety Policy online system and approval by department/unit head. 

To streamline the process for essential international travel, internationally-travelling members of the Queen’s community will no longer be expected to contact the Vice Provost International for a waiver before travelling.  Instead the Off Campus Activity Safety Policy process will guide approval for university-sponsored travel, using its existing process with some adaptations for the special circumstances of the pandemic and the continuance of the global travel advisory.  

Queen’s faculty, staff and students proposing essential international travel must be registered in the OCASP online system prior to scheduling any travel.   

Faculty and staff planning university sponsored international travel are required to consult with their unit/department head or delegate.  Graduate students planning essential international travel must consult with their academic supervisors and also with their unit/department chairs/delegate (for example, graduate coordinator) before submitting an OCASP record.  Points of contact in non-departmentalized faculties/schools are as follows:

  • for faculty in non-departmentalized faculties/ schools: Associate Deans Research
  • for staff in non-departmentalized faculties/schools:  the Executive Director/delegate, Dean’s Office (Smith) or Executive Director, Non-credit (Faculty of Education); and,
  • for graduate students in non-departmentalized faculties/schools: the Associate Dean Graduate.   

Please see below for further details.

  1. All international travel  to countries with an “Avoid non-essential travel” advisory related strictly to Covid-19 and no additional safety/security factors (e.g. civil unrest, unpredictable security situation etc.) will be classified as low risk (this is consistent with the OCASP process which defines travel to regions with a travel advisory where the plan can be revised to reduce the risk to a manageable level).  
  2. All international travel to countries with a COVID-19 related “Avoid all travel” advisory WITH additional advisories against non-essential travel related to other factors (e.g. civil unrest, unpredictable security situation etc.) or where the nature of the activity itself involves greater risk (i.e. scuba diving, rock climbing, remote activity, etc.) will be classified as higher risk (this is consistent with the OCASP process which defines travel to regions with a travel advisory to be automatically higher risk).
  3. All undergraduate students travelling internationally are automatically classified as higher risk (this is consistent with the current OCASP process).
  4. All international travellers must complete either the high-risk or low risk path in the OCASP web-based planning tool.  Further instructions on which path to complete are provided within the OCASP tool.
  5. Re-imbursement for the costs of university-sponsored international travel is contingent upon OCASP registration and approval before beginning travel.  The Government of Canada continues to advise against all but essential travel and OCASP is a way to mitigate the risk of travel deemed essential through planning and registration of travel plans.  This requirement will be in place for as long as the Global Travel Advisories are in place.
  6. University-sponsored international travellers must be fully vaccinated before travel.

To operationalize these changes, some minor changes will be made to the OCASP web-based pages.  Because many members of the Queen’s community (primarily faculty and graduate students) may not be fully familiar with OCASP higher risk application, information on completion of the OCASP record will be provided.  A Covid-19 check list will be embedded in the OCASP registration to ensure that required elements are in place before travel (for example, consultation with unit/department head and full vaccination).  The Covid-19 Checklist and the Quick Reference Guide for International Travel during Covid-19 can be located in the Resources section.  

Faculty, staff and students must complete the appropriate Off Campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP) process prior to undertaking any university sponsored travel. 

Re-imbursement for the costs of university-sponsored international travel is contingent upon OCASP approval before beginning travel.  The Government of Canada continues to advise against all but essential travel and the OCASP process is an essential element of mitigating the risk of travel deemed essential, through planning and registration of travel plans.  This requirement will be in place for as long as the Global Travel Advisories are in place. If you have questions contact your Supervisor/Department Head or email ocasp@queensu.ca.

