Skid steer loaders are one of the most useful pieces of heavy equipment in any fleet, offering power and versatility in a compact package. But just because they’re smaller than many other types of heavy equipment, that doesn’t mean they’re any less of a potential safety risk.
Any machine at the job site can cause injury or death to operators or crew on the ground, as well as damage to other equipment or materials. By following sensible safety procedures, though, this risk can be greatly mitigated. Most accidents are the direct result of inattention, cutting corners, or ignoring standard safety protocols.
Of particular note, workers attempting to operate the machine from outside the cab is a relatively common cause of death involving skid steers. This can and does result in being crushed by moving parts (under the attachment, between the attachment and the frame, between the lift arms and the frame or the cab, etc.).
Review these basic tips for skid steer loader safety to help prevent any mishaps.
Skid Steer Loader Safety Tips
- Anyone operating a skid steer loader must be trained to use it
- Keep the OEM manual readily accessible for information about operations, safety features, maintenance, troubleshooting, and more
- Follow the recommended preventive maintenance schedule to keep skid steers working safely and at peak power and efficiency
- Always perform thorough heavy equipment inspections before and after use
- Pay close attention to the security of the attachment when making an inspection
- Never use a skid steer loader with malfunctioning components, controls, or features, or any indication of damage; make sure any machine with a problem is immediately removed from work areas and clearly identified as needing service
- Only one person should be in the cab at a time, with the seat belt fastened at all times that the machine is in use
- Operate the skid steer from inside the cab only
- Keep all body parts inside the cab during operation
- Nobody should ever ride on the exterior of the machine, in the bucket, or on any other attachment
- Nobody should ever be under a raised attachment (unless, when necessary, the lift arms are properly secured with approved lift arm supports)
- Don’t ever intentionally bypass, disable, or modify the skid steer loader’s built-in safety mechanisms
- The default position for the bucket should always be lowered to the ground
- Only enter and exit the skid steer with the engine off, the lift arms down, and the attachment lowered to the ground
- Never exceed the maximum load capacity; lift loads slowly and smoothly
- Evenly distribute loads in the bucket and on other attachments
- Move loads with the attachment as low to the ground as possible, especially on slopes, while turning, and on rough ground conditions
- Drive at safe speeds, and reduce speed on slopes, uneven or loose terrain, and when turning
- The heavier end of the loader should always be pointed uphill
- Stay clear of ledges and the edges of trenches