Evaluating Safety Guidelines for Compact Machines

Machine owners and operators face pressure to complete tasks quickly on a regular basis, and it can create a dangerous situation if deadlines are prioritized over safety. All it takes is one second of distraction to cause equipment damage or operator injury, and both of those situations lead to higher costs. Additionally, violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards can result in fines or even operation shutdown in severe cases.

Equipment damage and accidents mean lost revenue, reduced efficiency and decreased performance. Encouraging a strong safety culture is the best way to educate operators and personnel on the importance of working safely. Regular safety presentations and knowledge of the operation and maintenance manual (OMM) can immensely improve the safety culture for your business. The following list includes some general considerations:

  • Clearly define policies and procedures for safety guidelines
  • Report or replace damaged safety features such as steps and railings
  • Regular machine inspections can ensure safety systems are functioning properly
  • Study the OMM, which should be stored with the machines at all times
  • Provide manuals in the necessary languages and replace copies that are in poor condition
  • Require use of personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, hearing protection, hard hats, high visibility vests, harnesses, steel toe footwear, respirators, gloves, etc.

Customize Safety Procedures
Safety precautions and walk-around procedures may differ by application and machine type. Guidelines and procedures for one application are not always going to be the same for another. For example, forestry applications can be more susceptible to fires while logging operations often take place on steep slopes where it’s possible for machines to roll over. Also, demolition work usually involves breaking concrete, which can generate flying debris. All of these scenarios should be addressed with tailored safety processes to anticipate any unsafe situations.

Some compact machines are fast and highly maneuverable requiring more specific procedures, or even certified operators, to ensure safe operation. Skid steer loaders, compact track loaders and multi terrain loaders move quickly and often operate in confined areas or around people. The type of work done by these machines naturally increases the chances of injury, machine damage and work site accidents. They’re also versatile, so operators will likely switch work tool attachments several times per day, making visibility and tipping limits important areas of caution. Below is a list of safety considerations specific to skid steer loaders, compact track loaders and multi terrain loaders:

  • Inspect tires and wheels or sprocket rings and sleeves when needed
  • Check track, drive lugs and undercarriage wheels for damage
  • Remove dirt buildup or debris from the undercarriage
  • Clean windows regularly and inspect fans and defrosters
  • Replace windshield wipers and windshield cleaner fluid as needed
  • Inspect machine for structural damage or cracks
  • Carry work tool attachments in a low position
  • Remove the load and turn the machine downhill to correct a side slip
  • Avoid operating these machines on transitions
  • Refer to the OMM supplied with the machine