Skid Steer Loader Safety

Spring is here…swimming pool installers and landscaping companies are getting busy as home owners want to beautify their property. One piece of equipment regularly used for these projects is a skid steer loader…a “jack-of-all-trades”. With the many attachment options, these units can be found doing many tasks. From earthmoving to landscaping, skid steers help operators get the job done!

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. Operators should read the owner’s manual and demonstrate that they understand the safe work practices when operating the skid steer loader. Operators should be provided with at least an annual refresher safety training, and always document training just in case OSHA pays you a visit.

Common safety features of a skid steer loader include the seatbelt to prevent the operator from being thrown about inside or falling out of the skid steer loader.  Other features include Falling Object Protective Structure (FOPS), Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS), and a Control Interlock System. The FOPS and ROPS protect the operator from falling objects and injury due to accidental rollovers. Control Interlock Systems and/or operator seats used on some machines typically activate a safety interlock system that is intended to prevent inadvertent movement of the machine’s controls when the operator is not seated.

When safe work practices are not followed, mishaps are bound to occur. The most common types of incidents from skid steer usage include:

  • Running over bystanders, including children or the operator

  • Entrapment or crushing, which can happen when the operator or helper is caught between an attachment and the frame of the skid steer

  • Entrapment of the operator when a load rolls or drops onto him or her while he or she is in the operator station

  • Rollover when the skid steer is operated on a steep slope or uneven terrain

  • Tipping due to a heavy load or attachment in the front

  • Falls while improperly mounting or dismounting the skid steer

  • Injection injuries caused when pressurized hydraulic fluid is injected into a person’s body

  • Crushing/pinching injuries to hands and fingers due to improper hooking/unhooking of an attachment

While OSHA does not have a standard requiring employers to use control interlock systems or seatbelts on skid steer loaders, it is important for employers to understand that under the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act (section 5(a)(1)), employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards that would likely cause death or serious physical harm.

For example, performing maintenance or repair operations while a skid steer loader is energized creates the recognized hazard of crushed-by and/or caught in-between. OSHA may cite an employer for a violation under the General Duty Clause if the employer does not take feasible, effective measures to abate such hazard.

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

  • Read and understand the operator’s manual before using the piece of equipment.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance recommendations and specifications.

  • Lower the bucket or attachment so that it is flat on the ground.

  • 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, and 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.

  • Do not 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.

  • Keep bystanders at a safe distance 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.

  • Do not 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.

  • Operators must be trained on the proper inspection, use, maintenance, and repair of skid steer loaders according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Supervisory personnel must be trained to identify hazards, such as safety systems that have been bypassed, disabled, or that require maintenance.

Safety Links offers an interactive course to provide participants with a general understanding of the safe and efficient operation of a skid steer. After the course, participants will be able to identify specific health and safety hazards associated with operating a skid steer.

For more information on this and many other courses, contact Fran Soto at 800-768-7036 or

Article written with the assistance of:;;

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Student Paper: Compare and Contrast Traditional Safety Techniques

As a professor at Seminole State College I like to feature students work periodically. Amerys, one of my students in the Bachelors of Construction Management program, wrote a paper worthy of sharing.

The assignment was to compare and contrast the “traditional safety techniques” still used in many organizations (i.e. enforcement, rules, manuals, etc…) with the “modern safety management methods” used by world class safety performers (i.e. Metrics, Accountability, Score Cards, etc…). Then the students were to explain how measuring safety performance has changed since we started using “modern safety management methods”.

Here is her response:





A group of old safety techniques that are not systematically applied or implemented at all and do not reach all the components of a safety system.

Address hazards in the worksite, reach the management system and assess human behavior, through a new and effective approach.

Don’t have scientific, behavioral or practical foundations, and are solely based on habits or traditions. They don’t evolve, and the system is usually accepted as it is.

Are based on education, assessment, observation, prevention and control, and outline responsibilities and support positive reinforcement.

Employ tricks and give rewards for following important regulations.

Plan, organize, and set goals, control and guide safety rules as a business function.

Usually get unwanted results like unreported injuries. Safety is considered separate from other worksite functions and in some cases is even viewed as a source of punishment or as the sole responsibility of a determined person.

