Skid Steer Safety Talk
When working on a construction job site you may come in contact with some equipment you will need to use including a skid steer. While these pieces of equipment may seem small in size the hazards they can create are rather large. It is important to recognize the dangers that come with operating a skid steer and follow the best safety precautions to keep yourself and your coworkers safe.
What is a Skid Steer?
A skid steer loader, also known as a skid steer is a small construction vehicle that can be used for a variety of tasks. They typically come with a bucket as an attachment but you can change them out depending on the task.
Why is it called a Skid Steer?
The skid steer gets its name from the way it turns. The angle of the wheels or tracks are fixed, so they will only point straight ahead. The wheels on each side are locked in synchronization with each other and have their own engines. This means you have to steer each side independently from the opposite side.
Since the wheels are fixed you can not steer by angling the wheels in a different direction. Instead, you steer by speeding up either the left or right side of the vehicle causing the wheels to drag, or skid across the ground. This type of steering is also called differential steering. This makes it easy to fit in tight spaces and make zero-degree turns when needed. In order to operate a skid steer you should be properly trained, to reduce the dangers to you and your coworkers.
Hazards Associated With Skid Steers
There are several hazards for the workers that are operating a skid steer as well as the workers who are around one. Some of the common and major hazards you should make yourself aware of include:
Struck-by hazards are a serious threat for those working around skid steers. These machines are often used in high traffic areas and reversing is a common task for the operator. These factors paired with blind spots create a huge risk for struck-by incidents to occur.
Crushed-by hazards are also a major concern while you are operating a skid steer. There are workers on the ground who can easily be pinned by the skid steer and another object if they find themselves in the way, Operators of skid steers can also hurt themselves by being crushed by their own machine. Some common ways workers have been pinned include pinning between the bucket and frame or between a lift arm and frame.
Rollover or tip-overs are another cause for fatalities of operators on a skid steer.
Pinch Point Hazards
Skid steers are full of pinch point hazards and can easily result in injuries to the body of the operator or workers around.
Weather hazards including ice, mud, and slick areas can increase the risk of an incident with a skid steer.
Skid Steer Safety Best Practices
Skid steers are often used on the construction job site because they are so versatile. With the right safety precautions, injuries can be prevented. The following practices will help minimize hazards and injuries associated with operating a skid steer:
Always understand the operator's manual before using the skid steer and follow the manufacturer's recommendations and specifications when operating it.
Lower the bucket or the attachment so that it is flat on the ground. Do not try to use the skid steer's control panel unless you are in the skid steer.
Do not leave the machine running if you are not in the operator's seat. You should also have your seat belt fastened and the seat bar lowered before you attempt to operate.
While in the skid steer keep all your body parts inside the cab.
Never modify, bypass, disable, or override a safety system. If you see that the safety system has been tampered with, do not use the machine. Let your foreman know.
Equipment that has been modified or has a malfunctioning safety system should be taken out of service by your foreman until it is repaired or replaced.
Never let anyone including coworkers ride on the skid steer loader, in the bucket or the attachment, or in the operators' compartment unless it is designed for a second rider.
Make sure bystanders are out of the way including the area you are driving and working in. Check your blind spots.
Make sure the skid steer has routine maintenance and inspections done according to the manufacturer's recommendations. You may have to talk to your foreman about this.
Before operating the skid steer check to make sure safety systems are properly functioning.
Do not work under the raised arms or bucket of a skid steer even if it is off. Always make sure the bucket is on the ground before exiting.
Wear proper personal protective equipment while operating a skid steer including safety glasses, hard hat, high visibility vest, gloves, and safety boots.
Skid Steer Safety Training
OSHA's Code of Federal Regulations Subpart C "General Safety and Health" provisions require that skid steer operators be trained under CFR 1926.21(b)(2) and CFR 1926.20(b)(4) requirements. Employers are required to train operators so they can recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, Training must be done so that the operator is fully capable of safely handling the equipment at their worksite. Only workers that are qualified through training can operate a skid steer on a job site. When you are being trained to operate a skid steer it should include classroom time with a written exam as well as on the job training. If this is something you are interested in being trained properly for, talk to your foreman.
A skid steer is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment. It can be used for agricultural, construction, and landscaping operations. However, skid steers are complex and they are dangerous if you do not know how to operate them. Should you get injured on a skid steer or see a coworker who is injured immediately seek medical attention and let your supervisor know.
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