CPCS A23 Skid Steer Loader Course

1. Introduction

As the operatives being trained sometimes operate the machinery in close proximity to the public and/or in an environment occupied by other workers, it is essential that the best training takes place to provide the safest possible working conditions. This is often the case when Skid Steer Loader operators work in public areas or when landscapers work on previously developed land. It is also well known that people generally have a relaxed attitude towards Skid Steer Loaders as they are easy to drive. Therefore, claims that operators can “learn on the job” are not uncommon. While the machines are relatively small and lightweight, accidents involving these types of machines can be severe. APS Construction has found that many would-be proficient skid steer loader operators often lack the understanding of how dangerous the machine can be and the safest ways to operate them. It is therefore crucial that the knowledge of safe operating methods is correctly taught and assessed. This is often done through toolbox talks where the experienced trainer must first acquire the correct knowledge himself. At APS Construction, we believe that often the least monitored toolbox talks of today are less formalized and less beneficial. We believe the knowledge should be given right from the source, where the best knowledge should come from the most knowledgeable.

In order to attain the white CPCS Competent Operator card, the operatives must achieve a level of health and safety awareness through a touch screen theory test, a level of operating ability that meets a national standard, and the required underpinning knowledge. It is this underpinning knowledge that we focus on during the CPCS A23 Skid Steer Loader training. By using the most skilled professional testers within the industry and fully accredited NPORS and CPCS machinery, APS Construction can offer you the best training the industry can provide.

1.1. Course Overview

The CPCS A23 skid steer loader course has a duration of between 1 and 4 days, depending on the ratio of candidates to machines and experience of the candidates. Novice candidates require 2 days, experienced but non-tested operators usually require 1 day. This is a very basic course for people with limited or no knowledge or experience of skid steer loader operations. Experienced operators may require training in order to qualify to take the CPCS technical tests. This can be discussed pre-course with the trainer as to whether additional days will be required. This training can be incorporated into the test day, for an additional charge. This course is designed to provide candidates with thorough practical and theory training in operating a skid steer loader, enabling the candidate to: be able to operate the machine safely and correctly in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and accepted good practice and to comply with legislative requirements for operating plant in the workplace. If the candidate is looking for a red or blue Trained Operator Card he will need to take the CSCS Health and Safety Touch Screen Test within the 2 years prior to the CPCS Trained Operator Test. Call us for more information on 01189 700 200 or look at the CPCS information on the CITB website.

1.2. Importance of Skid Steer Loader Training

The pace of technological change in the construction industry has been matched by the rising demand for training and qualifications from employers and customers. This has been particularly evident in the case of mobile plant, where health and safety considerations have driven the need for evidence of competence by operatives. The mobile plant National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS) and Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) managed by the Plant Operations Conference have been designed to provide this evidence. These are based on practical and theory testing by independent accredited assessors. It is a mandatory requirement by the Strategic Forum for Construction for cardholders working on infrastructure projects. The type of card required will depend on the nature of the operative’s core activity, for operating a skid steer loader this will come under the category of a Red Trained Operator or a Blue Experienced Operator CPCS card. Training requirements have been well defined for many years with the availability of a handbook, and this has recently been upgraded to provide individual duty specifications. The CPCS training course is one day duration for experienced operators, novices will require three to five days depending on previous experience. This is followed by a theory and practical technical test of one day duration. Successful candidates will be issued a red CPCS Trained Operator card valid for two years during which time a logbook and further familiarisation training is required to advance to the next category of competency.

1.3. Course Objectives

Enable individuals to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to operate a skid steer loader, through a clear understanding of the legal and safety responsibilities and the adoption of a professional approach to the work. Provide an understanding of the principal construction, capabilities, and limitations of the machine and the logic of the work to be carried out, through an explanation of the manufacturer’s written instructions and the information given by the calculator and/or sign signals. Ensure that individuals can work through and around a machine safely, using the safe stop, parking, and isolation checks; safely carrying out the pre-shift and running checks; understanding warning signs and control markings. This will involve recognition of common hazards and an explanation of how they can be avoided. Give guidance on the loading and unloading practices of particular attachments and the transportation of the machine over public highways, thus helping individuals understand the legal requirements of certain tasks. Provide confidence when working in confined areas and carrying out site preparation or roading work, through an explanation of site hazards and how to eliminate them, a study of soil types and conditions, and a consideration of health and safety issues.

