Work Gloves

Work gloves are the number one item you need to bring to a workday. Without them, it is hard to accomplish the task at hand - no pun intended - without the risk of cuts or abrasions. As there are different types of gloves you can purchase, we will look at each type and how it stands up to a workday.

Leather Gloves

The best all-round glove you can buy is made out of cowhide leather. They have good flexibility, excellent abrasion and puncture resistance, and will even provide some insulation during the winter months. This makes them the best glove for brush handling, as they will provide the most protection from thorns. A single pair may last a season or two, depending on how much volunteering you do. I normally buy a basic pair, costing somewhere in the range of $10-12; I see no reason to spend anything more.

Keep in mind that they have limited moisture resistance, so may become soaked when handling wet or snow-covered branches. In that case, I'd say have a second pair on hand to switch into.

For when temperatures drop below freezing, you may consider insulated leather gloves that are lined with fleece.

Leather Palm Gloves

The second style of gloves are those that only have leather on the palm and knuckles, elsewhere being cotton. These are more budget friendly work gloves, and you can often pick up a set of three for under ten bucks. While they are suitable for handling brush, they are not as durable as leather gloves. As stores often stock only one size, they tend to be "clunkier", thereby losing some dexterity in the hands. I try to keep a set just in case people show up without gloves.

Garden Gloves

The third style are what I describe as garden gloves - your woven variety with latex covering the palms and fingers. These gloves offer little to no protection when handling brush, as sharp thorns and prickles can easily pierce the fabric.

I would reserve these gloves for the summer activities such as pulling weeds and collecting seed.

Latex Gloves

As latex gloves are chemical resistant, they are primarily used when handling herbicide.

Personal Protective Equipment

Safety Glasses

Our sight is the most precious and delicate of senses, so it is baffling that many of us take it for granted and don't wear eye protection performing hazardous tasks. I know I am guilty of this. While not a requirement at workdays, volunteers are encouraged to wear safety glasses, especially when cutting brush. I will do my best to be a better example, and make sure I have plenty of safety glasses on hand. So if you need a pair, please ask for some.

If like me you wear spectacles, then you might want to pop to your local home improvement store and buy a pair designed to fit overs the glass. This is not something I have a supply of.

Knee Pads

While most of the time we are on our feet, we occasionally have to kneel down in order to cut a stump at ground level - and for this - kneepads can be a blessing. This is especially true when the ground is wet, muddy, or covered in snow, and having wet pants isn't really your thing. Likewise, whenever I have to cut a thousand resprouts, I am usually crawling on my knees with pruners in one hand and herbicide in the other.

Ice Cleats

During the winter, snow and ice presents a slip and fall hazard, and this risk can be mitigated by the use of ice cleats. These are devices that fit over the shoe, and have metal spikes underneath to improve traction. I actually have two sets of ice cleats, but have yet to put them to use. However, as I start to work in flooded areas that have frozen solid, they will prove to be invaluable.

PPE for Gas Powered Equipment

The personal protective equipment below is only required when operating one of the gas-powered tools, namely the chainsaw, brushsaw or weedwhip.


The only time a helmet is required during workday is when operating one of the gas-powered tools. Helmets are designed to protect your head from blows, either falling or flying objects, or any kickback that may occur when using a chainsaw. The helmet will also include a fine mesh face shield that protects debris from hitting your face, and earmuffs to protect your hearing from the loud noice.


These pants are designed to protect your legs when operating the chainsaw. They consist of many layers of long Kevlar threads that, in the event of an accident, will be pulled into the saw's drive sprocket causing the saw to jam within one rotation. All buckles should be fastened and adjusted for a snug fit, keeping the chaps positioned correctly on the legs; chaps should extend 2 inches below the tops of boots. Chaps should be inspected before and after use for any cuts, as this can negatively affect the fibres within. Report any problems to Natural Resources upon returning.

Steel Toed Boots

In order to operator a chainsaw, volunteers must wear steel toed boots with a good tred. It is advisable to break in any new boots before working with the saw.

Chainsaw Gloves

While these gloves are not a requirement, they will provide better protection to your hands against kickback and vibration. While regular leather gloves are acceptible, having a specialized pair means they are not used for other worday activities, resulting in less wear and tear. Chainsaw gloves are also more form fitting and with a better grip.

Ear Plugs

Ear plugs and earmuffs are essential for protecting your hearing from equipment with a noise level of 85 decibels or above, which is the minimum OSHA requirement. Without hearing protection, the hair cells inside your inner ear can be permanently damaged, leading to eventual hearing loss.

Decibels are a way of measuring the intensity of sound, and it important to realize that the scale is logarithmic; this means every 10db increase is actually ten times louder. So 80 Db is actually 100 times louder than 60db.

As an average gas chainsaw has a noise level of between 110-120 decibels, the permissible exposure dose without protection is no more than 2 minutes per day. This is why hearing protection is a must - anything longer than that risk permanant hearing loss. Therefore, operators should be using both earmuffs AND ear plugs for the best possible protection.

For volunteers working nearby, decibels can be reduced by putting distance between you and the source. When it comes to sound, a rule known as the inverse-square law applies, which translates to a reduction of 6 decibels every time the distance from the source is doubled. Given that the sound pressure level is usually measured at one meter, so we can compile the following table listed the distance from a chainsaw and the number of decibels.:

Distance Decibels
meter feet Low High
1 3.5 110 120
5 16.5 96 106
10 33.5 90 100
20 65.5 84 94
30 98.5 80.5 90.5
40 131 78 88
50 164 76 86
100 328 70 80