A backhoe loader is possibly one of the most popular pieces of construction equipment.  The person sitting in the operator’s seat is the one responsible for the safety of this machine.  Overconfidence from experienced operators is often the cause of accidents with the backhoe loader.  Leading causes of accidents with backhoe loaders are usually working too close to the edge of a steep incline or operating on steep or uneven surfaces.  Some loads may change the centre of gravity which may, in turn, affect the stability of the machine, so operators should think about every single move before they make it.  Operating the machine slowly and steadily, always keeping the load as close to the ground as possible until arriving at the spot that you going to load it is the safest way to operate this machine.

When using the backhoe to dig a trench it is important to create stability for the machine.  The backhoe loader has stabilizers and these are used to stabilize the machine and stop it from sliding while you are digging a trench.  The stabilizers should be spread to their full extent and the bucket should be in solid contact with the ground.  It is of the utmost importance that you never use the backhoe without the stabilizers down.  The only time the stabilizers are picked up is when the machine has to be repositioned.  After repositioning the stabilizer should go back down on firm ground! Ensure that the machine is level with the front and rear tires about 15cm off the ground and make sure the ground under your stabilizers are set on stable ground before lifting any heavy load.

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The operator should know the weight of the load and also the weight that the machine can safely lift.  It is also good practice to do a practice lift before you start moving the load around.

When transporting materials be careful when going up or down hills.  When going up a hill ensure that the bucket is pointing up the hill.  And it’s best to reverse it down a hill if you have a full bucket. Key to operating a backhoe loader safely is slowly.  These machines are not made for speed and so when operators try and speed things up the backhoe loader ends up bouncing all over the place and compromising safety not only for the operator but everyone on site.

Understanding the limits of your backhoe loader is the key to safety.  Never carry more than the machine can handle.  Always carry loads as close to the ground as possible until you have to raise them up to load or dump.  Always take extra care when working on a slope and remember your load changes your center of gravity.