2. Skid Steer Loader Basics

Skid steer loaders have been in the market for over forty years. They were first designed with a four-wheel drive with the engine mounted in the rear of the machine. The drive system consists of pumps and motors that drive the wheels and are controlled by a common joystick. The joystick controls the speed and direction of each individual wheel, allowing the skid steer to turn in its own footprint. Today, there are skid steers that have the traditional four wheels like a car, with a similar control method. Other types include tracks instead of wheels and have a more complex undercarriage system. These newer types of skid steers are generally used to minimize ground disturbance or for better grip on inclined surfaces.

The skid steer loader is a great fit for any construction, agricultural, or industrial application. It is commonly used for material handling or to complete a variety of different tasks at one time. The compact size, maneuverability, and quick attachment changes make the skid steer loader a very versatile machine. This module will explain the various types of skid steer loaders, the operating principles, and safety considerations.

2.1. Definition and Components

A skid steer loader is a self-propelled machine with lift arms used to attach a wide variety of labor-saving tools or attachments. Skid steer loaders are usually four-wheel vehicles with the wheels mechanically locked in synchronization on each side, and where the left-side drive wheels can be driven independently of the right-side drive wheels. Compared to track loaders, the skid steer loader is more agile and lighter, and today it is still by far the dominant loader in the market. Skid steer loaders are capable of excavating, loading and material transport. These machines are used to “open” job sites and work areas, and later for material handling at those sites. The attachments can be emptied into various devices (hopper, dumpster, various sizes of trucks, etc.) or dumped or placed directly in the ground, bypassing some container. The wide variety of skid steer loader tasks and applications requires a good understanding of the machine and the tasks to enable safe operation. Learn more about operating principles and safety considerations later in this A23 course. Skid steer loaders are counter-rotating machines, where the wheels on one side of the machine drive forward while the wheels on the other side drive in reverse. This “skid” steering method of turning is where the machines get their name from. Skid steer loaders are capable of zero-radius turning, which makes them extremely maneuverable and valuable for applications that require a compact, agile loader. With the lift arms and attachments, skid steer loaders are versatile machines. The operator can drive to a site, change attachments and perform a new, and very different, task in a short amount of time. Skid steer loaders have controls to allow the operator to move the left and right drive wheels independently, which can aid steering around obstacles and tight turns. The operator can use the controls to slow down or speed up the drive wheels on one side to skid-steer the machine in continuous turns or even counter-rotate the wheels on one side to pirouette the machine about its vertical axis. Skid steer loaders are often equipped with an automatic attachment changing mechanism which enables the operator to quickly change attachments without leaving the cab. The “universal attachment bracket” on a skid steer loader is compliant with the ISO standard. This allows the operator to change attachments approved by the ISO without the need for special tools and the “universal” nature of the brackets means that many third-party attachments are designed to work with the skid steer loader.

2.2. Types of Skid Steer Loaders

Skid steer loaders come in various configurations to suit different requirements. The most commonly used type is the conventional wheeled machine which has wheels fixed on each side of the machine. The machines also vary in size, the smallest weighing in at only 500kg and the largest exceeding 1000kg. These machines are ideal for working on hard and stable surfaces where there is sufficient space for the machine to manoeuvre and there is minimal risk of it becoming stuck. For sites where ground conditions are likely to be soft or there is a risk of getting stuck, tracked skid steer loaders provide a solution. The tracked machines offer lower ground pressure and improved flotation over wheeled machines enabling better performance on soft ground. This results in minimizing damage to the ground and less downtime from becoming stuck. Another version of skid steer loaders is the mini skid steer. These machines are commonly used in the landscaping industry for small scale and light duty work. Mini skid steers are generally used with a wide range of attachments to perform tasks such as lifting and carrying, digging and trenching, pushing and leveling, and also clean-up. Mini skid steer loaders are available in both track and wheel configurations.

