Safely Operating a Skid Steer in the Canadian Workplace

Skid Steer Training

Employer Responsibilities for Safely Operating a Skid Steer in the Canadian Workplace

The operation of skid steer loaders is common in various industries across Canada, including construction, agriculture, and landscaping. These versatile machines can significantly improve productivity but also pose certain risks if not operated safely. It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that workers are properly trained and equipped to operate skid steers safely. In this article, we will explore the key responsibilities that employers have when training workers to safely operate a skid steer in the workplace in Canada.

Understanding Skid Steer Loaders

A skid steer loader, often referred to simply as a skid steer, is a compact construction machine equipped with a bucket or attachment on the front and a set of tracked or wheeled tires. Skid steers are known for their maneuverability and ability to perform various tasks, such as excavation, material handling, and snow removal. However, these machines can be hazardous if not operated by trained and competent individuals.

Employer Responsibilities for Safe Skid Steer Operation

  1. Worker Training and Competency:
    • Employers have a primary responsibility to ensure that workers operating skid steers are adequately trained and competent.
    • Training should cover both theoretical knowledge and practical skills related to skid steer operation.
  2. Selection of Qualified Instructors:
    • Employers should appoint qualified instructors or trainers who have expertise in skid steer operation.
    • Instructors should possess the necessary knowledge and experience to effectively convey safe operating practices to workers.
  3. Written Operating Procedures:
    • Employers must develop written operating procedures for skid steer use within the workplace.
    • These procedures should outline safety guidelines, equipment inspections, start-up and shutdown procedures, and emergency protocols.
  4. Pre-Operation Inspections:
    • Workers must perform pre-operation inspections on skid steers before each use.
    • Employers should provide a checklist to guide workers in identifying potential equipment issues.
  5. Proper Equipment Maintenance:
    • Employers are responsible for ensuring that skid steers are well-maintained and in safe working condition.
    • Regular maintenance schedules and documentation should be established and followed.
  6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • Employers must provide and enforce the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for skid steer operators.
    • This may include safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, and hearing protection.
  7. Safe Operating Practices:
    • Employers should establish and communicate safe operating practices for skid steer operation.
    • Workers must be trained to follow these practices, including maintaining proper seating and seatbelt use, keeping hands and body inside the cab, and avoiding sudden movements.
  8. Training Records and Documentation:
    • Employers should maintain records of skid steer training for each operator.
    • This documentation should include training dates, the names of instructors, and any certifications received by workers.
  9. Emergency Response and Rescue Procedures:
    • Employers must have clear emergency response and rescue procedures in place for skid steer-related incidents.
    • Workers should be trained in these procedures to ensure a swift and effective response in case of accidents or entrapment.
  10. Load Limits and Attachments:
    • Employers should provide information on load limits and the safe use of attachments for skid steers.
    • Workers should be aware of the machine’s capacity and the appropriate attachments for specific tasks.
  11. Regular Skill Assessment:
    • Employers should conduct regular skill assessments for skid steer operators to ensure that they remain competent and proficient in their tasks.
    • Workers should receive refresher training as needed.
  12. Proper Storage and Transport:
    • Employers should establish guidelines for the safe storage and transport of skid steers, including securing the machine during transport and storing it in designated areas.
  13. Communication and Signage:
    • Employers should clearly communicate safety information related to skid steer operation.
    • Adequate signage should be posted to remind workers of safety protocols and equipment-specific guidelines.

Real-World Implementation

To illustrate the practical implementation of these responsibilities, let’s consider a real-world scenario in a construction company based in Alberta, Canada:

Scenario: A construction company regularly uses skid steers on various job sites for tasks such as material handling and site preparation. The company recognizes the importance of ensuring safe skid steer operation.


  1. Worker Training:
    • The company arranges for skid steer training sessions for all workers who will operate these machines.
    • Training includes both classroom instruction and hands-on experience under the guidance of a qualified instructor.
  2. Qualified Instructors:
    • The company hires an experienced skid steer operator as an instructor.
    • The instructor has a proven track record of safe operation and is familiar with the specific skid steer models used by the company.
  3. Written Operating Procedures:
    • The company develops detailed written operating procedures for skid steer use, which are distributed to all operators.
    • These procedures cover safety checks, start-up and shutdown protocols, and emergency response guidelines.
  4. Pre-Operation Inspections:
    • Workers are trained to perform pre-operation inspections using a checklist provided by the company.
    • Any identified issues are promptly reported to supervisors for resolution.
  5. Equipment Maintenance:
    • The company establishes a maintenance schedule for skid steers, including routine inspections, lubrication, and repairs.
    • Maintenance records are diligently maintained.
  6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • The company provides operators with the required PPE, including helmets, gloves, and eye protection.
    • Operators are required to wear the provided PPE during skid steer operation.
  7. Safe Operating Practices:
    • Safe operating practices are communicated to all workers, emphasizing the importance of following safety guidelines at all times.
    • Operators are trained to remain seated, use seatbelts, and avoid sudden or unsafe maneuvers.
  8. Training Records and Documentation:
    • The company maintains detailed training records for each skid steer operator.
    • This documentation includes training dates, instructor names, and any certifications received.
  9. Emergency Response and Rescue Procedures:
    • The company has established emergency response and rescue procedures specific to skid steer incidents.
    • Operators are trained in these procedures and participate in periodic drills.
  10. Load Limits and Attachments:
    • Clear information on load limits and attachment usage is provided to all operators.
    • Workers are trained to assess loads and select appropriate attachments for tasks.
  11. Regular Skill Assessment:
    • The company conducts regular skill assessments for skid steer operators.
    • Any areas requiring improvement are addressed through additional training.
  12. Proper Storage and Transport:
    • Guidelines for securing skid steers during transport and storing them in designated areas are communicated to all workers.
    • Workers follow these guidelines to prevent accidents.
  13. Communication and Signage:
    • The company maintains clear communication regarding skid steer safety through safety meetings, posters, and safety signage in the workplace.


  • The construction company experiences a significant reduction in skid steer-related incidents and accidents.
  • Workers are well-trained and confident in their ability to operate skid steers safely, leading to increased productivity and a positive safety culture.
  • The company remains compliant with relevant safety regulations and guidelines.

Ensuring the safe operation of skid steers in the Canadian workplace is a fundamental responsibility of employers and requires proper training, equipment maintenance, and adherence to safety protocols. By fulfilling their responsibilities, employers can create a safer work environment, reduce accidents and injuries, and promote a culture of safety among workers. Ultimately, a well-prepared and safety-conscious workforce is the key to achieving productivity and success while minimizing the potential for harm in the operation of skid steer loaders.