Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

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Off Campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP)

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.  

Safety Abroad and Emergency Support

If, while traveling outside of Canada, you find yourself in need of emergency assistance please see the Safety Abroad and Emergency Response page for detailed instructions.

Domestic Off Campus - Emergency Support 
If you find yourself in a situation that is deteriorating quickly please: 

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.

Setting Up a New Program
Off-campus Activity Departmental Handbook  - Under construction

Guidance in Completion of Online Forms:

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)

  • 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.