2.3. Operating Principles

Due to the fact that the skid steer has the ability to turn 360 degrees in its own length, it possesses unequal power and extreme amounts of stress are put on the wheels and the drive train. In order to compensate for this, the vehicle has inefficient steering at higher speeds and power is transferred to the wheels on one side of the vehicle only, in order to aid with turning. The vehicle also has a system that allows the wheels on one side to counter rotate to the other, which improves low speed maneuverability and decreases the turning circle.

2.4. Safety Considerations

To train in safety effectively, you must know the machine. You should read the operator’s manual to study all the safety indications and diagrams. All maintenance procedures and their respective safe practices should be identified and understood. Never leave a question in your mind. Uncertainty can cause an unsafe act. If you do not find the information you need in your operator’s manual, request it from your supervisor or someone who is experienced with the machine. A wise equipment operator will supervise the same safety rules for the loader as he would for himself. He knows that the machine is only as safe as the operator.

The safe completion of work-related tasks should always be your primary concern, and our instruction on the operation of the skid steer loader is no exception. Generally speaking, the basic operating skills required for a skid steer loader are like other equipment or vehicles, having the need for knowledge of the machine, safety measures, inspection and maintenance, pre-operating planning, and appropriate execution of the task and shutdown procedure.

3. Pre-Operational Checks

3.3 Assessing the Tyre Condition The intention is to ensure that the machine has good stability and that tyres will not cause damage or injury to themselves or any other person. This is done through checking that none of the tyres are excessively or non-uniformly worn. The operator will ensure that there are not any cuts or damage to the tyres which could result in a blow out with has the potential to cause a machine roll over. Any tyres without good tread or which have the potential to cause damage or injury should be reported and removed from the machine.

3.2 Checking Fluid Levels The operator will check that the engine is off and that all the fluid levels can be checked from ground level. Using a clean piece of cloth or tissue the operator will remove the transmission dipstick to allow excess fluids to run back into the transmission and then checks the transmission fluid level. Washing the dipstick and replacing into the fluid will then verify the correct level. The transmission dipstick has 2 level marks representing hot and cold oil, the levels need to be between these markings. With the engine off the operator checks and wipes clean the engine oil dipstick, places the dipstick back in the hole fully removes the stick and checks the oil level.

3.1 Inspecting the Machine The intention of this is to check the main element fixings to ensure that they are tight and not missing. Checks to be made are the tyre wheel nuts to the correct torque, the condition and security of the hydraulic hoses to all hydraulic functions, the condition of the quick hitch and check that the lift ram hoses are cable tied to the hitch of the bucket for protection against lift ram damage, bucket pins for the security of attachment. The operator leaves the machine through the left hand side ensuring he uses 3 points of contact when getting up and down from the machine. He checks the security of the inner and outer door hinges and the foot pedal to the cab body. If fitted the operator checks the condition and security of the rotating beacon, all lights. Brief visual assessment of the general appearance of the machine.

The skid steer loader should not be operated until the operator has completed the following checks:

3.1. Inspecting the Machine

Also, check the wheels and tires for wear and damage. Refer to the machine manufacturer’s manual for the correct tire specifications. Lift the loader off the ground and block it for safety. Loosen the wheel nuts while the wheel is free to turn, then lower the loader. The old wheels or tires can then be removed and the new ones fitted, finally tightening the nuts to the correct torque. This method will prevent any accidents caused by a falling loader. Always ensure that any replacement wheels or tires have a similar ply rating and rolling circumference as the original specification. An incorrect tire can be dangerous and cause the loader to handle differently.

You must conduct a visual inspection of the machine before getting in the cab and attempting to start the engine. Look underneath the machine for any signs of fluid leakage on the floor. This could indicate a leak in the hydraulic system. A leak in the hydraulic system means the loader will be less responsive and have less power for the drive and attachment functions. Therefore, it is not safe to operate. If you suspect a leak in the hydraulic system, determine if it is safe to use the loader to travel to higher ground where the underside can be inspected more clearly. Make sure you are clear of all danger, then tilt the ROPS and inspect the hydraulic system for signs of damage. If a hose or pipe is split, the loader may not respond at all when a control is operated for safety reasons. Seek expert advice for any problems with the hydraulic system. Attempting to repair a pipe, hose, or coupler in the hydraulic system can cause a dramatic and dangerous failure.

