Lift arm supports are provided by each manufacturer for situations when people choose to work or move around the machine with the lift arms raised. Some models are equipped with pin-type supports or strut-type supports that can be engaged while sitting in the operator’s cab.
Operate with caution
The nature of any construction site brings with it unique skid-steer safety concerns. Utilizing manufacturers’ machine safeguards is one aspect of safe skid steer operation. However, many safety measures fall onto operators and how they use and service the machines.
The most common safety concerns include operating in congested areas and areas with variable stability.
“Know what’s around you when operating a skid steer,” says Zupancic. “Crowded construction sites are full of objects and people. Operating a skid steer while raising and lowering a bucket, moving and turning, an operator needs to understand and be aware of their surroundings.”
Stability on slopes
To operate safely around a jobsite, skid steers need to be stable. As with any self-propelled machine, a skid steer is most stable when its center of gravity is kept within its base of stability. To avoid tipping on steep terrain, while hauling unbalanced loads and making abrupt turns, it’s important to understand the grade, ground and site conditions, as well as the abilities of the machine.
“To reduce potential risks when operating uphill, downhill or across a slope, operators should always keep their bucket as low as possible when traveling on any surface,” says Jamie Wright, product manager, Terex Construction. “If steep angles must be traversed, operators should travel up and down the slope directly; never across it at an angle. Also, speed and weight will have an effect on the machine’s stability when crossing these types of terrain so always travels at the slowest possible speed, and limit the load size when negotiating slopes and hills.”
“Operators should follow the SAE standard for measuring the rated operating capacity of their skid steer,” notes Zupancic. Traditionally, a skid steer’s rated operating capacity is 50 percent of its tipping load. Regarding attachments, operators should closely consider the rated operating capacity of the skid steer plus the attachment.
“There is no mechanism to prohibit a skid steer’s tires from coming off the ground,” Zupancic stresses. “It’s up to the operator to understand the rated operating capacity. Also, as operators move up and down the slopes, they should always keep the heavy end of the loader pointed uphill. With no load in the bucket, the heavy end is the rear. With a loaded bucket, the front is heavy end.”
Many attachments can be used on skid steer loaders to make them very versatile. However, there can be a danger associated with that versatility.
“First, only use attachments that are approved by the manufacturer for use with your skid steer loader, and follow any additional warnings and instructions pertaining to the specific attachment,” says Warkenthien. In many cases, a manufacturer provides an attachment manual separate from the skid steer manual.
Also choose the appropriate attachment for the job. “Attachments are application specific,” notes O’Brien, “and some applications [such as demolition] require specific attachments and skid steer options to safely perform the job.” A scrap grapple used to pick up demolition debris, for example, can allow debris to fall back on the machine. Guarding should be considered to keep material out of the cab. Most manufacturers offer enclosure kits for specific applications.
“Make sure the attachment is properly connected to the coupler of the skid steer loader before operating,” Warkenthien adds. “Check that the skid steer’s coupler pins or wedges are fully engaged into the attachment frame.”
“Many attachments are hydraulically powered,” notes O’Brien. “If they have a hydraulic coupler, the operator has to get out of the cab to install the attachment.” Case provides Connect Under Pressure (CUP) manifolds that release pressure into the standard case drain as auxiliary hydraulic lines are plugged in. This approach eliminates the need for any tools in connecting and disconnecting hydraulic lines.