Skid Steer Information

Skid Steer Information
HOSTA Task Sheet 6.1
Weight and Stability
Skid steer loaders are versatile
machines. They fit into small
spaces, can turn within a tight
radius, and are easy to operate.
Young farm workers can enjoy
much work success with the skid
steer loader.
A skid steer can move heavy loads.
Operators of a skid steer may
attempt to lift or move more
weight than the skid steer is
designed to handle. The skid
steer’s center of gravity is low and
between the wheels. A load carried
too high raises the center of gravity
and increases the risk of a turnover.
See Task Sheet 4.12, Tractor
Stability, and Task Sheet 4.13,
Using the Tractor Safely, as a
review of center of gravity.
This task sheet discusses the safe
use of a skid steer loader. Skid
steer loaders are safe to use if the
operator works within the
machine’s limitations. As in all
machinery use, the operator must
know the machine’s proper use, as
well as its limitations.
Skid Steer Loader
Hydraulic Power
A skid steer loader is a hydraulic
workhorse. A hydrostatic
transmission controls forward and
reverse direction. Hydrostatic
valves control the flow of
hydraulic oil to steer the machine
by “skidding” it sharply around
corners. Hydraulic cylinders raise
and lower lift arms and tilt the load
bucket. Task Sheet 5.5 serves as a
review of hydraulic power.
Hydraulic power is positive power.
The machine moves the instant you
move the hydraulic control levers
or pedals. The skid steer will move
forward, reverse, or sideways. The
load bucket will lift, roll or tilt.
Bumping the control levers can
cause the machine to move
Figure 6.1.a. Skid steers are controlled by hand
levers or joy sticks. Push the levers forward to
travel forward; pull back to go in reverse. Let go
to stop. The levers also steer the machine.
Over 50% of skid
Machine Hazards
Skid steer loaders function to push,
scrape, scoop, lift, and dump
materials. Lift arms raise and lower
a load bucket near the operator’s
cab. The load bucket is mounted in
front of the operator and can be
rolled forward or tilted back within
inches of the operator.
Control levers, pedals, and a
parking brake are arranged
compactly within the operator’s
space. It is easy to bump these
controls. Workers have been
crushed between lift arms and the
skid steer. Load buckets have
dropped onto workers and killed
them. Load buckets have rolled
back and crushed a worker’s legs.
Pinch points, shear points, and
crush points exist within close
reach of the operator’s space. See
Task Sheet 3.1, Mechanical
Hazards, to review pinch point,
shear point, and crush point
© The Pennsylvania State University 2004
loader fatalities are
due to crushing by lift
arms and load buckets.
Learning Goals
To safely use a skid steer loader
Related Task Sheets:
Hazard Warning Signs
Hand Signals
Mechanical Hazards
Noise Hazards and Hearing
Tractor Hazards
Preventative Maintenance and
Pre-Operation Checks
Starting and Stopping Diesel
and Gasoline Engines
Tractor Stability
Using the Tractor Safely
Using Implements With
Hydraulic Components
Cooperation provided by The Ohio State University and National Safety Council.
Page 2
Use both
Right Foot Control Pedal
Left Foot Control Pedal
hands and
both feet to
control the
skid steer’s
Operating the Skid
Steer Loader
Preventative maintenance
Before using the skid steer,
complete a maintenance inspection
of the machine. Check the oil level,
tire pressure, coolant level, and
fuel. See Task Sheet 4.6 to review
similar items to check on a tractor.
Entering and exiting the skid steer
Before entering the machine,
observe the following points.
Lift arms and bucket should be
completely lowered. Do not
reach into the cab from the
ground level to move hydraulic
levers or pedals to position the
lift arms and bucket. Crushing
can result.
The seat and floor should be
clear of obstructions. Objects
can roll beneath foot control
pedals and interfere with the
machine’s operation.
To enter the skid steer, use the grab
Figure 6.1.b. The hands and feet control the skid steer. Foot controls raise the lift arms
(boom) and tilt or roll the bucket. The left heel raises the lift arms. The left toes lowers
the lift arms. The right heel rolls the bucket back to load. The right toes tilt the bucket
to dump the contents of the bucket. Practice these actions before proceeding to
operate the skid steer.
bars (hand holds) and the tread
plates mounted on the load bucket.
A three-point hold provides the
safest footing. The load bucket and
machine surfaces can be slippery
when wet or muddy. Exit from the
machine in the same manner.
When seated, lower the restraint
bar and/or fasten the seat belt
Before using the skid steer,
become familiar with the controls.
A qualified person should
demonstrate how to start and stop
the engine, how to move the
machine forward and reverse, how
to steer the skid steer, and how to
raise, lower, and tilt the bucket
attachment. It is a good idea to
know how to safely change
attachments. If an attachment to
the skid steer uses hydraulic
power, ask for a demonstration of
how to engage the remote
hydraulic unit.
understand the following points:
Movement controls: Grasp the
right and left hand control
levers; push both levers
forward to move forward, or
pull the levers rearward to
move in reverse. Let go of the
levers to stop the movement.
Steering controls: To control
the steering direction, push one
hand lever forward while
pulling the other lever back.
Pushing the left lever forward
while pulling the right lever
back will make the skid steer
travel to the right.