Create a positive environment because they involve everybody in the worksite in the safety process and minimize dangerous work environment and risks.

Create distrust between workers and the management because the former are blame for breaking rules.

Create trust. The employees are expected to know and take the necessary precautionary measures to create and keep a safe workplace and they contribute to solving problems.



None of the aforesaid methods can eliminate the risk of injuries completely.

Both are supposed to achieve safety in the workplace and a positive safety culture.

If either one of these methods is not working, it means that there are problems in the management system and/or in the participation of the work force.

Both methods should imply actively identifying and controlling workplace hazards (including those generated by behavior), staff involvement and feedback, and regular supervisions, but the approaches are very different, so the results from them are vary from each other.

Measuring safety performance is not just complying with specifications anymore. Keeping records of injuries (measuring of failures) and historical records are not reliable indicators any longer because whether a particular event results in an injury is often a matter of chance, so it will not necessarily reflect whether or not a hazard is under control. Good safety performance statistics could be the result of few employees being exposed to the hazard or events not reported.

It is more productive to recognize were action is required and with what level of immediacy, provide solutions, and get feedback. At the time of measuring, the important things are those that impact health and safety (no just collecting excessive data), and the design of the process to measure the performance must include a representation of employees to stimulate ideas and team work.

Every worksite have unique characteristics, even in the same industry, thus the performance strategy must applied accordingly. In a hypothetical construction worksite, leading activity indicators to measure safety would be:

  • To check if the construction planning and cost control is effective, because usually when one construction activity gets behind schedule or exceeds the budget is when safety starts to get compromised in order to get on track again. Planning and knowing which activities will be going on simultaneously or in which order activities will occur would prevent accidents and rule breaking.

  • Management labor and direction, including leadership, clear communication, integrity and most importantly motivational skills.

  • Effectivity and frequency of supervisions and applications of long term solutions.

  • Objectivity in correcting and eliminating hazards and dangerous conditions.

  • Fulfillment of First Aid Requirements and emergency procedures trainings.

  • Observation of labor force and its risky behavior at all times and circumstances.

  • Safety education at all levels.

Results measures, although not preemptive, can give some general ideas about a company’s risks and its safety performance projection into the future. Some of them are:

  • Evaluations of results in periodic form and over time.

  • Ratio of accidents and incidents reported, in function of hours worked, and how they were followed up.

  • Reduction or increment in medical treatments, lost-time injury or sick days.

Student Bio: Amerys has a Bachelor Degree in Architecture from ISPJAE, University of Havana Cuba, and an A.S. Degree in Architectural Design and Construction Technology and A.A. Degree, both from Seminole State College. She has worked in architectural, construction and surveying and mapping companies and as a Lab assistant teacher for Autodesk AutoCAD and Autodesk Land Development Desktop at Seminole State College where she is attending to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree.

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Effective Communication & Effective Listening

Effective communication and effective listening go hand-in-hand, but we find ourselves, and others, listening less…and less. This is due to not only lack of time, but quite often we’re occupied with our high-tech gadgets and social networking.

At work, effective communication and listening skills help ensure understanding, build relationships, solve problems, resolve conflicts, and improve productivity. Being able to communicate effectively helps form highly efficient teams in the workplace…it helps employees and managers work together harmoniously. And what’s the result of a team that works well together? A highly productive, reliable and responsible team.

Effective Communicators:

– Provide detailed information

– Are realistic in expectations

– Are proactive, assertive and action-oriented

– Communicate choices instead of demands

– Are honest

– Listen

– Ask questions when unclear

Poor Communicators:

– Provide inaccurate or incomplete information

– Criticize others publicly

– Blame others when problems arise

– Use aggressive or threatening language

– Make sarcastic remarks

– Don’t listen

– Act bossy and negative

Effective Listeners:

– Face the speaker

– Be attentive, but relaxed

– Keep an open mind

– Try to picture what the speaker is saying

– Do not interrupt

– Ask questions when unclear

Poor Listeners:

– Check their phone/watch

– Are distracted

– Listen with preconceived judgments

– Miss out on body language

– Frequently interrupt to impose their opinions

– Do not ask for clarification


Employees are more receptive to feedback on poor performance and at-risk behavior when it’s done in a friendly, positive and respectful manner. In this manner, feedback will be accepted without resentment or retaliation. Personal praise and recognition for safe behavior and safety accomplishments should be provided.