In order to reproduce careful language that Queen’s Legal drafted for the waiver letters issued by Vice Provost International, the following items  will be added to the attestation that travellers sign-off on when submitting their record in the system. ]

  • You may increase your risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus:
  • You may have difficulty obtaining essential products and services
  • You may suddenly face strict movement restrictions and quarantines at designated facilities and at your own cost
  • If you get sick, you may not have access to necessary medical facilities or supports
  • Your insurance may not cover your travel or medical expenses
  • You are recommended to register with consular services in your host country
  • You may encounter vandalism and violence directed toward “foreigners” or “outsiders” on the part of local residents
  • Queen’s requires full vaccination for all individuals (students, staff, faculty, and university-sponsored visitors). All individuals who plan university sponsored travel must be fully vaccinated.
  • Proof of vaccination may be required by your destination country. Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19. It is your responsibility to ensure you are aware of the current restrictions/requirements of your destination country and that you comply with them.
  • A checkbox for the following statement has also been added - I am voluntarily assuming all the risks associated with my decision to travel at this time, including those outlined above. I am required to assume all anticipated and unanticipated travel-related costs associated with my travel. This includes but is not limited to any vaccination, quarantine, or testing costs incurred prior to travel, on arrival in the destination country, upon leaving the destination country and/or upon return to Canada/or my home country; flight changes; early termination of rental leases; or financial costs associated with the issuance of any travel notices by the Canadian government or others.

Login to the OCASP 2.0 Online Tool here

The Off-campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP) applies to ALL members of the Queen's community involved in university-sanctioned activities that take place off campus. This includes (but is not limited to): study, research, work, internship, practicum, placement, sporting events and conference attendence.  If the event is sanctioned by the University it falls under the purview of the Policy. Access the Off-campus Activity Safety Policy which is housed on the University Secretariat website.

From the initial stages of planning, off-campus activities must be evaluated from a safety perspective.  The Policy recognizes that most off-campus activities entail risks that are no greater than the participants would face in everyday life and can be safety carried out with minimal planning and preparation (low-risk). For activities that entail higher risk appropriate planning, preparation and training must be carried out to mitigate/manage risks associated with the activity. For activities falling into the higher-risk category a Safety Planning Record, complete with a full risk assessment, must be submitted and approved prior to departure. In circumstances where it is concluded that the risks are unmanageable, the activity should not be carried out. 

The University is committed to ensuring that all off-campus activities are conducted in as safe and as fully aware a climate as possible, with all persons involved being fully aware of their duties and responsibilities with regard to due diligence. If you are accessing the OCASP system for the first time or are unsure of the process please access the appropriate link below. Login to complete your OCASP records. 

Determining Risk Level
For each NEW off-campus activity the Principal Investigator/Activity Coordinator (PI/AC) and the Department/Unit Head (Person in Authority) (PIA) must undertake a preliminary risk assessment. This can be done formally, via the OCASP 2.0 Planning Tool, or informally within the unit.
To help evaluate whether an activity entails “low risk”, the University created a list of activity categories that are deemed to entail low risk. Department/Unit Heads can also identify frequently occurring activities in their unit that they determine to fall in the low-risk category. These lists are referred to in the Policy as the “University List of Low-Risk Activities (ULLRA)” and the “Department List of Low-Risk Activities (DLLRA).
In the case of solitary field research/academic or extra-curricular off-campus activity, it is the solitary participant who carries out the preliminary risk assessment; the participant the works with their Person in Authority to determine the risk level.
Note - Activities taking place in "remote" locations fall into the higher-risk category and should be planned for accordingly. "Remote" can be determined by a number of factors such as the distance to the nearest medical service,and/or lack of 911 (or equivalent) coverage in the area. Once the risk level has been determined participants should access the appropriate link to register their off-campus activity in the the OCASP 2.0 Planning Tool. 
Access the Risk Assessment - Reference Sheet (PDF 326 KB) for further information.
If needed, access the Preliminary Risk Assessment Tool.
Register In-Canada Activities 

Register a low-risk off-campus activity

For help access the How to complete the online low-risk activity form (PDF 412 KB)

Register a higher-risk off-campus (including those in "remote"locations) activity 

For help access the How to complete the online higher-risk activity form (PDF 842 KB)

Learn how to complete a "group trip" form (PDF 457 KB)

Cannabis in Canada

The Cannabis Act came into force on October 17, 2018.  Provinces and territories are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold within their jurisdictions. 

They set rules around:

  • how cannabis can be sold
  • where stores may be located
  • how stores must be operated. 

