Safety watch: Stay in the cab

Main PhotosafetyKnow how to spot skid steer safety hazards

The accident: A 27-year-old landscaper and his crew are clearing trees from the backyard of a newly constructed house with a skid steer. He wraps a 16-foot 3/88-inch binder chain around the base of one of the trees and wraps the other end of the chain around a 73-inch bucket to remove the tree roots from the ground.

The landscaper puts the skid steer in reverse, pulls the tree with the bucket in the air, raises the safety bar and exits the cab. He stands under the raised bucket and tries to unwrap the chain from the tree. Unable to remove it because of the tension on the chain, he reaches into the cab, lowers the safety bar and operates the controls to lower the bucket.

As the bucket lowers, he is crushed between the skid steer arms and frame. He is declared dead at the scene. A toxicology report shows he had alcohol and pain medication in his system at the time of the accident.

The bottom line: Getting pinned between the bucket and frame or lift arms and frame is the No. 1 cause of work-related fatalities with skid steers. And the main reason operators get crushed is because they are working or standing under a raised loader bucket.

To prevent injuries with skid steers, follow these safety practices:

• If working underneath raised lift arms, use an approved lift arm support.

• Avoid alcohol or inhibiting medications when in safety-sensitive jobs.

• Conduct ongoing hazard recognition and evaluation. Consider developing a joint health and safety committee.

• Have the jobsite foreman give crews daily, 5-minute safety talks pertaining to the specific project.

• Enforce a thorough vehicle maintenance and inspection program.

• Do not attempt to operate the equipment from outside of the cab.

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