Landscape Safety: Using the Skid-Steer Loader Safely

  • Fluegel, Lance;
  • Rein, Bradley K.


  • Read the operator's manual carefully to learn the characteristics of the machine.
  • Depending upon the job, you should wear some or all of the following safety equipment: sturdy pants and shirt, hard hat, safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection, safety shoes, gloves, and respirator.
  • The loader should be equipped with seatbelts, rollover protective structure (ROPS), side screens, starter interlock switches, backup alarm system, and warning lights for maximum safety.
  • Fill the engine with fuel when engine is shut off and still cool. Do not smoke. Wipe up any spills immediately.
  • Check the machine daily for broken, loose, or damaged parts.
  • Check to see that counterweights as recommended by the manufacturer are in place. NOTE: This is very important as improperly balanced skid-steer loaders are easily upset.
  • Clean steps, pedals, and floor of any slippery substances.
  • Clear the driving compartment of loose items that might interfere with the controls.
  • Check the work area for hazards such as holes, soft spots, and obstructions. Check overhead for utility lines, doorway clearances, or other obstructions.
  • Mount the machine wearing clean, dry shoes using the grab bars or handrails provided.

  • Adjust the seat, fasten the seat belt, set the brake, and place transmission in park or neutral before cranking the engine.
  • Visually check for the presence of others in the area and warn them away. Be especially alert for children.
  • If the machine is garaged leave the door or some windows open for ventilating the exhaust. CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS!
  • Start the engine and check all controls to see that they are functioning properly.
  • Check horn and backup alarm to see that they are working.
  • Operate with caution on uneven surfaces. Avoid steep slopes completely.
  • Carry the load as low as possible. Avoid sharp turns and slopes with a raised load.
  • Keep the back of the machine pointed uphill. BACK UP AND DRIVE DOWN!
  • Operate with extreme caution near areas with sharp dropoffs.
  • Do not undercut banks or materials that are piled high, to avoid falling rocks or cave-ins.
  • Be alert, when backfilling, for unstable soils that could collapse under the weight of the machine.
  • Never leave the machine without first lowering the bucket, stopping the engine, setting the parking brake, and placing the shift in park or neutral.
  • If stopping for any length of time lock the ignition and remove the key.

Publication #: 8831-M

This document is apart of a series from the Cooperative Extension, the University of Arizona, Tucson, Az 85719. Publication date: May 1989.

Lance Fluegel, Safety Coordinator, and Bradley Rein, Engineering Specialist, the College of Agriculture, the University of Arizona, Tucson AZ 85719.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More