Safely Using Loaders

Operating a loader, or any other type of machine can be a dangerous activity if certain guidelines are not followed. A good understanding of working environments and machine capabilities is critical for safe operation.

Listed below are guidelines to follow before, during and after operating a loader (N.B. not all inclusive; always refer to operation and maintenance manual for complete instructions).

Before operating the loader:

  • Obtain a pre-shift checklist if available and complete it accurately. It is important to always record the results of inspections.
  • Review the operation and maintenance manual before operating; know the safety precautions.
  • Inspect the condition of the tires or track shoes for excessive wear, cracks and bulges.
  • Verify all fluids are at the right levels.
  • Inspect the condition of the bucket, nuts, bolts and other wear items for cracks or damage.
  • Verify that there are no rocks, debris or other material that could fall back into the cab.
  • Always wear the proper personal protective equipment for the job. Some applicable forms of PPE include; leather gloves, protective helmets, eye and ear protection and steel toe boots (make sure work boots have good tread).
  • Use caution accessing and exiting the cab of the machine; maintain three points of contact at all times.
  • Verify all gauges are working properly and the inside of the cab is ready for safe use.

Operating the loader:

  • Always wear a seat belt and honk horn before moving the loader.
  • In cold conditions, start the engine and let it run at idle speed for 15 minutes before operating; exercise the bucket up and down a few times to warm the hydraulic oil.
  • Never exceed speed limits and do not make sharp turns or aggressive moves.
  • Never operate on an incline with the load in the raised position (doing so could results in tipping the load or loader).
  • Do not exceed the rated loads for the equipment; always attempt to center the load to the bucket when loading and unloading.
  • Always be aware of surroundings – Use a spotter and know where pedestrians, objects, overhangs, fall hazards, uneven conditions and other vehicles are at all times.

After operating the loader:

  • Let the loader run at idle speed for 5 minutes before completely shutting down.
  • Lower the bucket to ground to avoid stress on hydraulic systems.
  • Clean the loader off with high pressure water before any mud or debris hardens.
  • Inspect and verify the same items before you operated the loader (see above).
  • Shut off the engine before refueling.