The backhoe loader is one of the most useful and versatile machines in your construction equipment arsenal, but it can potentially be one of the most dangerous if not treated with respect. Disregarding safety precautions can prove costly in a variety of ways. You can avoid problems by following some simple safety tips both prior to, and during, operation.
1. Always conduct a walk-around inspection.
Check for damage to the bucket or attached tool, and inspect all hydraulic hoses.Look under the machine for any leaks. Check tires for damage and pressure. And don’t forget daily fluid checks (Glycol, engine oil, transmission fluid, air filter indicator and hydraulic oil).
2. Safe operation begins before you step into the cab.
Survey your surroundings and operating conditions. Once in the cab adjust the seat and steering wheel for comfort and ease-of-use. Make sure the boom is locked and the swing lock is in place if you are going to road the machine. Before you dig, be sure you are aware of which control pattern has been selected for your machine (BHL or HEX pattern).
3. Use your stabilizers appropriately.
When using the hoe, stabilizers should be down enough to take the weight of the machine. We recommend that the front bucket be down, lifting the front of the machine for maximum stability. However, for some operations it is possible to operate with the front bucket up off the ground, but not fully raised.
4. Keep best practices in mind when lifting heavy objects.
It is essential to make your machine as stable as possible when lifting heavy objects. The machine should be level with the front and rear tires raised clear of the ground by around six inches. Keep the stabilizers spread as far apart as possible without letting any tires touch the ground. Lift using proper lifting equipment and use the integrated lifting eye on the power link of the backhoe.Lift at low idle for maximum control. This will also allow you to communicate with ground workers. Know your machine’s working range for the weight you are lifting. Use the stick function for maximum capability, and the e-stick if needed, to move the weight outward.
5. Observe safe operating procedures on hills.
When you are in operating position, level the machine as much as possible using the independent stabilizers and your front bucket. If you have to operate on the side of a hill and you can’t get the machine totally level, you should try as much as possible to swing uphill with the loaded bucket and downhill with the empty bucket. If you are trenching while facing uphill and you are ready to move, put the hoe into its tucked position, then turn your seat to the forward facing ready-to-drive position before raising the stabilizers. This gives you control over the brakes and transmission, preventing the machine from rolling backwards.
6. Take precautions when transporting materials.
Never carry more than the machine can safely handle. Try to carry materials in a level or racked-back position. If driving on the open road, use ride control(if equipped), and keep loads as close to the ground as possible until you have to raise them up or dump them.
7. Know how to safely load your backhoe onto a transport trailer.
Depending on the departure angle of the trailer, sometimes it is better to load a BHL by backing it onto the trailer. A machine with the boom locked and the swing cast transport lock in place is safe to transport, however, it is best to lay the boom out if possible to lower transport height. Four independent chains should be used to secure the machine to the trailer.