Provinces and territories also have the flexibility to set added restrictions, including:

  • lowering possession limits
  • increasing the minimum age
  • restricting where cannabis may be used in public
  • setting added requirements on personal cultivation

Each province and territory has its own excise stamp for legal cannabis products.  You are responsible for knowing what will be legal in the province or territory that you travel to. 

Visit the Government of Canada for more information on cannabis regulations across Canada.  Visit the University Secretariat and Legal Counsel for more information on cannabis as it relates to Queen's University campus. 

Register International Activities (including U.S.A.)

Register a low-risk off-campus activity

For help access the How to complete the online low-risk activity form (PDF 412 KB)

Register a higher-risk off-campus (including those in "remote"locations) activity 

For help access the How to complete the online higher-risk activity form (PDF 842 KB)

Learn how to complete a "group trip" form (PDF 457 KB)

Access Safety Abroad - Queen's University Emergency Support Program for more pre-departure resources.

Cannabis and International Travel

The legalization of cannabis in Canada did not change Canada's border rules.  Taking cannabis or any product containing cannabis across Canada's international borders is illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad.  This is the case even if you are travelling to places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis.  Travelling across Canada's international borders with cannabis used for medical purposes is also illegal.  

Cannabis is illegal in most countries and previous use of cannabis, or any other substance prohibited by local law, could result in a traveler being denied entry to his or her destination country or in returning back to Canada. Each country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders and the Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination's entry or exit requirements.  It is the travellers responsibility to learn about the laws of the countries they intent to visit.  

Visit Global Affairs Canada (GAC) for more information on cannabis and international travel.  

Domestic Off Campus - Emergency Support 

If you find yourself in a situation that is deteriorating quickly please: 

Contact local emergency services within Canada by dialing "911", or if you are in a remote area contact your local Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment.

Don't forget to carry your Queen's University Emergency Contact Card with you while traveling (Collect calls will be accepted).

Pick one up at your department or faculty office, at the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, or print from here.

  

Safety Abroad and International Emergency Support 
Queen's University has partnered with International SOS  (ISOS) to provide out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. In the event of an emergency you can access International SOS to speak to a  doctor, get referred to a local health care provider, receive travel information and alerts, and assistance for immediate medical and security concerns. You can also contact International SOS prior to your travel for country-specific information. A network of multilingual specialists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 
If you find yourself in a situation that is deteriorating quickly please contact the appropriate agency, listed below, for assistance/support:

Emotional Support 

As a travelling student, staff or faculty member, there may be occasions when you are confronted with unexpected situations when you are in a foreign country. Recognizing that organizations need to cope with risks associated with travel, International SOS has selected WorkPlace Options - the world leading employee wellbeing company - to provide Emotional Support as part of a global wellbeing programme. This service has been designed to complement the benefits of Queen's University's International SOS membership and provides a more holistic global travel risk mitigation programme. 

What is Emotional Support and how do I access this service:

  • International SOS emotional support services assist mobile workforce in dealing with any psychological issues while they are away and for which short-term counselling is appropriate.
  • Accessing emotional support is easy: simply contact International SIS and they will transfer you to a professional counsellor from WorkPlace Options.
  • All call begin with assessment delivered by one of WorkPlace Options' professional mental health counsellors, which determines the appropriate level of intervention.
  • The assessment covers the presenting issue, support systems, coping strategies, background information, and a risk assessment.
  • The outcome is a plan with up to 5 sessions of structured counselling that covers the short-term focus including goals agreed upon with the participant. 
  • The therapy concentrates on helping individuals identify the skills, strengths, and resources that are already present and moves them towards a solution. 
  • Counselling methods are tailored to a mobile workforce: phone, video-call or face to face sessions are available. 

This is all about keeping you safe and health while travelling abroad! 

Don't forget to carry your Queen's University Emergency Contact Card with you while traveling (Collect calls will be accepted).

Pick one up at your department or faculty office or at the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

Set Up Your International SOS Emergency Support Account

Queen's University has partnered with International SOS  (ISOS) to provide out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. In the event of an emergency you can access International SOS to speak to a  doctor, get referred to a local health care provider, receive travel information and alerts, and assistance for immediate medical and security concerns. You can also contact International SOS prior to your travel for country-specific information. A network of multilingual specialists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So let's get that set up:

1. Download, print and carry the International Travel Emergency Contact Card. (You must log into the OCASP system using your Net ID for access to this card which includes the Queen's ISOS membership number)

2. Download the International SOS Assistance App on your smartphone (Use your Queen's email account and Queen's ISOS membership number to gain access to our member services!)

