Safe Compact Track Loader Operation

Because compact track loaders are used in many different applications with numerous attachments, it’s important to use them correctly and appropriately to decrease the chance of jobsite injuries.

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Ask construction equipment owners or operators about their number one concern, and most will mention safety. Because compact track loaders are used in many different applications with numerous attachments, it’s important to use them correctly and appropriately to decrease the chance of jobsite injuries. Fortunately, there are several quick tips that can help an owner or operator avoid potential compact track loader safety hazards. 

Evaluate the jobsite environment and machine requirements. The first step toward safer compact track loader operation is to evaluate the jobsite environment and the type of jobs the machine will be performing. Then, compare them with the machine’s actual capabilities. Many times, since the compact track loader is such a versatile jobsite workhorse, operators may use the machine for unplanned applications that may extend the machine past its capabilities. It’s important to consider the toughest, heaviest and most rugged conditions in which the machine will be working so that operators can use it safely. For example, a larger machine can pick up a load that weighs less than its rated operating capacity, but if operators attempt to use the machine to carry an exceedingly heavy load, then the machine can become unstable and therefore unsafe.  

Take special care in hazardous environments. Compact track loaders can be used in a variety of applications, and as a result, they’re sometimes exposed to hazardous environments. If the machine is working in a caustic environment, owners and operators must follow strict cleaning procedures when work is completed. Similarly, if the machine works in extremely hot or cold conditions, owners and operators may need to adjust fluids appropriately to keep the machine running smoothly and reduce downtime.

Check your machine’s overall visibility. Visibility is another key factor when it comes to safety. When choosing a machine, consider your visibility from the cab to your external environment, as well as to the front of the machine. Jobsites are often quite busy and congested with many people and activities taking place; combine that with a heavy piece of equipment, and the chances of an accident increase exponentially. However, choosing a machine with low boom profile or a single arm boom significantly increases all-around visibility and reduces the chance of jobsite accidents.

Choose the right attachments. Compact track loaders owe much of their versatility to the many attachments with which they can be fitted. These attachments make it possible to use the machine in numerous ways, allowing owners and operators to offer more services and improve overall profitability. However, it’s imperative for owners and operators to ensure they are choosing the right attachment for the application, as well as for the machine itself. For example, some attachments may require “high-flow” or “low-flow” hydraulic systems - and you cannot operate a high-flow attachment if your machine does not have enough hydraulic horsepower. Other attachments may also be too large or small for the size of the machine; their use can reduce productivity and create potential safety hazards. 

With many compact track loaders using front entry, operators need to climb over the attachment to enter the cab. Choose a skid steer with side-door entry for a safer, more comfortable day’s work.

Perform recommended maintenance on schedule. Lastly, as with all equipment, operators must take care to perform all of the recommended daily service checks and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.  Having a well-maintained machine not only extends the machine’s life and improves its productivity, but it also prevents unexpected service failures which could put operators into dangerous situations and increases the machine’s resale value.

Transport your machine appropriately. Before transporting your compact track loader to a jobsite, ensure you have an appropriate trailer with tie downs to properly secure the machine. Doing so will protect both the machine and the people around it.