3.2. Checking Fluid Levels

To check the radiator water level, both the engine and radiator should be cool before removing the cap. The level should be up to the filler neck but do not overfill. Running an engine with air in the cooling system can cause damage or failure to the water pump, thus affecting engine cooling. Always check inside the engine compartment for any leaks of fuel and oil. This is not always caused by a loose component and may occur because of damaged or perished hydraulic hoses overheating from working close to the engine, or hoses that are rubbing against a machine component. All hoses and fittings should be replaced with the correct type and tightened to the correct torque settings. Hose replacements and any consumption of hydraulic oil should be noted for future maintenance of the machine.

To inspect hydraulic oil, which is one of the most vital checkpoints a skid steer loader operator can do, the first check is to inspect the level which should be visible in the reservoir sight gauge. When the loader has been operating or if the ambient temperature is low, the hydraulic cylinders should be cycled to check the level as the oil may be in the cylinders. This should be done with extreme caution and if the engine is off or the loader is stopped, particularly when working near cylinders which may drop. If more oil is required, the correct type as recommended by the loader manufacturer should be added, and the engine run at idle speed while working the cylinders and checking to ensure there are no leaks.

When checking engine oil, the vehicle must be on level ground to ensure an accurate reading. The oil should be at the full mark on the dipstick. To check the fuel level, with the plastic tank, it is just a visual check to ensure the tank doesn’t get too low. The diesel tank models, however, have a sedimentor and bleeding system on the side of the engine which must be drained periodically to avoid getting dirt into the fuel system. This should be done by placing a container below the sedimentor, opening the drain valve, and allowing the system to drain, then closing the valve and tightening the sedimentor plug. Step by step instructions are usually found in the operator’s manual.

When checking the fluid levels on a skid steer loader, there are six reservoirs that must be inspected. These are the engine oil, fuel, hydraulic oil, radiator water level, and checking for any leaks of fuel or oil. Each of these can be easily maintained by carrying out basic checks similar to those on an average vehicle.

3.3. Assessing Tire Condition

On completion of these checks, the tire pressures need to be adjusted. This can be done using the EOF and skid steer loader manuals, which should provide the relevant pressure figures. On completion of all tire checks, the driver should record the tire specifications on the machine defect report. This will allow monitoring of tire wear and timely rechecks of the previous inspection points.

The same procedure should be followed for each rear tire. When inspecting the rear tires, it is also important to check the wheel beads for damage and evidence of slippage. This can occur during sharp turns on hard ground and may prove to be a precursor for tire dislodgement from the rim. If any tire dislodgement or damage to the wheel beads is noted, deflate the tire and consult a tire fitting specialist. Any attempt to repair dislodged tires without specialist advice is dangerous and can result in serious injury.

When checking the tires, you should start with the right-hand side front tire and work your way around. Ensure that the tire valve is in good condition and that the dust cap is present. Having completed this, check the tire for any cuts, tears, or embedded objects. If any cuts or tears are present, it may be possible to repair the tire, providing the damaged area does not exceed 25% of the tire’s cross-sectional area. Any embedded objects should be removed, and the tire should be checked for pressure loss over an 8-hour period. If pressure loss occurs, the tire may need to be replaced. The final check for the front tires involves examining tread depth. All skid steer loaders are fitted with some form of block or bar tread pattern. CPCS specifies a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central 3/4 of the tire. This is to prevent damage to finished surfaces and improve driver stability.

4. Operating Techniques

Moving on to the next key area, this section covers various operating techniques that each affect the stability of the machine and therefore the safety of the operator and other site personnel. Starting and stopping the machine sounds simple and in essence it is, but if correct techniques are not applied, safety will be compromised. With the skid steer having no differential in the drive system, steering is achieved by driving the wheels on one side of the machine at a different speed or in reverse to the opposite side. Different maneuvering techniques must be used in order to achieve this on different surfaces. Operating the controls and attachments covers the differing drive control systems in the skid steer loader and how to operate attachments safely using the principles of good stability and load distribution. Load handling and lifting is perhaps the most crucial operation to be undertaken with the skid steer in terms of stability and balance. This is mainly due to the fact that with the attachment and control configuration of the skid steer, heavy lifting can be achieved in a large variety of situations compared to any other plant machine. This section covers the often complex theory of how much a skid steer can lift and how to assess whether a task is safe to undertake. Correct load distribution and stability will be explained along with what to do in critical situations where the machine stability is compromised during a lifting operation.

