Tragic accidents this spring are stark reminders
A series of fatal accidents involving agricultural producers and skid-steer loaders rocked farm communities in the upper Midwest this spring spurring a heart-felt reminder from Dennis Murphy of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Murphy is calling for operators to take precautions. He noted that the accidents all had certain factors in common.
“One operator died after being crushed by the loader bucket, one was a rollover on uneven ground and the others appeared to be rollovers caused by loads carried too high,” he said. “The major contributing factors in the fatalities were similar, and the danger can be mitigated by taking precautions.”
Murphy offers the following tips:
• Avoid raised loads, which elevate the skid steer’s center of gravity in relation to the stability baseline of the machine, thus increasing the danger of a rollover. “Carrying loads ‘low and slow’ keeps the center of gravity low, thus reducing the chance of rollover,” Murphy said.
• Maintain a clear view of the work area, nearby workers or bystanders, and other obstacles.
• Keep children away from the work area.
• Use the seatbelt during skid-steer operation, which will keep the operator inside the “zone of protection” if an accident does occur.
• If the machine’s bucket must be raised for any non-operation activity, use the boom lock to secure the bucket and lift arms and keep them from inadvertently falling.
• Train all family workers and newly hired employees to operate a skid steer properly and safely, and provide an annual training review for experienced employees.