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IMBA Tool Safety Tips

Safety is paramount in any kind of trail work. Sharp tools, difficult ground, weather, fatigue and natural hazards can cause injuries. Trail crews should wear sturdy boots and gloves. Long pants and long-sleeve shirts are recommended. Eye protection and hard hats are a good idea too.


Crew leaders should start each workday with reminders about tool safety and the emergency plan. Cover these points, which are outlined in Building Better Trails, published by IMBA:

  1. Carry tools at the side, not on a shoulder.
  2. Carry tools with the sharpest side facing down.
  3. Carry only one tool in each hand.
  4. When carrying just one tool, hold it in the downhill hand.
  5. While working, maintain at least a tool-length distance to the next person.
  6. If a tool must be raised higher than waist level, advise nearby workers.
  7. Before walking past others using tools, announce yourself and make eye contact before passing.
  8. Lay tools down on the uphill side with handles pointing towards the trail.
  9. Stay alert for environmental hazards such as poison ivy, stinging insects, poisonous creatures, sunstroke, altitude sickness, dehydration, hypothermia, and so on.
  10. Crew members with medical conditions must have their medication with them. Know who is susceptible to heart problems, bee-sting allergies, asthma and other common ailments.
  11. Drink, eat and rest adequately. Avoid fatigue to reduce accidents.


East Boundary brush trimming by R. Duchak

McLeods on Hazard Peak Trail by R. Duchak


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