3. Check out the ISOS Assistance App User Guide.

4. Connect and browse around the International SOS portal. (You will need to enter your Queen's ISOS membership number to access this)

5. When you are in the portal don't forget to sign up for email alerts. eg. severe weather, political crisis, etc. in your country. (Click on the "Email Subscription" link on the left side bar to set it up) 

6. Download the Membership Pocket Guide.

7. Check out the Woman's Travel Risk Guide(Everyone should check this out...it has great info for all!)

Setting Up a New Off Campus Program
Off-campus Activity Departmental Handbook  - Under construction
 
Checklist for Queen's University Sanctioned International Activities

Checklist for Going Abroad

All students must complete the following steps prior to departure (all others are encouraged and sometimes required to do so as well):

  1. Queen's University has partnered with International SOS (ISOS) to provide out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. Access the International SOS (ISOS) webpage for the Queen's Membership number and details. Before you depart you need to:
    • Print off the Emergency Contact Card and carry it with you during your travels. (You must log into the OCASP system using your Net ID for access to this card)
    • Set up your ISOS account 
  2. Ensure that you have adequate out-of-country health insurance coverage, trip cancellation insurance, property insurance, etc. Review the Health Insurance Information Sheet (PDF 206KB) to assist you in reviewing your health coverage while abroad.
  3. Learn if you need to get specific immunizations for travel to (or through) your host country or countries. DrugSmart Pharmacy, located in the ARC, operates a travel medical clinic under the direction of Dr. Jay Keystone, a world-renowned expert on tropical medicine and senior author of the textbook Travel Medicine. 
  4. Register as a Canadian abroad at travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration  OR with your country of citizenship, if you are traveling on a non-Canadian passport.
  5. Consider an Emergency Action Plan (PDF 165 KB)
  6. Research your host country/culture prior to departure using the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Country Profiles and the International SOS portal. 
  7. Complete, submit and receive approval for the Off-Campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP) Safety Planning Record which includes the on-line Pre-Departure Orientation.
  8. NEW!  Cannabis Legalization -  On October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis became legal in Canada. This, however, did not change Canada’s border rules. Taking cannabis or any product containing cannabis across Canada’s international borders is illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad. This is the case even if you are travelling to places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis. Transporting cannabis used for medical purposes is also illegal. The federal government provides detailed information on cannabis and international travel.
Pre-departure Orientation

Pre-departure Orientation

To support Queen’s participants in their preparations for study, work and travel abroad, EH&S offers an on-line pre-departure orientation (PDO). All undergraduate students taking part in Queen’s University-sanctioned international activities are required to complete the on-line modules which are embedded in the Off-campus Activity Safety Policy – On-line Planning Tool.  All other participants are strongly encouraged to complete it.  The on-line PDO offers information on travel logistics, cross-cultural adjustment, health insurance, the Queen’s Emergency Support Program and more.

EH&S also offers in-person/group PDO sessions that can be customized to meet specific travel needs including crossing cultures/cultural adjustment, risk assessment and mitigation, country-specific information and more. For information or to book an in-person workshop please contact the Queen's University Off-campus Activity Health and Safety Team.

 We recommend that you use this list of extra safety resources when planning for your international experience:

Resources

Guidance in Completion of Online Forms:

Quick Reference Guide - Low-Risk International Travel During Covid-19 (PDF, 188 KB) 

COVID-19 Checklist for Low-Risk International Travel - This checklist must be completed and attached to all low-risk OCASP Emergency Support Program records.

