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How to Safely Maintain Your Backhoe Loader

Your backhoe loader is a workhorse that is an asset on many construction sites.

Thu August 20, 2015 - National Edition

Your backhoe loader is a workhorse that is an asset on many construction sites. It’s important to keep up on maintenance and attend to any service and repair issues immediately, so you can get the most from your investment and enjoy the safe operation of the machine. Regular maintenance can also help you extend the life of the components and improve uptime. Daily preventative maintenance and well-trained equipment operators are two ways to ensure a safe and long life for your backhoe loader.

Safety Comes First on the Construction Site

We all want to be safe and productive in our jobs. Unfortunately, construction workers face the highest risk for injury due to the nature of their work environment and the pressure that can accompany certain projects. While nearly every workplace can feel the tension of an important project, workers that run heavy equipment need to be conditioned to not let high pressure interfere with safety — which can result in tragic and disastrous outcomes.

Equipment Operator Education

Operator education shouldn’t just happen once, but it should be a continually evolving part of the job. Obvious training on the operation of the equipment is highly important, but so are other necessary actions of the operator to get their job done safely and productively.

To provide your operator with the best work experience and have your expensive machinery treated well, follow these tips related to operator responsibilities:

  • Provide new operators with a complete training session on the use and operation of your backhoe loader even if they have past experience. Not all backhoe loaders are the same and you want to be sure that the operator knows you take safety seriously.
  • Make sure the equipment’s safety features are operational and all controls are clearly labeled.
  • Train operators on the appropriate visual and operational checks that need to be done before working the machine.
  • Use the equipment attachments and their operating systems as indicated by the manufacturer.
  • Train operators to make a visual check of the quick-disconnect systems after changing attachments and check periodically while operating.
  • Educate operators on the safety-conscious process of lowering the boom to rest the bucket on the ground and turning off the engine before getting off the backhoe loader.
Site Worker Education

Everyone that is close to an operational backhoe loader also needs to be correctly trained on safety measures for heavy machinery. One small mistake can lead to a fatal tragedy. To keep safety intact, make the following advice part of your site worker training:

  • Be aware of the swing area of the attachments and blind spots of the operator. Workers that are on foot should be outside of these areas at all times.
  • Machine operators and on-foot workers need to review communication signals at the beginning of each shift.
  • Never approach the hydraulic excavator or backhoe loader until the driver has shut down the machine.
  • Never work from the backhoe loader and excavator buckets.
  • Recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, and follow safe work practices specific to the work environment.

Preventative Maintenance That Gets the Job Done

When your equipment operators and other site workers are knowledgeable about proper conduct on and around your machinery, it’s a solid foundation to the successful and timely completion of many jobs. Keep making that foundation strong with a preventive maintenance plan by following the steps below:

The Daily Inspection
  • Walk around and inspect your machine as indicated by the manufacturer.
  • Check the cutting edge of the bucket for wear and signs that it needs replaced, and also check to see if all the bolts are still intact and tight.
  • Check any component that makes contact with the ground for wear, specifically the bucket pins, swing pins and backhoe hoses.
  • Check the boom and stick for leaks and wear, and then make sure bucket teeth are all there with retainer pins.
  • Look under the machine for signs of leaks.
  • Make sure the air filter is still in good shape.
  • Inspect the tires to check the pressure and look for any cuts.
  • Fluid Maintenance
  • Check the coolant and windshield washer levels and top them, if needed.
  • Make sure engine oil and hydraulic fluid stays clean. Take extra care to avoid contamination of the systems from careless checking and filling
  • Greasing

    Improper greasing is one of the leading causes of preventable breakdowns. Use the recommended grade of grease, and make sure your maintenance person is aware of every joint that should be greased. There will be several joints that require daily greasing as well as a weekly greasing schedule. The key is not to apply to little or too much lubrication. Refer to your operation and maintenance manual for your backhoe loader to learn about the specifications of the manufacturer.

    Make Safety and Maintenance Your Priority

    Creating a preventative maintenance schedule that includes a thorough inspection by the operator and a scheduled weekly or bi-weekly meeting with your maintenance crew will keep your backhoe loader going strong and working hard. Keeping your equipment in prime shape is an ideal way to reduce downtime. However, the focus on safety protocol is equally as important to the life of your equipment and the productivity of your workforce. Safety and maintenance always go hand-in-hand.

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