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Skid Steers Turned Deadly?

Stupidity and Inexperience = Skid Steers Danger!



Skid steers are among the most popular compact equipment machines on the market today, but lack of attention, inexperience, and stupidity can quickly turn such a useful machine into something deadly. In this Shop Talk blog post, we are going to discuss the recent spate of fatal accidents involving skid steers, whether or not skid steers are inherently dangerous, and a list of excellent resources for promoting skid steer safety.




Are Skid Steer Loaders Dangerous?

Bobcat-skid-steer-slope-incline.pngYouTube is full of entertaining videos of skid steer operators who practically make their machine dance, but skid steers aren't all fun and games. There has been several news reports from around the world about fatalities involving skid steers, and some journalists have raised questions about their safety.

Is the problem with the machine, or with the operators?


Skid Steer Accidents in the Last Year

Handprint-Caution-Texas-Final-Drive.pngThe last year alone has seen a variety of skid steer related accidents, such as ...

  • An 80-year-old man was killed after apparently being run over in his garage by his skid steer after clearing snow
  • A young boy died after being backed over by a skid steer in a tragic accident
  • A young man died when he was run over by a stolen skid steer and those involved were charged with, among other things, criminal negligence and leaving the scene of an accident
  • A man killed when a 540 lb hot metal casting fell through the windshield after safety bars (that would have prevented the death) had been removed

There have been dramatic accidents reported in prior years, also. Take the case of a contractor who drowned when the river bank beneath his skid steer collapsed, causing it to fall upside down in the river. There was also a fatal incident when a man was struck in the temple by a grapple attachment on a skid steer.  This is just sampling of the various accidents associated with skid steers, and these accidents can happen on any brands, from Bobcat SSLs to John Deere SSLs.


Most Common Types of Accidents

Here's a summary of the most common types of skid steer related accidents:

  • Skid steer tips over forward or backward due to an unbalanced load, or possibly sideways if it is operating on a slope
  • Someone is run over by the skid steer
    • The operator can be thrown out of the cab and into the path of the of the skid steer if proper safety devices are not in use or if the skid steer does not have an fully enclosed cab
    • More often, however, this type of accident involves bystanders or fellow workers
  • Someone is crushed by moving parts including attachments or the wheels
  • A load falls on someone while in the skid steer, either trapping them or crushing them


Can Accidents Be Prevented?

Most -- but not all -- of these accidents can be prevented by proper attention to safety (including the use of safety devices). Some accidents happen and no one could have prepared for such a problem; on the other hand, the operator who was killed by a falling metal casting could have been protected if certain safety bars had not been removed, according to those present.

Consider operators who are run over by their own equipment. They might have been protected if safety equipment were installed and properly used. In fact, no operator should be expected to work on a skid steer that does not have interlocked controls, FOPS (falling object protective structures), seat belts, safety bars, stable grab handles and steps, lift-arm supports, ROPS (roll over protection structures), and back up alarms.


Conclusion: Skid Steer Safety

Is it the fault of the skid steer? More often than not, it is either the fault of an inexperienced operator or whoever is responsible for the installation and maintenance of safety equipment. Skid steers themselves aren't more dangerous than any other type of compact equipment when they are used and maintained responsibly.


Skid Steer Safety Resources


OSHA Skid Steer Loader Safety

Overview of Skid Steer Safety

Caterpillar Agriculture Industry: Skid Steer Safety

Texas A&M Skid Steer Loader Safety

CDC and NOSH Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid-Steer Loaders





Use your Skid Steer how it was intended and this piece of excavation equipment can be invaluable in getting the work done.  Texas Final Drive provides best-in-class new and reman hydraulic drive motors for O.E.M. brands from Bobcat to John Deere, and many more.  Check out our latest reman hydraulic drive motors for John Deere Skid Steer Loader.

John Deere Skid Steer Loader Final Drive Hydraulic Motor CTA

Topics: Heavy Equipment 101, Skid Steers, Excavators, Mini-excavators, Heavy Equipment Safety

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