A skid steer loader is a type of compact tractor that has a wide, pronged “bucket” on the front used to move loose materials, such as piles of dirt, sand or gravel, from ground level and deposit them elsewhere.
According to the National Safety Council, the risks of operating skid steer loaders are about as high as those that tractor drivers face. However, skid steer loaders have features that can expose to additional risks. These features include wheels that lock on each side so as to enable the loader to turn quickly and in small spaces. Because skid steer loaders are heavy, however, locking their wheels and maneuvering in small areas can easily tip them over. And because they are powered by diesel engines, they are also noisy and emit exhaust fumes, endangering ’ hearing and respiratory health.
Defective Skid Steer Loader Designs
Skid steer loader design requires operators to enter and exit through the front of the machine and over the bucket. Often, the loader’s control levers are positioned between the lift arms and in front of the lift arm pivot points. If, while mounting the machine, ’ hands or feet touch these controls, the lift arms, bucket or other moving parts can pin or crush the operator.
That means: If you have a skid steer loader accident, it’s likely you are not at fault. Injuries sustained as a result of working with skid steer loaders are rarely caused by farm who use them.
Even if you think you might be partially at fault, you may still be eligible for compensation. Again, that’s because you don’t have to misuse a skid steer loader for it to malfunction. Skid steer loader accidents occur because manufacturers’ designs are not safe, and manufacturers neglect to warn you of all the ways you can be injured while using these heavy machines.
Skid Steer Loader Hazards
Hazards associated with skid-steer loaders are similar to those faced by tractor operators. Workers using the machines are often crushed when:
- the loader rolls over.
- the loader runs over them or someone else.
- a load falls on them.
- performing maintenance around the loader bucket.
- the lift arms, loader bucket or another moving part pins and crushes them.
Skid Steer Loader Accidents
As the following skid steer loader accident reports, compiled by the National Agricultural Safety Database, show, skid steer loaders are frequently responsible for injuring, maiming and killing farm.
- After starting a skid steer loader, the operator raised the bucket and then, because operators must enter and exit through the front of the machine, wiggled under or climbed over the safety bar and got out of the cab. Once outside, he leaned into the cab beneath the bucket in front of the loader. Unexpectedly, the bucket lowered, pinned the operator’s chest against the frame of the loader and crushed him to death.
- A tree had been cut down and the operator was trying to pull it uphill with a skid steer loader. The tree shifted and caused the loader to tip and roll down the hill. The operator was thrown from the cab and crushed to death as the loader rolled over him.
- The operator of a skid steer loader was driving with a load of soil in the bucket. The loader hit a rock and tipped forward, throwing the operator to the ground. The loader ran over the operator and pinned him beneath the front wheels. The operator died at the scene. An investigation showed the safety belt was missing its buckle.
Protect Yourself from Skid Steer Loader Accidents!
Using and maintaining a variety of safety devices decreases the likelihood of skid steer loader injuries and fatalities. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and industry standards encourage performing a number of standard safety checks and installing the following safety features:
- Lift-Arm Supports
- Interlocked Controls
- Seat Belts
- Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS) and Side Screens
- Falling Object Protective Structures (FOPS)
Compensation is Available
No matter how many safety precautions you take, you need to remember that skid steer loaders are not designed safely, and when you’re injured by one, it is the equipment, not you, that is considered “defective”−a term that applies to a product’s poor design, improper manufacturing, lack of safety warning, or all three.
That means: You are not at fault, and you deserve compensation!
If you are an injured farm worker, if one of your family members has been injured or died driving a skid steer loader, or if you have lost wages due to skid steer injury, you may be entitled to compensation−including payments over and above Worker’s Compensation.
Manufacturers who design and distribute unsafe machinery should pay you for the losses you suffer due to using their products. You deserve compensation.
For a free and totally confidential consultation, contact the Farm Injury Resource Center.