4.1. Starting and Stopping the Machine

Improper matching of the machine to the task required is often the cause of slow operation. For most tasks, use of the correct work tool is better than a bucket as this enhances machine utilization. If the machine is to be left unattended, for any considerable length of time, the engine should be turned off. This will save fuel and reduce emissions. Some tasks require one-way travel distances that are greater than the machine’s operating radius. In these cases, it is better to drive the machine to and from the work site. This is called “driving the machine to the job”. The machine is in transport mode when travel direction and speed can be controlled by the steering control. In confined areas, high traffic areas, or working near pedestrians, the machine should be operated in low-speed mode. Always choose the machine configuration most suited to the task.

The skid steer loader is a very versatile machine, and efficient operation is often dependent on correct use. Most damage occurs to these machines when loading and unloading from trucks or trailers, so this is an area to which great attention must be paid. This is an activity area in which skill levels vary greatly, for this reason, initial training should be performed under controlled and supervised conditions.

4.2. Steering and Maneuvering

Always demonstrate the H pattern steering and explain how the operator can pivot turn or counter rotate to change the machine’s direction of travel. Demonstrate how to use the skid steer Drag and Push functionality to change the direction of travel to an angle across a slope to avoid slippage or create a bench level.

Always try to travel with a load or attachment in the forward position and as low as possible for good visibility and machine stability. When working on gradients, if the load is too heavy or high, this will affect the machine’s center of gravity and could potentially cause a tip over. Avoid turning or crossing slopes when carrying a load or attachment. Use the hydraulic skid steer functionality instead to change the machine’s direction of travel. Turning on a gradient will increase the chance of a tip over on the lower side of the machine.

Ensure you walk the site and confirm the route you will need to travel. Assess the ground conditions, the gradient, the space available, and any adverse cambers. Select an attachment appropriate to the task so that you reduce the need to change attachments or add to cycle time. It may be beneficial to have a spotter/loader signaller to assist you where visibility is restricted or if there are other site personnel in the vicinity to manoeuvre around. This will reduce the risk of collision with site personnel and other plant.

4.3. Operating Controls and Attachments

Hand controls are the first choice. A skilled operator can maneuver with ease and precision. For an inexperienced operator, foot and hand controls can be confusing and hard to coordinate. Even experienced operators of other machinery hire skid steer loaders with hand controls as an alternative to foot pedals. There is also the option of using a joystick to control the skid steer. This is a good solution for operators with disabilities who normally would not be able to operate a skid steer due to the constraints of traditional control systems.

Some skid steer loaders will have different methods of control, but the majority will be operated using hand controls. These can consist of two levers that control the drive functions (one to go forward and the other for reverse). Another two levers control the bucket or attachment. These are generally very simple to push or pull and will control the angle or tilt of the bucket. Finally, there is some kind of switch or button to operate the auxiliary circuit for attachments. Most new skid steer loaders will have pilot controls. These are a much more precise and quicker way of operating the drive, loader, and attachment controls using hand controls. This system is more complex, but an experienced operator will soon learn how to operate one. Moving from standard foot pedal and lever controls to pilot controls will take a lot of practice. It’s best to be proficient in the operation of a skid steer before wrestling with the complexities of pilot controls.

4.4. Load Handling and Lifting

When lifting with a skid steer loader, it is important to ensure that the load is evenly balanced as it is lifted. If the load is not secure or has a high center of gravity, this can lead to the machine becoming unstable and possibly turning over. This is one of the most common and most dangerous unsafe practices with skid steer loaders. The multi-terrain loaders have greater lifting capabilities than the equivalent-sized skid steer due to the tracks providing better weight distribution. Should it be necessary to operate on a slope while lifting, it is again very important to ensure that the load is not lifted up the slope as this can cause the machine to become unstable. Should the load be very heavy or awkward to handle, it is prudent to carry it as low as possible. This will help to maintain stability of the machine. If a load is carried suspended, it is important to ensure that the hydraulic power is sufficient to maintain the lift, taking into account that the machine will lift greater loads when in a static position compared to when on the move. On rubber-tired machines, the lift capabilities are greatly reduced with an increased angle of the loader arm. The stability of the loader is also compromised when lifting heavy loads in this manner. Always refer to the operator’s manual for the specific machine lifting capabilities and seek the task to be authorized by a competent person.

