Hazards Associated with Operating Skid-Steer Loaders

A new Safety and Health Information Bulletin, published by the U.S. Department
of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), addresses concerns
of safety features of a skid-steer loader being bypassed, defeated or
improperly maintained resulting in serious injury or death to the operator and
employees working on or around the equipment.

Skid-steer loaders are manufactured with safety features to prevent unexpected
or inadvertent movement of the loader arm and hydraulics when the operator is
not in the cab. However, these safety features can be bypassed, defeated or
improperly maintained which can result in serious injury or death to the
operator and/or other employees working on or around the equipment.

The purpose of this Safety and Health Information Bulletin is to:

  • raise public awareness about recent fatalities that have occurred with
    skid-steer loaders due to bypassed safety devices;

  • alert employers and employees about the need to review and follow
    manufacturer instructions regarding the installation, use, testing, inspection,
    and maintenance of safety devices on skid-steer loaders; and

  • emphasize the importance of conducting training on the proper use of
    skid-steer loaders.

The following practices will minimize hazardous situations associated with
operating and maintaining skid-steer loaders:

  • Always read and understand the operator's manual before using the piece of
    equipment. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations and specifications
    when operating it.

  • Always lower the bucket or attachment so that it is flat on the ground. Do
    not attempt to activate the skid-steer loader's controls from outside the
    operator's compartment.

  • Do not leave the operator's seat while the engine is on. Never attempt to
    activate the controls unless properly seated with the seatbelt fastened and the
    seat bar (if equipped) lowered. Keep all body parts inside the cab while
    operating a skid-steer loader.

  • Never modify, bypass, disable, or override safety systems. Similarly, never
    operate equipment in which safety systems have been modified or are not working
    properly. Equipment with modified or malfunctioning safety systems should be
    taken out of service until repaired or replaced.

  • Never permit riders on the skid-steer loader, in the bucket or attachment, or
    in the operator's compartment unless the compartment is designed to accommodate
    a second rider.

  • Always keep bystanders a safe distance away from the work area.

  • Establish a routine maintenance and inspection program in accordance with the
    manufacturer's recommendations. Inspect the skid-steer loader to ensure that
    all safety systems are functioning properly prior to operating the equipment.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for maintaining the skid-steer loader.
    Never attempt maintenance or other work while lift arms or attachments are
    raised without using an approved lift arm support device. Replace protective
    guards and shields after repairs or service.

  • Train personnel on the proper inspection, use, maintenance, and repair of
    skid-steer loaders according to the manufacturer's instructions. Train
    supervisory personnel to identify hazards, such as safety systems that have
    been bypassed, disabled, or that require maintenance.

More info - Source: U.S. Department of Labor - Occupational Safety & Health Administration