Trail volunteers are responsible for their own health and safety, and to ensure that their
actions don’t injure others. Leaders of group trail work trips are responsible for ensuring
trail workers understand safe tool use and that they follow those guidelines, and for
coordinating action in the event of serious injuries to or illness of workers or others the
group meets.
JHA Elements
Job Task: Construct and maintain trails.
Unit: Trail work volunteers
Required Safety Training
1. Health and physical fitness. Through self-study, understand basic body systems
and how they interact, measures to strengthen body and avoid injuries, and selfhelp first aid.
2. Hand tools. Self-study, tailgate briefings, workshops, and on-the-job instruction.
Leading a group to use grip hoists and high lines requires attending training
workshops, understanding hazards and safety measures associated with working
with block and tackle, and winches, and experience in using the tools.
3. Power tools.
a. Chainsaws. The use of chainsaws requires safety training and certification
arranged by the Club, and adherence to safety guidelines in the Job Hazard
Analysis - Chainsaws. If you are interested in certifying as a saw operator,
contact your District Manager.
b. Rock drills. Leading a group to use rock drills/hammers requires attending
workshops, understanding need for safety equipment and procedures, and
participation in work trips using the tools.
c. Other power tools. Read owners manual and follow operating/safety
4. Carrying and using tools. Read and understand guidance in this JHA and in the
discussion of trail tools.
Required Certification: None for trail work generally.
JHA Completion Date: April 2006
Update Review Due: Spring Trail Leadership meeting each year.
Supervisor of Trails s/s
Required Safety Equipment
1. When using power equipment, eye and ear protection and other personal
protection equipment prescribed for the tool.
2. For basic trail maintenance, carry a self-help first aid kit. For group trail work
trips, carry a group/chainsaw first aid kit fitted to treat multiple people and more
serious injuries (See Trail Worker First Aid). On all trips, carry a field expedient
shelter kit in case of bad weather or need to keep dry and warm injured/ill person.
3. Individuals allergic to insect bites carry prescribed medications (If an epi pen is
prescribed, individuals must inject themselves). Individuals who have asthma,
carry prescribed medications (If inhaler prescribed, individuals must treat
themselves). Individuals who are diabetics carry prescribed medications and food
or drinks to restore or maintain blood glucose levels (If insulin is prescribed,
individuals must inject themselves).
Recommended Safety Equipment
1. Safety glasses that protect against UV A and UV B, and that meet or exceed ANSI
Standard Z87.1 – 2003. Work gloves, long trousers, long sleeved shirt, gaiters,
shin guards, and boots with nonskid soles and firm ankle support, cap (360 degree
brim to protect against sunburn and developing skin cancer on nose, face, and
ears) (or hard hat with 6 point suspension if in wooded area and wind blowing).
Tick and mosquito repellants. Sun block (SPF 30+) and lip balm. Poncho or other
rain gear. Closed cell foam piece to sit on (Can also be used as field expedient
splint or as insulation in event of lightning or extended stay on trail).
2. Field Expedient Shelter Kit. Suggest section of plastic (e.g., light weight drop
cloth, about 8’ by 10’), 50’ of line, space age blanket, fire starter and 2 large
industrial strength trash bags. Need for field expedient shelter is slight, but
possible. If needed though, it may mean life or death.
Tools for the Job (See Trail Tools)
1. Clear organic duff and dig in and shape dirt. Rakes, pick mattocks, cutter
mattocks, McLeods, Rogue hoes, other heavy duty hoes, Pulaskis, shovels, pails,
post hole diggers, and digging/tamping bars.
2. Clear vegetation. Loppers (anvil loppers recommended), pruning saws (tri-cut
blades recommended), swing blade, power brush cutters and power trimmers,
power mowers (where appropriate), machetes, Woodsman’s Pal.
