The 3 Big Skid Steer Safety Tips You Need To Know When Operating or Working Near One

With all types of construction projects ramping up for spring and summer work, it’s a good time for safety reminders. The National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health have created a detailed bulletin titled “Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid Steer Loaders.” You can download this publication to use in training sessions, but we thought it important to pass along these three key skid steer safety tips:

  1. Follow safe procedures for entering and exiting the skid steer.
  • Never climb onto the loader unless the lift-arm supports are in place or the bucket is resting flat on the ground.
  • To climb aboard, face the machine and maintain three points of contact on the steps and handholds.
  • Do not climb on hand or foot controls.
  • When it’s time to exit, do not leave your seat before lowering the bucket to the ground, setting the parking brake and then turning off the engine.
  • Do not leap off the skid steer — follow the same three-point-contact procedure to exit.
  • Clean the walkways and other working surfaces so the machine is ready to go for the next day or shift.
  1. Follow safe operating procedures.

For personal safety:

  • Never attempt to operate the machine from the outside. The operator’s compartment is not only efficient, it’s a place of safety for operators.
  • Sit down when operating the skid steer, so you can maintain your balance.
  • Keep your legs, arms and head inside the cab when it’s in use.
  • Wear your seatbelt while working. Make sure the restraint bar is in place. Never disable any safety device.
  • Make sure bystanders or workers on the ground are far enough away to see them and avoid injury.

For safe operation:

  • Try not to turn the machine or load/unload where the ground is not level, to avoid tipping. Never travel across slopes but straight up and down. The heavy end of the machine should face uphill.
  • Do not operate the skid steer on unstable ground.
  • Always hold the bucket in the lowest possible position when traveling or turning.
  1. Follow proper maintenance procedures.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for service and preventive maintenance. A machine that has not been properly maintained is an open invitation to safety violations and accidents.
  • Clean the foot controls as often as needed to keep them free of mud, snow, ice or debris.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain safety belts, restraint bars, side screens, interlocked controls and the rollover protection structure (ROPS). NEVER disable or modify any safety device.
  • It is not advisable to perform any maintenance procedure underneath a raised bucket. If you have no choice, make sure the lift-arm supports are in position.

And we’ll add a fourth skid steer safety tip: it’s not only operators who need to be extra cautious when running a skid steer. Those working on the ground near loaders or any moving equipment need to be fully aware of their surroundings. Even the best operator doesn’t necessarily have 100% visibility, especially when both machines and people are on the move. Safety is everyone’s job.