Safety and Training

Volunteer Protocols During COVID-19

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Working on the A.T. involves inherent risk, but those risks can be minimized through planning, communication, training, and equipment. Every one is responsible for safety and the safety of our co-workers. Seeking and receiving the proper certifications or training for each Trail task is an essential component of safety.

The most important safety rule is this: Each volunteer has the obligation to say “No” and walk away from any situation they determine to be an unacceptable risk.
Basic safety equipment for all trail work includes a first-aid kit, sturdy boots, work gloves, long pants, and appropriate dress for the weather and conditions.

Safety Fundamentals

JHA Library

The job hazard analyses (JHAs) posted below provide information on potential hazards, safety gear, and safety recommendations for various types of trail work. They are intended as guidelines and may not be comprehensive. Trail Maintenance Tasks, Hazards, and Recommended Safety Gear and the JHAs appropriate to the work planned should be reviewed by all participants before every work trip on the Appalachian Trail.

APPA – Fundamentals: Activities in the Field JHA (2018)
APPA – Trail Work with Hand Tools JHA (2018)
APPA – Working During COVID-19 Pandemic JHA (2021)

APPA – Trash-Garbage Removal JHA (2020)
APPA – Waste Facility (Privy) Management JHA (2020)
APPA – Portable Electric Tools JHA (2019)
APPA – Walk-Behind Mower JHA (2021)
APPA – String Trimmer and Brush Cutter Operation JHA (2021)
APPA – Riding Mower Operations JHA (2021)
APPA – Ladder Operations JHA (2021)
APPA – Power Pole Saw – Gas or Battery Powered JHA (2021)

APPA – Electric Shop Tools JHA (2019)
APPA – Hand Trail Tool Maintenance in Shop JHA (2019)

APPA – Crosscut Saw JHA (2018)
APPA – Chainsaw Operations JHA (2021)
APPA – Rock Work JHA (2019)
APPA – Rigging Griphoist JHA (2020)
APPA – Portable Gas Generator JHA (2021)
APPA – Making Public Contact JHA (2021)
APPA – Mechanized Rock Drill JHA (2021)
APPA – Working with Paints, Stains, & Solvents JHA (2021)
APPA – Working with Treated Wood & Preservatives JHA (2021)

APPA – Specialized Pesticides JHA (2020)
APPA – Office Work Station JHA (2019)
APPA – Food Preparation JHA (2019)

USFS – R8 – Chainsaw JHA (2012)
USFS – R8 – Crosscut JHA (2012)
USFS – R8 – General Trail Maintenance JHA (2012)
USFS – R8 – Herbicide Applicator JHA (2011)
USFS – R8 – Natural Resource Monitoring JHA (2012)
USFS – GW-Jeff (George Washington & Jefferson National Forests) – Working During COVID-19 Pandemic JHA (2021)
USFS – GW-Jeff (George Washington & Jefferson National Forests) – Waste Facility (Privy) Management JHA (2021)
USFS – GW-Jeff (George Washington & Jefferson National Forests) – Trash-Garbage Removal JHA (2021)
USFS – GW-Jeff (George Washington & Jefferson National Forests) – Working with Paints, Stains, and Solvents JHA (2021)
USFS – GW-Jeff (George Washington & Jefferson National Forests) – Working with Treated Wood and Preservatives JHA (2021)
USFS – GW-Jeff (George Washington & Jefferson National Forests) – Performing Work Activities with Hand Tools JHA (2022)
USFS – GW-Jeff (George Washington & Jefferson National Forests) – Performing Work Activities in the Field JHA (2022)
USFS – GW-Jeff (George Washington & Jefferson National Forests) – Hand Trail Tool Maintenance JHA (2022)

USFS Health and Safety Code Handbook
Interagency Hardhat Inspection Guide
USDA FS Tech Tip Hardhat Inspection and Maintenance


Volunteer Protections

Volunteers on the Appalachian Trail are enabled through Volunteer Service Agreements with the National Park Service or the USDA Forest Service.

More about Volunteer Service Agreements
Volunteer Service Descriptions
Volunteer Roster

Each time you volunteer, make sure you are listed on a volunteer roster, that you review dangers of specific tasks to reduce injury to yourself or others, and that you track and report hours and accomplishments.

Sample Roster

In the event of an accident, this toolkit helps you file a claim. Each volunteer should carry an injury packet with them for any volunteer activity.


Visit the Training Page to select from online training modules on Volunteer Orientation, Trail Maintenance, Corridor Stewardship, Trail Safe!, opportunities from the Appalachian Trail Volunteer Academy, and other resources.

Trail Safe! is a unique safety program designed specifically for National Park Service trail volunteers. It’s based on NPS Operational Leadership Training, where the human factor of safety is explored.


Field Leadership Toolkit


Tips for Safety Sessions


Request Field Leadership Hangtags for Tailgate Safety Briefing, Ongoing Work Day Safety, Leadership Checklist, and Tool Talk
Work Trip Roster
Emergency Response Plan

Recommended First Aid Kit Supply Lists

Essential tools for for planning your next A.T. project from start to finish.

Work Trip Planning Resources
Sample Check-in/Checkout Planner

Volunteer Injury Packet

An authorized volunteer working on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail under the auspices of one of the designated Trail maintaining clubs or ATC is entitled to certain protections under programs managed by either the U.S. Forest Service (Volunteers in Forests) or the National Park Service (Volunteers in Parks) through an individual or a group volunteer agreement. These volunteer protections are especially important in case an injury occurs involving an A.T. volunteer while at work. These protections apply if the volunteer is following the guidelines and standards provided by the club, ATC, or agency

If an injury occurs, a volunteer should follow these five steps:

  1.  Immediate care and First Aid
  2. Emergency treatment by a medical provider, if needed (inform agency authorities first, if possible.)
  3. Reporting of the injury to the appropriate agency authorities
  4. Documentation
  5. Follow-up

The documents listed below make up a packet of information about dealing with injuries suffered by A.T. volunteer workers. We recommend that a paper copy of this packet be carried by each A.T. volunteer work leader. Volunteers should be familiar with the contents of this packet, and should complete specific local contact information on the instruction sheet before an accident resulting in injury occurs.

Volunteer Injury Packet

Note: Form CA-16 cannot be posted online; Request packets from ATC that include this form.

Injuries should also be reported to ATC. Complete the ATC Accident Report Form and send to [email protected] and to your ATC regional office.