5. Safety Guidelines

To avoid accidents, operators must be provided with the proper PPE. This includes a hard hat, steel toecap boots, high visibility clothing, and gloves. Gloves will depend on the specific job to be carried out, but it must be remembered that the loader arms and bucket will be the primary task in most situations. As a minimum, the operator should wear gloves that offer protection from hydraulic fluid injection injuries. For those tasks involving cutting or crushing hazards, operators should be provided with and wear gloves that offer protection from cuts and that offer some level of vibration damping. Safety helmets and gloves must comply with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992. A suitable practical alternative for occasional site visitors, such as delivery drivers, could be provision of disposable PPE. Personal protective equipment can be divided into different categories for specific tasks, e.g. earth moving PPE. This does not mean that one employee requires a full set of PPE for every category. It needs to be assessed specifically on the tasks that they will be performing.

5.1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Given their versatility and numerous attachment options, skid steer loaders are used in many applications. Usually, their open cabs offer minimal protection to the operator from the environment, and the use of a FOPS and/or ROPS structure is highly recommended. A roll-over protective structure and/or falling object protective structure (ROPS and FOPS) are frame structures or bars used to protect equipment operators from injuries caused by vehicle overturn or rollover. Falls from a height are a common cause of fatalities, and FOPS reduce the risk of injury caused by contact with the ground or a foreign object by providing a protective zone for the operator. ROPS are commonly found on agricultural and industrial tractors and are designed to create a protective zone around the operator in the event of a rollover by use of a reinforced cab and a frame fastened to the vehicle. The types of approved protective structures are specific to certain types of machinery, and they have saved many lives. Always ensure that the protective structure used is suitable for that particular machine and that it has been installed according to the manufacturers’ instructions. These protective structures are usually paramount in ensuring the operator’s safety, but other PPE may also be required for certain tasks. For example, using a hydraulic breaker attachment will necessitate the use of ear/hearing protection, and eye protection is commonly used for tasks involving dust or small flying debris.

Workers should wear the prescribed PPE by the manufacturers for the protection to be effective. If it is not worn, it can greatly reduce the level of protection offered. Consult the manufacturers’ guidelines provided with the PPE. Employers have to provide – (free of charge) and ensure personal protective equipment is worn or used. For any personal protective equipment (PPE), the user must be given adequate information, instruction, and training on its use. This must include how to wear it, what its limitations are, and how to identify when it should be replaced. Workers should be instructed on the correct fitting, maintenance, and replacement of the PPE, and it should be stored in a suitable place where it can be checked and easily accessed. All PPE should be properly looked after and stored when not in use. If it is damaged, it should be reported and replaced. This section illustrates some of the PPE required for operating a skid-steer or compact track loader. Proper training of which type of PPE to use is vital to ensure the ongoing safety of the worker.

5.2. Traffic Management

Rental companies or contractors hiring skid steer loaders might not have considered the safety requirements involved with an item of plant such as a skid-steer loader. The first consideration in ensuring the safety of all personnel involved on or around the site is to assess the traffic that will circulate around the skid-steer loader. If the skid-steer loader is operating on a construction site that is shared with the general public, the first action is to separate the public from the loader by fencing the loader and its work area off from all public access. Regarding access to the work area involving other plant, it is best to have a site traffic management plan that clearly marks out traffic routes and segregates pedestrian traffic from machine traffic. Any personnel working near the skid-steer loader where there is potential for the loader to move in their direction should be informed of the presence of the loader and potential hazards that it might present. When it comes to onto the machine tasks such as refueling or routine maintenance work, where there is no need for the machine to be operating, it is best to do these tasks at the end of the day or move the machine to a position out of the way of other traffic. An operator should never leave a skid-steer loader in an inoperable position on public roads or busy access ways. If it must be left in an inoperable position in an area of high traffic it is best to remove the ignition key and place warning signs or barriers around the loader. Finally, an effective way to manage traffic and hazards around a skid steer loader is with the use of a trained and competent traffic controller.

