Guide to Compact Construction Equipment Safety

Compact Construction Equipment (CCE) refers to small machines designed for various tasks on the job site. This equipment tends to be smaller and lighter than regular construction equipment. Despite the size difference, CCE can still perform a range of functions and capabilities. Compact Construction Equipment is commonly used for construction site preparation, landscaping, farming and other tasks that require maneuverability in small spaces.

CCE offers similar functions as its standard-sized counterparts while requiring less power. This fact makes this equipment ideal for small-scale projects that do not need larger, more powerful machines. Due to the smaller size, CCE is easier to transport, operate and store, and typically comes at a lower price point.

Many machines can be classified as CCE, including Skid Steer Loaders, Compact Track Loaders and Mini Excavators. Construction equipment safety protocols vary for each machine. Knowing the best safety practices for the most popular compact construction machines is essential for any operator.

Skid Steer Loader Safety

A skid steer is a compact machine with lift arms connecting to various attachments. Skid steer loaders are incredibly powerful and versatile pieces of equipment. Using compatible attachments, a skid steer can perform many tasks, such as digging and leveling, and be used in small spaces and indoors with proper ventilation. Despite these advantages, skid steer loaders must be handled properly to keep everyone on your job site safe.

To avoid any accidents, the following safety precautions should be taken:

  • Inspect the job site: Inspect your surroundings and survey the area before using your skid steer. Knowing the environment and the potential hazards around you is a critical part of safe operation. It’s also important to be cognizant of where other crew members are at all times.
  • Stay in the cab: Keep all arms and legs inside the cab while operating it. In the event of an accident or if the skid steer rolls, the cab will keep you as safe as possible.
  • Pay attention to load capacity: It’s important to never exceed the machine’s load capacity. Carrying too much weight can affect the skid steer’s stability as well as your vision. Overloading a skid steer is a common cause of accidents that can easily be avoided.
  • Inspect your skid steer loader: Create a skid steer inspection checklist to follow before and after operation. Following all inspection and maintenance protocols is the best way to ensure your equipment is safe to use.

Compact Track Loader Safety

Unlike a skid steer loader that has wheels, a compact track loader moves on two parallel tracks. These pieces of equipment can be used for similar functions — the main difference is a compact track loader provides additional traction. Since they move on tracks, compact track loaders can operate on slippery and uneven terrain more easily.

When operating a compact track loader, the safety protocols for a skid steer loader also apply. In addition, here are some more tips to follow when using a compact track loader:

  • Wear a seatbelt: Rollover or tip-over accidents are one of the leading causes of severe injury and death in compact track loader accidents. Wearing a seatbelt at all times — regardless of how long you’ll be operating the equipment — is the best way to keep yourself safe. Even if your skid steer or compact track loader has a Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS), seatbelts help keep operators securely positioned in the cab in the event of a rollover.
  • Stay in the driver’s seat: In addition to wearing your seatbelt, never leave the driver’s seat while operating your compact track loader.
  • Be careful moving on slopes: Compact track loaders are able to move on slippery and uneven surfaces, but you must still be careful when driving up or down slopes. Make sure the heaviest end of the equipment is positioned uphill. Only move in a straight line up or down to avoid rolling the machine and maximize your stability while moving. If you’re not carrying a load, the back end of the loader will be the heaviest part.
  • Practice bucket safety: The bucket of a compact track loader must be moved, positioned and operated with care. Avoid overloading the bucket, and never allow crew members to ride in or lean on the bucket. Following these protocols ensures everyone remains safe and keeps the equipment’s arms and bucket free from damage.

Mini Excavator Safety

Mini excavators are most commonly used to dig ditches and trenches, complete material handling tasks and navigate in tight spaces and on soft or loose terrain. This CCE is a perfect substitute for situations where a full-sized excavator won’t be able to fit. Proper mini excavator operation will make work easier and keep you and your crew safe.

Follow these safety procedures when operating a mini excavator:

  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE): Suitable PPE should be worn while operating any CCE to ensure the operator’s safety. Wear a reflective vest to improve your visibility as well as durable work boots for foot protection. A hard hat will keep your head safe from any stray debris, and tinted glasses and safety goggles help protect your eyes. Work gloves improve your grip and keep your hands and fingers safe.
  • Maintain three points of contact: It’s important to maintain three points of contact when getting in and out of your mini excavator. These points can be your hands and feet or both hands and one foot. Following this protocol improves your stability and minimizes the chance of slipping.
  • Practice proper blade positioning: You need to position the blade correctly to keep the equipment balanced and stable. Balance is especially important while digging with a mini excavator. With smaller excavators, digging with the blade in front of the cab can tip you backwards as the bucket digs in the soil. For this reason, it’s best to move the blade to the back of the mini excavator when digging.

Stay Safe With Holt of California

At Holt of California, we proudly offer the best Cat® equipment that will get the job done. Knowing how to operate Compact Construction Equipment safely is vital to ensuring an accident-free job. Having reliable equipment is another big part of achieving the best results.

We carry a wide range of new equipment and pre-owned compact construction machines. You can also find the right attachments for any job. Explore our website or contact us to learn more about our top-quality products.