Reference Sheet – Completion of Online form – Low-Risk Activity (PDF 412 KB)
Reference Sheet – Completion of Online form – Higher-Risk Activity (PDF 483 KB)
Reference Sheet – Completion of the Acceptance Process – Participant (PDF 457 KB)

Guidance in Policy Interpretation:

Reference Sheet – How Do I Comply with OCASP? (PDF 351 KB)
Reference Sheet – Where do I Start? (PDF 284 KB)
Reference Sheet – Risk Assessment (PDF 326 KB)
Reference Sheet – Responsibilities of the Person-in-Authority (PDF 339 KB)

Off-campus Activity Departmental Handbook - under construction

Example of a Comprehensive Safety Planning Record (PDF 354 KB)

Training
  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Field Safety Workshop
  • Considering Risk...How to complete the OCASP Safety Planning Record
  • Crossing Cultures  - Preparing to live, study and work as a cultural newcomer.
  • Program Emergency Contact Orientation

To learn more or to request a training session contact Queen’s University Off-campus Activity Health & Safety Team.

Re-Entry Support

Coming "home" after an international study/work program can be exciting, and also a little bewildering. Re-Entry is the adjustment process that you go through when you have returned from an experience abroad.   Some people call this re-adjustment "reverse culture shock" but unlike regular culture shock, it is often unexpected. It is important to know that there are people on campus who can relate to this adjustment and who are interested in hearing about your study/work abroad experience.  

                                                                 

We want you to remember that the experience and insights you have had abroad makes you a wonderful resource on campus.  Your experiences, perspectives gained and knowledge of other places:

  • Adds to the internationalization and diversity of our university academic and cultural community
  • Will be really helpful to those students interested in going abroad
  • Could also be an invaluable resource to international students studying at Queen's

We highly encourage you to build on your international experience and to get involved at Queen's so that we continue to create a campus that values international perspectives.  Here are some ways that you can do that.

  • Think about inviting an international student to join your housing group
  • Get involved in international without leaving campus
  • Attend Queen's University International Centre (QUIC) Events…watch their events calendar for upcoming activities
  • Volunteer at QUIC (e.g. QUIC's new World Link Volunteer Program, English Language Support programs, and International Student Orientation program)
  • Reach out to your faculty exchange - remember you are a great resource for other students considering exchange!
  • Consider your next international experiences at the annual Queen's Go Abroad Fair
  • Visit the AMS Clubs Page for information on Queen's international clubs and associations

Common Challenges of Re-entry

  • Boredom
  • No One Wants to Hear/”Snob”
  • You Can't Explain
  • Reverse "Homesickness"
  • Relationships have Changed
  • Inability to Apply New Knowledge and Skills
  • Feelings of Alienation/Loneliness/Compartmentalization of Experience
  • Loss/Grieving over Experience
  • Being Critical of Home/Contrasting cultures & lifestyles
  • Understanding the value of being away and the value of being here

Tips for transitioning to home

  • Recognize that this is a major transition. Mentally prepare for the adjustment process
  • Give yourself sufficient time and space to reflect on your experiences
  • Understand that the familiar will seem different
  • Beware of comparisons; try not to put down your home culture while lavishing praise on foreign cultures
  • Don’t focus on how much you miss; think about what’s ahead for you
  • Respond thoughtfully and carefully when asked about your time abroad
  • Seek support networks, connect with other exchange students, get involved
  • Remain flexible.  Balance reconnecting to old networks with cultivating new ones
  • Cultivate sensitivity by showing an interest in what others have been doing while you were away
  • Understand that not everyone will fully understand your abroad experience
  • Share your experiences; act as resources for others
  • Be a tourist at home!
  • Incorporate your experiences abroad into your academic work here
  • Get involved in the Queen’s and Kingston international communities
  • Hang out at QUIC! Get to know current international students studying here.  Remember, they are going through exactly what you did.
  • Seek out the Cross-cultural Counselor at Student Wellness Services - make an appointment to chat about your transition.

Coming Home/Re-Entry Workshops for students returning from an international experience are facilitated by Environmental Health and Safety each Fall and Winter terms.

General Re-entry Workshop - I'm back from abroad...now what?   --   Thursday September 13 from 5:30 - 7:30pm at QUIC in the JDUC! (click on the date for the video e-vite!)

Learn more or register for the Re-entry Workshop contact Queen’s University Off-campus Activity Health & Safety Team.