This safety alert highlights the importance of providing and maintaining safety systems to prevent foreseeable hazardous operations - skid steer loaders.


In 2014, a 23 year old person suffered fatal injuries when he was compressed between the bucket and the front cross member of a skid steer loader. In another incident, an operator’s hand was crushed between the lift arm and the cabin structure.

Maintenance workers have also suffered fatal injuries caused by a descending lift arm.


Operation and maintenance of skid steer loaders present many risks, including:

  • crush hazards - between the bucket and the machine structure
  • shear hazards - between the lift arms and the machine structure if the side guards are removed

Action required for operators

  • ensure operator is familiar with the safety system(s)
  • inspect and test the safety system(s) daily
  • do not enter or exit the loader while the lift arm is raised, unless the support bar is in place
  • the loader must have a system to allow the operator to lower the lift arms before exiting the cabin in the event the loader malfunctions leaving the lift arms in an elevated position
  • the emergency system to lower the lift arms should operate only when deliberate action is taken by the operator.  For example, use two motions, twist and pull.
  • when the seat bar, which sits above the operators lap, is raised the controls must become inactive. This means, with the seat bar raised, no powered movements are possible, intentionally or otherwise
  • systems that prevent powered movements if the operator is not seated or the seat belt not engaged are also encouraged, especially on new machines
  • do not use mobile phones while operating any machine – there is anecdotal evidence that operators of mobile plant involved in two fatal incidents were using phones at the time

Photo that shows the seat bar in its raised position

Seat bar in its raised position

Action required when maintaining

  • regular servicing should start with checking the safety system
  • do not bypass the interlocking safety system unless required to carry out maintenance
  • follow the manufacturer’s guidelines if required to bypass interlocking safety systems.
  • never remove or modify the side guards
  • never restrict the opening of the safety doors or safety exit areas. For example, installation of vandal guards or air conditioners must not hinder exit
  • use lift arm supports when undertaking maintenance work, especially on the hydraulics
  • remove attachments before raising the lift arm for maintenance

Lift arm support bar in storage position

Lift arm support bar in storage position

Lift arm support bar installed to prevent the lift arm from descending. NOTE: no attachment is to be fitted when in this configuration

Support bar installed to prevent the lift arm from descending. NOTE: remove any attachments before raising into this configuration

More information

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