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.

Disassembly, Assembly and Maintenance

Always fully read and understand the Disassembly and Assembly manual before attempting to perform any maintenance on any machine!

Belly Pan Removal

  • Be sure the surface underneath the belly pan is solid, flat, smooth and unobstructed.
  • Use caution around pinch points and potential pinch points.
  • Be alert for possible movement of guards.
  • Always be sure to inspect all of your tooling for proper condition and operation.
  • Always be sure you are using the proper tooling for the job.
  • Be sure the tooling is suitable for the weight of the job.
  • Never place any part of your body under the bottom guard unless the mounting hardware is installed.
  • Be sure the tooling is in the proper location and giving proper support to the guard before loosening any hardware.
  • The secondary system can be manual or automatic with a verification procedure for the user to check for proper attachment.
  • Be aware that bottom guards may contain significant amount of rock, dirt, liquids and debris causing additional weight.

Lowering the Hinged Bottom Guard

  • A suitable floor jack must be used for the complete removal of the hinged bottom guards.
  • Be sure to inspect the suitable lifting device and all suitable restraining devices prior to installation for proper condition and proper operation.
  • Make sure there are no interferences that may be caused by dirt or debris that could cause unexpected movement of the bottom guard when the restraining device is secured to the machine.
  • Be sure the lifting and restraining devices you are using are centred in the front and back of the bottom guard.
  • Be sure all hinge pins, cotter pins and washers are in place in the bottom guard.
  • If any cracks are noticed on the hinges or the welds do not lower the bottom guard, refer to the manual for a complete bottom guard removal procedure.
  • Once everything is secured, loosen nuts that secure the bottom guard; do not remove them completely.
  • Make sure you maintain at least one half of the thickness of the nut thread engagement on all nuts.
  • Be sure the area is secure and no one is under the bottom guard.
  • Slowly lower the bottom guard until it is resting on the nuts; pry the bottom guard loose from the frame if necessary.
  • Once the bottom guard is resting securely on the nuts, remove any excess slack in the restraining device.
  • Now you can remove the nuts that are furthest away from you.
  • Remember to remove the ones that are close to you last to prevent from reaching across the loosened guard.
  • Once all of the nuts are removed, use the suitable tooling to safely lower the bottom guard to the ground.