3. Clear downed trees and larger branches from trail, cut and take the bark off logs
for trail structures. Tri-cut pruning saws, bucking and crosscut saws, and
chainsaws (requires formal safety training and certification), axes (small hand axes
useful for removing bark); trimming and Hudson Bay axes useful with cross cut or
chain saws, or to cut and shape wood), and drawknives or bark spuds (remove
bark and sapwood that will rot easily).
4. Move and lift heavy rocks and trees. Rock bars, winches, high lines, block and
tackle, peaveys, log carriers, loop straps.
5. Shape and break up rocks. Rock chisels, drills, sledgehammers, rifting hammers.
6. Paint blazes. Paintbrushes with natural bristles, paint, squeeze bottle, 1 ½ “
scraper, 2 small cups (in which to put paint brushes), templates, rags, small bucket.
7. Pick up trash. Plastic trash bags.
1. Most trail work trips work duration are of 1-6 hours for one day trips, of 9 for two
day trips, and about 27 – 30 hours for five day trips. Multiple five day periods will
generally be broken by one or two days of rest. While working, breaks are taken
for food and rest, and to drink water. Individuals set their own work pace and
drink water to stay hydrated. Groups generally range from 1 to 3 people for basic
maintenance, to 3 to 20 people for major maintenance or trail construction.
2. Work sites will be in wooded or cleared areas in urban, suburban, rural, or
mountainous areas. Some may be in wetlands or swamps. Work sites may be on
flat terrain, but usually are on slopes, sometimes rocky and steep.
3. From trailheads or base camps, one way access to and egress from work sites will
vary from less than one mile to long distances, generally not exceeding five miles.
Walking involves ascending and descending slopes, sometimes steep, and
traversing trails that may be well groomed or rough, or involve bushwhacking.
The minimum time for emergency response or rescue personnel to reach work
sites will be about 20 minutes, but will usually be longer.
4. Trail workers carry to work sites supplies and tools on their backs and in their
hands (Minimum weight generally 10 to 15 pounds for basic maintenance,
maximum about 50 pounds if such things as grip hoists are carried). When
conditions are suitable, wheelbarrows or other load bearing wheeled vehicles may
be used to transport very heavy or bulky materiel such as grip hoists and highline
sets, power rock drills/hammers, generators, cement, wood, etc.
Hazard//Avoidance measure (All Work Trips)
1. Weather conditions make trip and trail work dangerous, either before setting out or
while working, e.g., extreme cold or hot, high temperatures and high humidity,
high winds, thunderstorms/lightning, heavy rain, snow storm/blizzard, warnings of
possible tornados // Cancel or delay work trip and clear out of woods or cleared
area where working, get off ridge lines/cleared areas and stand or squat on foam
pad or pack to avoid lighting, start or resume work trip only when weather
conditions permit.
2. Adverse environment (e.g., cold, hot and humid, rain, snow), necessary to stay on
or near trail for several hours or overnight (e.g., sudden storm, ill or injured person
unable to walk, with risk of hypothermia or heat exhaustion and shock)//Build
field-expedient shelter (e.g., lean to made from dead limbs and with plastic as
cover, cord (or green vines in a pinch) used to lash limbs together and tie cover to
trees, rocks, or manufactured stakes (Put pieces of wood or small rocks under
plastic and tie cord around them to hold plastic securely). Collect leaves to make
insulated surface so victims and work party are off the ground (Ground is usually
about 55 degrees. Body in contact loses about 1 degree of temperature each hour).
Use pieces of closed cell foam to sit upon. Build as needed walls to block wind
and blowing rain/snow. Use trash bags to hold leaves or cut hole for head and use
as emergency poncho. If necessary, mound dirt and start fire at front of lean to.
When shelter no longer needed, break up and scatter pieces in woods, put out fire
completely and scatter dirt.
Hazards//Avoidance measures (Individual responsibility)
1. Lack of knowledge leading to heedless practices that endanger health and safety of
themselves and others// Basic knowledge of body systems. The why and
symptoms of dehydration, hypothermia, and overheating and measures to prevent
these (In general, few injuries happen on trail work trips. The most severe are
likely to be the result of becoming dehydrated, overheated or too cold and
consequent falls. Prevention is the best cure so knowledge and practices that
minimize chances of becoming dehydrated, too hot or too cold, or falling, are
advisable.) Carry water and keep body hydrated. Physical fitness to hike to work
site while carrying tools, and to perform trail work. Eat food to maintain strength.