5.3. Hazard Identification and Control

Your Comments The purpose of this session is to outline safe working practices to ensure risks of injury and damage are minimized. The trainer should make a list of typical work tasks undertaken on a skid steer loader and then carry out a risk assessment. Make a note of the significant findings and the protective measures required. Compile a safety/work instruction related to the task. (Group discussion and feedback). List typical tasks using a skid steer loader: i.e. attachments, digging etc. Compile a list of all known hazards for each task. (Group work and feedback). Give out a Hazard Identification Task Sheet and get the trainees to work on a task of their choice. This can be done in pairs. It should involve identifying hazards, assessing the risks and making a list of control measures. (Practical – Individual task). Compile a list of control measures for future reference.

5.4. Emergency Procedures

Emergencies at work can occur at any time, from a simple hand injury caused by a misuse of the machine to a serious incident involving a site evacuation and medical assistance. It is vital that your employees are prepared to handle any emergency that may occur while on a work site. Various missions have different emergency procedures. An emergency is an unplanned event that can cause death or injury to employees or the public, or that may cause damage to the environment. Any of the above-mentioned emergencies must be treated seriously, and if an employee is in doubt that an emergency is occurring, it should be assumed that it is and must be reported to the employer. After assessing that an emergency does exist, all efforts should be made to immediately end the situation in the safest way possible. This may require stopping the machine, evacuating the area, or stopping other work. Often in CPCS assessment and indeed on real work sites, a sudden situation will arise where an operator must lift and remove a load under adverse ground conditions. A lift and removal operation to end an emergency situation must only be carried out if it can be done safely. The operator should consider if it is possible to do this given the machine and attachments available. If conditions do not permit a safe lift and removal operation, it may be safer to call for outside assistance.

6. Maintenance and Inspection

Keeping the CPCS test in mind, it is very important that you carry out the maintenance and inspection of the equipment before it is operated every day. You and only you are responsible for the machines if it is involved in an accident. If your machine is found to be the cause of an accident by an enforcing officer and it is found that the accident could have been prevented if the machine was properly maintained, then you could be liable to prosecution. This is assuming that you are the operator and that it is your machine. If you are the person employing the operator and the accident was due to a fault on the machine, then you could be liable for allowing a machine on site that is dangerous to others. On another note, if you are working on a site for somebody, they might ask for proof that the machine is properly maintained at regular intervals. Now we do not know what type of maintenance records an enforcing officer or someone of a higher authority may want to see, but the best thing to keep would be the handbook for the machine and fill in the service record at the back of it every time a service is carried out. By doing this, you will always have a record of what has been done on the machine, from changing hydraulic hoses to changing seals on the lift arms. An enforcing officer may even want to see that the person carrying out the maintenance is competent to do so. Carry out the following maintenance tasks on a daily basis: – Check for oil leaks – Grease moving parts – Check coolant level – Check engine oil level – Check hydraulic oil level – Torque check all action fasteners Now, if you have lubricated all of the moving parts and there are no grease leaks, and there are no leaks from the oil, coolant, and hydraulic systems, you know that it is a good indication that your daily maintenance task has already been carried out to a high standard. This is important because defective machines can fail or overturn, causing damage or waste when wrongly used. Therefore, your machine is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s handbook, and you are complying with regulation 23 of PUWER 98.

6.1. Daily Maintenance Tasks

In addition to these tasks there are further daily checks that should be carried out to ensure the machine is in a safe and serviceable condition for operation and to minimize the potential for causing harm to the operator or any other persons due to damaged or worn equipment. These checks are specified in the manufacturers machine operating and maintenance instructions by the “Pre-Start Inspection Checklist or similar. This is a safety critical inspection where the operator will inspect various systems on the machine and sign to confirm it is safe to use. On completion of the Checklist the operator is required to perform a “circle check” of the equipment where the major components and systems are checked for any damage or malfunction that may have occurred during the last operation of the machine. Any defective equipment should be tagged or marked as out of service and machine operation prohibited until the necessary repair has been completed. Any potentially dangerous condition must be reported to the supervisor or employer immediately. It is important that the operator is familiar with the machine and its controls to enable proper maintenance and efficient completion of tasks. A poorly maintained machine is often a reflection of the operator.

