Tool Talks

Safe Tool Use


Key to delivering safe, quality activity on your chosen site is the understanding and demonstration of safe tool use during any work party.

Volunteers with gardening equipment



When leading an activity on site, you will need to make an assessment of the risks involved in tasks where tools and equipment are being used and take action to reduce the risk of injury arising from improper use or handling.


Some of the key principles in safe tool handling and use are:

  • Plan what needs to be used, moved and handled, in advance; where is it going, how will it be moved safely
  • Can lifting heavy machinery or tools be avoided by using a different approach to the task?  Can a different tool be used or the task carried out ina  different way?
  • Ask that all participants be aware of their own physical limitations and gain help in moving any heavy objects.
  • Avoid twisting and bending when lifting, moving and using equipment; keep your back straight and avoid using your back to do the work.
  • Ensure you have a good gruip on your tool and that you are not just using your fingertips.


General Rules for the Safe Use of Hand Tools

Some guidance on the use of specific tools can be found below, however, there are a few basic pricinples of which you need to be aware:

Always ensure that you are using the correct tool for the job i.e. a saw blade is not a screwdriver
Always ensure that you have a safe working space between you and the next person and you are not using tools in such a way that someone else will be injured if you slip or drop your tool
Only use tools which are in good condition. If tools are blunt, cracked, rusty or broken (whether handle or blade, etc), do not use this tool
Only use a tool if you have a good understanding of its use or are being overseen by someone suitably experienced
It is the group leader’s responsibility to ensure that tool talks take place and to ensure that there is adequate understanding in their use by group members.


Below are documents which demonstrate the safe use and handling of tools.

Muddy Faces has produced this guidance on the safe use of loppers for anyone aged 4 and over.

Download here.

Forest School Wales have prepared a sheet with safe use and storage information on a range of tools, including

You can download it here.


Leading a Tool Talk

When sharing this information. it is useful to have an interactive tool talk (discussion and demonstration, in which participants mirror the safe use demonstration). Forest schools portfolio have produced basic tool talk guidance, which can be found as follows:

Tool Talk – Bill Hook Tool Talk – Bowsaw Tool Talk – Loppers Tool Talk – Knife

If you are in any doubt about the  safe use of a tool, then working with that tool must not take place.  If you would like to receive guidance in the use of tools or in the delivery of a particular activity, please contact your Community Green Spaces Project Manager to arrange this.


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