Performing maintenance or repairs on your skid steer may not seem dangerous, but it can be -- especially if you don't use the skid steer lift arm supports.
Here are some other Shop Talk Blog posts you might find of interest:
- Basic Facts About The Bobcat 864 / T200
- When to Change Out Your Hydraulic Fluid
- 3 Keys To Making Your Bobcat T190 Drive Motors Last
Skid Steer Loader Arms Can Be Dangerous
Between 2009 and 2015, Massachusetts alone saw four fatalities directly related to servicing skid steer loaders and multi-terrain loaders. Two of those fatalities could have been prevented if the technicians remembered to use the loader arm supports. And one of those deaths was man with 25 years experience in working with skid steer loaders -- these injuries and deaths aren't the result of inexperience. And it makes sense that Massachusetts isn't the only state to have seen such fatalities.
And there are other cases, as well. In 2015, a foreman was simply working on the hydraulic lines on a skid steer loader, without the arm supports in place. When he disconnected one of the lines, the raised bucket fell and the injuries led to his death.
You can imagine the crushing force if these lift arms were to suddenly fall without hydraulics acting to slow them down.
Another case occurred back in 2012 when a man with years of experience in working on skid steer loaders was trying to repair the lift arm control pedals. No lift arms were in place, but he did have an overhead chain hoist holding up the bucket. But something went wrong, and he was fatally crushed between the cab and the lift arms. And even sadder is the fact that he wasn't found right away.
Skid Steer Loader Arm Supports Can Prevent Fatalities
According to the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) Alert for Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid-Steer Loaders,
"[Skid steer] machines now being manufactured have either pin-type support devices (which can be operated from inside the operator’s cab) or strut-type support devices (which may also be operated from inside the cab or may require the help of a coworker).”
Because of the dangers involved in performing repairs or maintenance with the lift arms up, safety protocols such as this exist to keep you safe. And this applies to not just skid steer loaders but compact track loaders and multi-terrain loaders as well.
The lift arm support on a skid steer loader can be seen here.
If you are working on a SSL, CTL, or MTL with the lift arms raised, use the lift-arm supports. You can either ...
- Use the one supplied by the manufacturer (like the one shown in the image above)
- Or, if you have an older model, use one that is manufacturer recommended
If your skid steer has one that is damaged or doesn't have one at all, contact either your local equipment dealer or the manufacturer. They can help you to obtain a replacement or find out how to safely support the lift arms.
And here's a video from Ziegler Cat that shows the basics on how to use a lift arm support ...
It just takes a few extra minutes to set up the lift arm supports on your machine. Those extra minutes can add years to your life. Please don't work on your skid steer loader without taking the time to make it safe.