Backhoe loader operator safety tips

  • Editorial Team
  • Backhoe Loaders
  • 9 December 2019

The biggest cause of accidents and injuries on construction sites is the inadvertent operation of machine controls. So, if you’re looking to buy and operate a backhoe loader on your site, be sure to take the following steps to stay safe.

Avoid loose-fitting clothing

Clothing that’s loose-fitting can easily get wrapped around or caught on tracking levers and joysticks, typically when the driver is getting in and out of the backhoe loader’s cab or moving around inside it.

Baggy high-visibility tabards that are worn in warm weather and oversized high-viz jackets that are worn in the winter are the main culprits here.

HSE recommendations advise building companies to supply all their drivers with close-fitting high-viz jackets and shorter tabards.

Don’t get distracted

Many incidents happen when backhoe loader drivers are distracted by talking with labourers working on the ground. That can mean that the driver has to stretch across one side of the cab, accidentally operating the joystick or other control lever with an arm, elbow, or even a protruding beer gut.

Driver error

Many accidents happen when the operator is digging trenches or filling in holes.

These incidents typically occur when the backhoe driver is standing up in his cab so that he can look down into the excavation site he is working on, while simultaneously operating the controls. Unfortunately, there’s not really a practical alternative that backhoe drivers could use for this potentially dangerous operation, and the driver must always make sure that he has a colleague on the ground who can warn him of possible hazards.

Backhoe loader safety features

When considering a backhoe loader for sale, always try to find one that has an enhanced auto-idle function. An enhanced auto-idle feature works by cutting-out the backhoe loader’s engine when it is idling and the machine is not in operational mode. That will remove the danger of accidental operation of any of the loader’s services or controls.

In conclusion

The HSE’s recent report suggests wide-ranging and longer-term solutions to design flaws in backhoes and other pieces of heavy plant, which must be taken on board by manufacturers. It’s hoped and anticipated that the designers and builders of items of heavy plant, including backhoe loaders, will listen to the concerns of drivers and other site workers.

Armed with that knowledge, manufacturers will, in future, create plant that does not present the risk of accidents through inadvertent operation of cab controls. Keep reading our blog today to stay updated on more HSE news.