How to Safely Operate and Maneuver a Bobcat® Skid-Steer Loader

Bobcat Skid-Steer LoaderSkid-steer loaders made by Bobcat® enjoy a 50-year reputation for performance and reliability. The company manufactures more than 12 skid-steer loader models and over 70 attachments to accommodate a number of outdoor projects that require a digging machine:

  • Great for ongoing or one-time jobs
  • Quick-change attachments and maintenance-free chain case help make the most of the work day
  • Efficient, dependable performance for maximum digs, lifts and dumps
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Machine shutdown protection, pressurized cabs with all-around visibility, heat and air conditioning keep operators comfortable and safe

A compact machine used for digging, the skid-steer loader also pushes, pulls and lifts material. Popular for use in building, construction, landscaping and farm work, the skid-steer loader is a lighter machine that can maneuver better than a typical tractor front loader, making quicker work of manual labor jobs that would take more time and effort without equipment. They also have a number of attachments, including different types and sizes of buckets, backhoes, forks, hammers, brooms, and augers that help with the machine’s versatility and performance.

Training and Safety

To safely operate a Bobcat® skid-steer loader, the company offers operator training and service safety courses, which review best practices for safe operation through video presentations, classroom exercises and hands-on operation. Although the training courses available through Bobcat give trainees an overall knowledge of safe and efficient operation, they are not designed to license or certify operators as skilled or factory authorized operators. However, here are a few tips on Bobcat safety:

  • Always clear the work area
  • Stand away from the front of the buckets as it is raised
  • Warn other workers before moving or raising the bucket
  • Keep all safety structures, cages and screens in place for operator protection in case of rollover
  • In case of an emergency, remove hands and feet from the controls until the machine stops moving

Tips for Driving a Bobcat

Learning how to maneuver properly in a Bobcat starts with examining the terrain, checking the work area for hazards overhead, like power lines. The trick is to not get stuck or roll the machine over. Do not drive over too-rough ground or into soft, soggy soil, and avoid creeks, ravines and steep banks. Make no sudden stops, starts or turns, and move along at a speed that is appropriate for the existing conditions and visibility. Drive up and down slopes with the bucket lowered. Drive across slopes, and you could tip the skid-steer loader over. Dump material by driving around a fence rather than dumping over one to avoid operator injury.

Tips for Loading a Bobcat

  • Drive the Bobcat into a pile of material
  • Raising the bucket after the machine is in position
  • Tilt a loaded bucket upwards
  • Back away from the pile slowly
  • Once far enough from the pile, lower the loaded bucket and drive to the dumping area
  • Raise the bucket just before positioning it over the truck or pile and dump
  • Always be ready to lower the bucket quickly in case the equipment feels unstable
  • The machine’s weight can cause trenches to collapse, so take care when backfilling
  • Abide by the manufacturer’s recommended maximum loads
  • Overloading makes the Bobcat steering front-heavy, erratic and unstable

Tips for Bobcat Balance

Aim for keeping a Bobcat skid-steer loader in a balanced position. A Bobcat carries two-thirds of its weight on the rear axles when empty. A full load transfers that weight and the machines balance to the front wheels. Always move with the arms and bucket lowered for maximum stability. When negotiating slopes, keep the heaviest end of the Bobcat pointing uphill to reduce the risk of turning the Bobcat over.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with moving projects. We rent the entire line of Bobcat® Skid-Steer Loaders and attachable buckets. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Categories: Choosing Equipment, Featured Products, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “How to Safely Operate and Maneuver a Bobcat® Skid-Steer Loader

  1. For those of us who want to renovate or need to move lots of gravel, Bobcat’s are great one time use machines. Unfortunately, not many of us drive them on a daily basis. I gained a lot of knowledge thanks to this list of tips for loading the Bobcat as mentioned. The tips for balance will also make projects involving uneven ground a lot easier to maneuver! Great insight for those of us who want to learn how to use these machines!

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Most Popular Runyon Equipment Rentals for Fall | Runyon Equipment Rental Blog

  3. I think this is a real great article post.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

  4. This is a full blown tutorial, Great post. Skid Steer loaders are one of the most valuable tools used in the construction industry these days. But before you start operating your machine, you need to beware of your surroundings. As it is very important for an operator to have a good visibility of the entire site at all time.

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