Start with "Safety First"
Think safety first in how you improve a site, how you work and how you safeguard others. If it's not safe don't do it.
Use Protective Personal Gear
You must wear gloves, boots, and long pants. A long-sleeved shirt and eye protection (safety glasses, sunglasses or glasses) is recommended. You will be provided with a hard hat that must be worn while working. You should also have appropriate cold/wet weather gear. Wet or muddy gloves may cause a tool to slip and strike someone; have extras handy. Take a complete first aid kit and know how to use it.
Use Correct Tools in Good Condition
Incorrect tools can make the job take longer, result in injuries, damage the tools and create the wrong effect at the site. Dull tools can be very dangerous by bouncing or glancing of surfaces; they also cut more slowly and are therefore more tiring. Notify your crew leader if you encounter a dull tool so that it can be tagged for sharpening.
Carry Tools Safely
Always carry tools in your hands and down at your side, not over the shoulder. For long distances, strap unused tools to your pack. Use blade guards whenever possible. On slopes, carry the tool on the downslope side of your body. When carrying two tools, have the more dangerous tool downslope of you. Balance heavy weights, especially when repeating tasks such as carrying buckets of rock.
Eliminate Area Hazards
Be extra cautious on hazardous footing such as loose rock, branches, vines, slippery moss and clay surfaces. Before starting to work, remove obstacles and debris from your working space overhead, underfoot, and in tool swinging area. Place tools and materials safely aside where they don't present a hazard. Take a firm, balanced and comfortable stance before using a tool.
Use Body Motion Wisely
Conserve motion and effort; use short chops, not long swings. Protect your back by bending at the knees with Pulaski and hoes, use your knee as an arm support whenever possible. Change tasks as needed to avoid repetitive motion syndrome.
Ensure others are always outside the combined length of your arm and tool. Make sure there is no one downhill who may be struck by materials from you or your co-workers. Watch for trail users who may try to walk around you without getting your attention. When someone comes by, stop work, notify your co-workers, and wait for the person to pass. When practical, use portable signage to warn trail users to watch for a work party in progress.
Guidelines developed by the Volunteers for Outdoor Washington and adapted by Washington Trails Association.