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On The Farm

Skid-steer Safety Tips

The skid-steer is what farmers and ranchers point to when the heavy lifting’s got to get done. From handling landscaping projects to moving silage, the skid-steer is a workhorse that can’t be replaced. With so many attachments and uses, the skid-steer gets important work done all year long. Because your business depends on these vehicles every day for so many important tasks, take a look at these operator’s tips to be sure  everyone on your farm is operating your skid-steer safely.

Start With the Owner’s Manual and Online Training

Even if you’re a well-seasoned operator, a full review of the how your skid-steer is designed to work can pay off. You may be surprised what you learn. Make time to get familiar with the machine. You’re going to be better informed — which can mean less accidents, less down time and a safer farm.

Find the owner’s manual. It can teach you things about the skid-steer you never knew. Try reading it again, this time looking for safety tips and suggestions. And you’re likely to find links to videos on how to run the skid steer safely on the manufacturer’s website.

Get certified. Skid-steer certification trains you so you’re taking on each job safely. Look online for training courses on the specific type of skid steer and attachments your farm uses. Many courses are online and satisfy OSHA’s in-classroom portion of operator safety training. With quizzes along the way, and a written final exam, a practical hands-on operator’s test completes the training.

The Basics of Skid-steer Safety

It’s key that you know the limits of the skid-steer so that you don’t risk breaking the machine or hurting others by misusing it. Here are some basics to keep in mind when running a skid-steer.

  • Always get into and out of the skid-steer using the three points of contact method.
  • Always wear the seat belt.
  • Use the restraint bar every time and verify it’s in proper working order before work begins.
  • Keep the bucket lowered when parking. Use the manual lock out option if this can’t be done.
  • Work within the skid-steer’s operating capacity.
  • Never let anyone ride in the bucket.
  • Verify that the rollover safety protection system is securely bolted down.
  • Keep all body parts in the cab when operating the skid-steer.
  • Never disable safety features.
  • Always take the keys with you when you turn off and leave the skid-steer.

Routine Safety Checks and Maintenance for the Skid-steer

As simple as this sounds, one misaligned bolt or un-hooked point can result in problems and sometimes injuries. Go through these simple safety checks to review each time you get into the cab of a skid-steer.

  • Before taking on a load, test the controls and levers to be sure they’re operating safely.
  • Ensure that the starting safety system is working correctly.
  • Look at the tires and verify that they have usable tread.
  • Keep the machine in good working order.
  • Inspect the skid-steer regularly.
  • Perform all maintenance according to the owner’s manual.

Safely Operating Skid-steer Buckets and Attachments

Every day, farms call on their skid-steer to take on different jobs which often means swapping out the bucket for other attachments. From clearing snow to grading roads, there’s a lot that can get done with the right attachment.

  • Inspect the attachment’s locking/hooking points and once coupled, test it before taking on a load.
  • Watch shifting loads and adjust forks or the load to balance the load.
  • Keep the arms level when lifting.
  • When moving up or down a slope, keep the skid-steer and the load level to avoid rollovers.
  • Be aware that the bumping of certain knobs in the cab can instantly lower the arms.
  • Know where the pinch points are on the skid-steer, and tell others working with you to avoid these areas.
  • Use hand signals to talk with others. The engine and work area can get loud, and often a few simple signs can get the job done safely.

Staying Alert Around the Skid-steer and Blocked Fields of View

Some of the mishaps with skid-steers happen when you don’t look around and verify it’s safe to move the machine. When working with others, visual awareness is key. And children are of concern here, because they’re smaller and less visible. Check out these safety tips to better protect children while you work on the farm.

  • Always be aware of your blind spots.
  • Don’t let children near the skid-steer even when it’s off.
  • Mount rear-view mirrors and back-up cameras/monitors.
  • Practice running the skid-steer in an open field with the arms at various heights to understand how they can impair your field of view.
  • When driving on public roads, be sure to have a slow moving vehicle emblem, working flashing lights operating, and an escort vehicle.

As you’re working on training your employees, contact your American Family Insurance agent and learn about the many ways your farm or ranch can benefit from custom-designed coverage that perfectly matches the needs of your farm. You’re going to find that with it, the work they’re doing across the year — on and off the skid-steer — can be better insured. And you’ll feel great knowing your farm is safer and that your operation is protected.

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Related Topics: Farm Insurance , Farm Safety , Employee Safety , Farm and Ranch