2. Tetanus, minor cuts, nosebleeds, blisters on hands, abrasions or splinters, sunburn,
tick or mosquito bites, and infections// Keep tetanus shots current. Wear long
trousers tucked into socks and gaiters, long sleeved shirt tucked in, hat, and work
gloves. Use sunscreen on exposed skin and lip balm on lips. Spray mosquito/tick
repellants on clothes. Check body for ticks each day and remove if found. Clean,
treat and bandage cuts, abrasions, and insect bites. Stop nosebleeds.
3. Blisters on feet, ankle sprain//Wear properly fitted boot with good ankle support.
Wear wick dry socks. Break in boots and toughen feet for walking on rough
surfaces for long distances carrying weights (Same as preparing for backpacking).
Treat and bandage sprained ankle. Fashion crutch if needed to hike out.
4. Eye injury from sunlight, snow blindness, or foreign object//Wear safety glasses or
goggles with UV A and UV B protection.
5. Allergic reaction to bee, wasp, or other insect bite. Asthmatic closing of
airway//Shots to reduce allergic reaction, wear neutral colors, avoid perfumes and
underarm deodorants, if prescribed, carry epi-pens, anti-histamines, or inhalers,
self-administer medications if needed.
6. Diabetic – high or low blood glucose levels, diabetic coma//Measure blood
glucose levels before trips, eat food before trip per doctor guidance to maintain
glucose in normal range when walking under load and while working. Snack on
foods and drink water to maintain blood volume and energy during work trips.
Build up muscle mass and exercise to develop endurance. Walk and work at
moderate to slow pace. Rest if muscle fatigue is felt or low sugar symptoms
manifest themselves.
7. Falls with broken bones, concussion, puncture wounds, or other serious injury.
Muscle fatigue, tendon strains, pulled muscles, or torn ligaments//Strengthen
muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and develop balance, through exercises. Warm
up and stretch muscles before hiking to work site, walk carefully at moderate to
slow pace to avoid tripping. Carry tools on downhill side not on shoulder. Toss
tools downhill if you fall. Lift heavy objects using leg strength not back. Work at
a pace comfortable to you, know and adhere to your own limitations. (Don’t
compete with others who are younger and stronger. No medals or awards are
given for speed or digging to China.). Periodically take breaks and stretch
muscles, drink water, and eat food.
8. Dehydration that causes dizziness and confusion due to inadequate blood volume,
and excessive body heating or cooling//Bring and drink water sufficient for
weather and work conditions. Wear clothing in layers appropriate to weather
conditions AT THE WORK SITE (Know the altitude at which work will be done
and the characteristics of the work site, e.g., temperatures decrease about five
degrees for each 1000 feet of altitude gain, lowland wooded areas on hot days
have very high humidity, with woods blocking any cooling breeze). Adjust
clothing to maintain normal body temperature. Be prepared for weather changes.
9. Choking on food//Take small bites and chew thoroughly before swallowing.
Apply Heimlich maneuver if someone chokes or clear with fingers (NOTE: If
alone, you must administer Heimlich maneuver to yourself, prevention is best).
10. Being hit by tool by approaching from the rear without the tool user’s
knowledge//If someone is swinging a tool or using a power tool, stay a safe
distance away until you can get their attention and they stop using the tool.
11. Poisonous snake or spider bite// Keep alert for snake or spider presence. Rap on
logs before sitting down or reaching under logs. If snake sighted, stay away at a
minimum 1.5 times the guestimated length of the snake (Rattlers and copperheads
are reported to be able to strike their length. To be safe, stay further away.). Give
the snake time to move away. If snake presence has been reported or is likely,
wear snake proof leggings or trousers, and gloves. If bitten, stay calm. Use
Sawyer extractor kit per directions. Keep bitten area below heart. Do not apply
cold compress or ice. Evacuate as soon as possible, moving at deliberate pace.