To improve your communication/listening skills, be assertive, confident, action-oriented, express your opinions directly and honestly. Don’t forget to be respectful of others’ opinions, to listen carefully and thank them for their input.

Effective safety communication leads to improved safety performance and better morale.


Geller, E. S. People-Based Safety: The Source. Virginia Beach, VA: Coastal Training Technologies Corporation

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The 5 S’s: Sort, Shine, Set in Order, Standardize, and Sustain

The holidays have come and gone. Everyone is back to work. And while many have made “New Year’s Resolutions” to eat better, exercise more or spend more time with family, few have made resolutions to make their lives more productive on the job.

Did you know that the more organized you are at work, the more productive you are, thus happier you and your boss are?

Think about it…Workplace Organization.

How many times have been looking for an item and can’t remember where you put it? You look in your desk drawers, the filing cabinet, and your briefcase, but you still can’t find it! Then begins the dreaded task of asking your coworkers and even your boss, if they have seen what you’re looking for. Hopefully, either you remember where it is or someone finds it. Will this incident be followed by suggestions from your coworkers and/or boss on being more organized?

Well, we would like to put in our two cents as well. It so happens there is a program that focuses on organizing, cleaning, and creating a visually pleasing workplace. It’s called the 5S…developed by the Japanese and utilized by manufacturers worldwide.

The 5S’s are:

SORT – Start by deciding what things are necessary to have in the work area. By necessary, we mean items used at least once per month. Sort through everything in your area and decide what items are used frequently. Not only will you evaluate the equipment to do your job, but you will discover work surfaces that were unusable due to the “stuff” accumulated.

SHINE – In addition to daily cleanup, you must do in-depth cleaning. Create a checklist of daily or weekly cleaning activities to keep your area dust and clutter free.

SET IN ORDER– A place for everything and everything in its place. The secret to success is that the team agrees on the best locations for items in the workspace and how many of those items are required.

STANDARDIZE – Make the organization of the work space visual. Designate an area to keep pens, pencils, sticky notes, staples, etc. Designate an area for copy paper boxes or hand trucks and if necessary, use yellow tape to define an outline on the floor. If you work with tools, how about having a tool board with an outline of each tool so they are easy to find and know when they’re missing. Remember – there’s a place for everything & everything should be in its place.

SUSTAIN – Both management and employees must commit to the 5S system and continue to work through Sorting, Shining, Setting in Order and Standardizing. Also, remember that this is an ongoing improvement process. To sustain the 5S system, there should be periodic reviews of each work area.

Although the 5S system sounds like an easy way to get organized, it is! With continued commitment and dedication from everyone, the results will be worth it. Sooner than later you will start to notice improvements in efficiency and quality, reduction in accidents and best of all, everyone will be spending time doing value added work.

Safety Links offers a 4-hour course designed for all levels of employees working in the manufacturing and processing industries. The course can be customized to your site specific needs. Give us a call at 800-768-7036 with questions or for additional information.

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It’s like a fully loaded Boing 737-700 crashes everyday in this country.

I read an interesting article yesterday about OSHA, safety and politics.  Although I don’t agree with everything in the article I do feel it makes some interesting points.  

What do you think about the article?

Please comment about it on our blog.

Now remember this conversation could get political so be nice!


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Tis the season for fire works. Learn to not blow off your hand!

As New Years eve approaches I am sure many of you are flocking to the local fireworks stand determined to wow your family and friends with your backyard fireworks display. We created this 5 minute presentation for the 4th of July but it makes sence to repost it on our new blog as a New Years eve reminder.

Take a quick look to learn about the dangers and precautions you can take when using fire works.

Click to Play Fire Works Presentation

Also please subscribe to our newsletter and forward this to all of your colleagues and coworkers.  Have a safe and prosperous New Year!

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