Routine maintenance should be carried out by the operator on a daily basis in order to keep the machine in good working order. Time spent on these tasks can save much more time and money on repair or more serious maintenance later on. The daily maintenance tasks consist of: – Checking all nuts and bolts are tight. – Checking hydraulic couplers for leaks. – Checking hydraulic hoses for damage and leaks. – Checking tyre pressures. – Checking for any damage on tyres. – Checking for damage on the push pull and lift lower cables. – Checking the condition of the bucket and fork. If the bottom of the bucket has worn to a point where the edge has become thin and the radius reduced it should be replaced. If the fork tyne has become very slopped and thin it should be replaced. – Checking all lights and alarms are working. – Greasing all grease nipples (approximately 9 on a new machine with a further 5 if a set of pallet forks is installed) with a hand operated grease gun.

6.2. Lubrication and Fluid Replacement

Lubrication and fluid replacement is an essential part of the maintenance practices of the loader for prolonging the life and ensuring that it is always in a safe condition for operation. It cannot be overemphasized that it should be carried out carefully and systematically. Become familiar with the locations of all grease nipples on the loader. All moving parts are fitted with grease nipples. Any grease in a sealed joint or hub will always force out the weakest seal therefore branded ‘sealed for life’ joints and hubs are not lubricated and will have a vent hole. Grease these joints until fresh grease is observed at this hole. Wipe all nipples clean before greasing and always use a nipple attachment on the grease gun, this prevents dirt being forced in with the grease. Over greasing can be as damaging as insufficient greasing. All joints have a recommended frequency for greasing; this is denoted by an ‘h’ symbol followed by a number on the grease point. On the last page of this section is a list of the points needing greasing with the recommended frequency in hours in the brackets. A lubrication chart is usually located near the loader. Keep records of greasing as under or over greasing is usually caused by ignorance of the proposed schedule. This can be disregarded when only using the loader for a very short period. The cost of scheduling is relatively cheap prevention against very expensive repair costs. Using the recommended lubricants and greases is as important as greasing at the recommended intervals. Check with the supplier that the correct lubricants are always in stock. All manufacturers of lubricants will supply an analysis of their product. This can be useful in identifying a grease if the usage is infrequent. This should be a quick lubrication of any wear items where only a few grease strokes are required. Keep a sealable container of grease in the toolbox to cater for any lubrication when the loader is used away from the storage area. This prevents slopping around a grease gun cartridge to go and fetch the grease gun if a point is missed. There is usually no need to store lump grease or solid blocks of grease. Any replacement seal joints should be lubricated before fitting with a common grease gun and wiped clean. This should be limited to what can be achieved in a short period to prevent building up a stock of joint parts. A long term stock keeping of joint parts could cause confusion between old and new parts due to updating of specifications. Joint parts should be updated as a set due to design changes.

6.3. Periodic Inspection and Servicing

While following the appropriate service and disposal of fluids procedures, with the loader raised as above, drain the drive motor gearboxes. Utilize a clean container to collect the oil for inspection. Any contamination may tip you off to a problem within the drive motor and its relative gearbox. Clean drained oil will have a translucent look. If drained oil appears to be milky, this could be a symptom of water getting into the system. If it is dark in color, this indicates excessive wear. If any of these conditions are met, consult a plant mechanic or contact the oil manufacturer for advice. Remember to identify material in the drain as transmission oil and store the container in a safe place away from children.

The following checks should be carried out every 500 hours and as part of scheduled maintenance: inspect hoses for wear and damage.

With the engine turned off, battery disconnected, and utilizing appropriate props, carry out the following: – Raise the front of the machine. – Support the loader arms during this task. – Remove the right-hand side inspection plate to allow access to the transmission.

It is necessary to periodically inspect the condition of your skid steer’s components and carry out necessary servicing tasks. Neglect and oversight can result in serious accidents.