Lift controls: Foot pedals
control the lift arms and load
bucket. The left pedal raises
and lowers the lift arms, while
the right foot pedal tilts the
bucket to dump or rolls the
bucket back. See Figure 7.1.b.
and page 3 for more details.
Skid steer loaders are controlled by
hand levers and foot pedals. The
beginning operator should
© The Pennsylvania State University 2004
Cooperation provided by The Ohio State University and National Safety Council.
Page 3
Using the Lift Arm and
Load Bucket Pedals
Foot pedals on the skid steer are
used to control the high lift (boom)
work of the skid steer. Toe and
heel movements are needed to
activate these controls. See Figure
7.1.b. Note: Some models use the
hand controls to make these
Raising the lift arms (left pedal):
The left pedal raises or lowers the
lift arm (boom). Use the left heel to
push on the back of the pedal to
raise the lift arms and bucket. Use
the left toes to push on the front of
the pedal to lower the bucket.
These movements must be done
smoothly. Hard-soled shoes give
better feel for the pressure needed
on the pedal.
Tilting the bucket (right pedal):
The right pedal controls the load
bucket. Use the right heel to push
on the back of the pedal to roll the
bucket back while loading. Use the
right toes to push on the front of
the pedal to dump the bucket while
Skid Steer Safety
Skid steer loaders can work in
small areas, but they have similar
limitations as does a tractor.
Follow these skid steer safety
• One seat and one seat belt
means one operator. No passengers are permitted on the
• Lower the safety restraint bar
and/or fasten the seat belt every
time you enter the machine.
• Be sure area around skid steer
is clear of children,
bystanders, pets, and farm
Do not work near overhead
utility lines.
Lower the load bucket for
Use slower speeds over rough
Do not overload the bucket.
Skid steers have a Rated
Operating Capacity. Exceeding
that capacity with a lifted load
will result in forward or
sideways tipping of the
machine. See Figure 7.1.c.
When moving up a slope, keep
the heaviest weight up the hill.
With an empty bucket, back up
the hill. With a full bucket,
drive forward up the hill. See
Figure 7.1.d.
Avoid crossing steep slopes.
Avoid ditches and stream
banks to prevent overturns.
Lower the boom and bucket,
stop the engine, and set the
park brake before dismounting
the machine. Do this every
Never stand or lean where lift
arms or load bucket
movements could crush you.
Use the lift arm locks (boom
locks) to prevent lift arms from
dropping downward if repairs
must be made to the machine.
Prevent load rollback by
securing loads in the bucket
and filling the bucket only to
rated levels.
Do not reach outside of the cab
while the skid loader is
running. All adjustments and
connections of attachments
should be made with the engine
Figure 6.1.c. Skid steer loaders can tip forward
if overloaded. This is an important reason to
wear the seat belt, as well as understand the
skid loader’s load limitations.
Some skid
steer models
use hand
controls to
raise and lower
the lift arms
and to tilt the
load bucket.
Safe skid steer loader work
requires attention to the machine,
the surroundings, and the work
being done.
© The Pennsylvania State University 2004
Figure 6.1.d. With no load in the bucket,
the safest practice is to back up a steep
slope. With a loaded bucket, drive up a
steep slope with the bucket lowered.
Cooperation provided by The Ohio State University and National Safety Council.
Page 4
Safety Activities
1. Use the Internet to visit manufacturers’ websites (John Deere, New Holland, Bobcat, etc). Assemble a
picture chart of as many skid steer loader attachments as you can find.
2. Set up a skid steer loader course to practice moving the skid steer around and through obstacles. Be sure that
one part of the obstacle course involves using the load bucket.
3. With adult supervision and a blind fold (skid steer parked and brakes locked), raise and lower the lift
(boom) arms and tilt and roll the bucket as the supervisor commands you. You must be able to use the
proper controls to operate the skid steer without errors.
4. Matching. Match the skid steer control position with the resulting action to be expected.
Skid steer control position
Resulting action to be expected
_____A. Left foot pedal pushed forward with toes
1. Skid steer spins in circles to the left
_____B. Left foot pedal pushed downward with heel
2. Lift arm raises
_____C. Right foot pedal pushed forward with toes
3. Bucket tilts forward to unload
_____D. Right foot pedal pushed downward with heel
4. Bucket rolls back to load
_____E. Right hand control lever pushed fully forward,
left hand control lever pulled fully back
5. Lift arm lowers
_____F. Right hand control lever pulled backward,
left hand control lever pulled back
6. Skid steer moves forward
7. Skid steer moves in reverse
1. Safety Management for Landscapers, GroundsCare Businesses, and Golf Courses, 2001, First
Edition, John Deere Publishing, Moline, Illinois.
2. on search by
topic/Scroll to Skid Steer.
3. search box, type
Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid Steer
Contact Information
National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program
The Pennsylvania State University
Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department
246 Agricultural Engineering Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-865-7685
Fax: 814-863-1031
Developed, written and edited by WC Harshman, AM Yoder, JW Hilton and D J Murphy,
The Pennsylvania State University. Reviewed by TL Bean and D Jepsen, The Ohio State
University and S Steel, National Safety Council.
Version 4/2004
This material is based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 2001-41521-01263. Any opinions, findings,
conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not
necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
© The Pennsylvania State University 2004
Cooperation provided by The Ohio State University and National Safety Council.
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