Call 911 to be met at trailhead by ambulance, inform them of snake bite and
estimated type of snake.
Hazards//Avoidance measures (Group leader responsibility)
1. Group members unaware how they should carry and use tools and do work
safely//Safety brief to group before setting out on trip and when inexperienced
people start to work at work site. Explain potential hazards from work the group
will be doing. Space people out at work site so they won’t hit one another in the
normal course of swinging tools. Ensure people using such things as Pulaskis or
axes have experience in their use before permitting them to use the tools, or
instruct them and closely supervise their use of the tool. If using grip hoists,
explain safety rules after gear is set up and before using the tool. Ensure each
person is wearing safety hats and gloves and knows what they are to do. If using
chainsaws or crosscut saws to clear large trees, explain to swampers where they
are to stand and what precautions they need to observe to avoid injury.
2. Trail workers following unsafe practices while carrying tools or accomplishing
trail work, putting themselves or others at risk//Stop the workers and caution them,
explaining the unsafe practice. Slow them down if appropriate.
3. Large rocks or trees falling down a steep slope and injuring someone below//If
working where large rocks or logs may be dislodged and roll down a hill, ensure
workers are informed of dangers and precautions that need to be taken. Closely
supervise the workers involved and stop them if some one is in a location where
they could be injured (People engrossed in their work can lose awareness and sight
of others around or approaching them).
4. Serious injury (Broken or crushed bones or joints, dislocated joints, severe
bleeding, impalement, amputated limbs, or head blows) to trail worker, or to
hikers or others the group meets, that requires evacuation//
a. Prepare as quickly as possible a written statement that: reports nature of
injury/health emergency and number of people requiring evacuation. State
clearly nature of injury, why victim(s) cannot walk out, and urgency of
need for response. Estimate victim(s) height and weight. State how injury
happened and victim(s) condition (s). Identify where victim(s) is/are
located, nearest trailhead/access trail, and approximate distance to
victim(s). State directions to nearest trailhead/access road from primary or
secondary road. Send someone with cell phone and extra batteries to call
emergency numbers, and if necessary to wait for and guide responders.
b. Do scene assessment, make scene safe to reach victim(s), and if necessary,
move victim(s) to safe area without putting spine at risk (such as up a steep
incline if they fell off the trail), put victim(s) head and neck in traction,
check airways, breathing, circulation, and for disability (nerve damage), if
necessary, clear airways and restore breathing, stop serious bleeding and
bandage same, immobilize spine and neck, treat and bandage dislocated
joints, set and splint or bandage broken bones, take vital signs and observe
for signs of hypothermia and shock; initiate avoidance measures if
appropriate. If hostile environmental conditions exist, construct field
expedient shelter and insulated bed to protect victim(s) from harmful
effects of environment. Stabilize for evacuation and periodically monitor
and record vital signs.
5. Allergic reaction, loss of body heat, excessive body heat by trail worker or others
the group meets//
a. Observe trail workers for signs of respiratory problems; if detected, slow
them down or require them to rest and take anti-histamines, direct they
evacuate if respiratory problems persist (detail someone to accompany
them to trailhead).
b. Observe trail workers for signs of body chilling or over-heating. If
suspected, direct adjustment of clothing, drinking of water, rest, and other
measures to prevent dehydration, hypothermia, or heat exhaustion. If
necessary, direct evacuation; detail someone to escort victim(s) to the
trailhead and if necessary to drive them to a hospital.
c. Persons showing signs of heat exhaustion: take steps to cool them down,
initiate measures to avoid shock, send someone to call for emergency
response, and detail people to escort victim(s) to trailhead when stabilized.
d. Persons showing signs of hypothermia, initiate measures to warm them and
shelter them from elements. Evacuate when stabilized.
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