Job Number 1

Trail maintainers and volunteers must understand that some aspects of trail maintenance work can be dangerous.

Without precaution, injury can occur, whether with cutting tools or digging tools or lifting heavy loads such as rocks.

Safety

Objective

Safety is a primary concern of PATC and you as a volunteer must be aware of the inherent dangers.

  • Each volunteer must wear proper clothing for the season and the activity,.
  • Each must take whatever individual precautions are necessary.
  • Work trip leaders must take reasonable precautions to promote safety, and ensure a First Aid kit is available.
  • Everyone on a work crew must have appropriate clothing and sufficient water for the season and weather.

The VIP Act

Congress passed the Volunteers in Park Act (VIP) in 1969 and the Volunteers in National Forests Act in 1972 (VIF) to provide injury or illness compensation and other protection for volunteers working in the National Parks and Forests. To be covered, volunteers have to be authorized as such by the USFS or NPS. Both agencies use Form of301A—Volunteer Services Agreement for Natural Agencies—to authorize individual or group volunteer work and coverage. As members of a recognized partner organization, the NPS and USFS also authorize PATC volunteers under group agreement (Form 1800-8) with the Club. An overarching of301A reflecting will be signed by the club president or his delegated representative each time a MOU with the NPS or USFS is signed or renewed. When working on NPS or USFS land where PATC does not have a formal agreement and is not therefore an authorized NPS or USFS partner, a separate of301A form for each individual work trip must be filed with the appropriate agency to ensure VIF/VIP coverage. Crews or individuals working on the AT corridor fall under the Appalachian Trail Park Office and are included in the ATC agreement with the NPS.

This protection is only valid if you are signed up with the NPS or USDA Forest Service unit as a PATC member or guest.

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Applicability

As a volunteer, each time you participate in a work trip, make sure you're listed on the sign-up sheet, and make sure you use appropriate safety equipment. Coverage only applies while you are on the job, not driving to or from the work trip. And if, heaven forbid, you have an accident, have the injury treated right away—and report it the same day to your agency partner.

Reporting

If an injury occurs, follow these five steps:

  1. Immediately seek care and First Aid
  2. Obtain emergency treatment by a medical provider, if needed (inform agency authorities first, if possible)
  3. Report the injury to the appropriate agency authorities
  4. Document the incident
  5. Follow-up with appropriate authorities, as needed

You can download and print the forms and guidance for the VIP program:

  • VIP Instructions
  • ATC Trail Hazards descriptions
  • Authorization for Examination and Treatment
  • VIP Notice of Injury
  • Volunteer Injury Label form

Power Tools

Operators must know how to operate tools safely. When using power tools, (i.e. chain saws and weeders), proper protective equipment must be worn. Ensure all power tools are adequately maintained.

Chainsaws

Chain sawyers must be trained and certified by either the NPS or the USDA Forest Service to use chainsaws anywhere on the A.T. and in Shenandoah National Park. Sawyers must be accompanied by at least one person and must always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when working. Chainsaw PPE consists of:

  • Sturdy boots
  • Chainsaw chaps
  • Gloves
  • A safety helmet with eye and ear protection

Brushcutters

You must wear eye protection (safety glasses and/or visor shields) and hearing protection (earplugs or earmuffs) when using gasoline-powered weeders.