SafetyWatch: Understand loading, operating limits

July 23, 2018 -  By

There’s a limit to what machines can lift. These limits are different with every machine and attachment. For example, the limit of pallet forks and small landscape buckets is different because with pallet forks, the load is farther away from the loader itself. A skid-steer loader operates under the same principle.

Every skid-steer has a rated operating capacity (ROC), which is the weight the loader arms can handle to any lifting height. If the machine can lift material off the ground—but not more than a foot or two—this means the load exceeds the machine’s ROC. You can still work safely with the pallet, but you can’t move it more than a couple of feet.

A skid-steer also has a tipping capacity: Any weight greater than this amount will generally tip the machine forward, or the machine will simply not be able to lift it. The tipping capacity is usually about twice the weight of the ROC. Tipping forward presents many potential hazards, so it’s important to avoid tipping.

There are also other variables that can affect the limits, such as the ground’s slope. For example, if you’re transporting a load on sloped ground and driving on a hill, the load is more likely to tip than if you’re on flat ground. Avoid high lifting when you’re not on flat ground.

Experienced operators go very slowly and cautiously when they have a load that may tip the machine, and they always keep the load close to the ground. Newer operators should ask a supervisor or experienced coworker what is safe to carry.

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