Other types of training materials are also available for use. There are operational and safety training videos available for viewing for free online. There are training materials available which are designed to be part of an overall safety program. The Ohio State University Extension has a producer taught online agricultural safety training curriculum called Agricultural Tailgate Safety Training. This curriculum consists of 85 modules on different agricultural safety topics. Each module is designed to assist and lead farm owners or managers through the leadership of short do-it-yourself training sessions. One session of this curriculum focuses on skid-steer safety.
The University of Wisconsin Extension sells a CD based training program for use with dairy farm employees (This particular CD has both a skid-steer training segment and an animal-handling segment which is a useful training topic as well).
Another option available is to bring in training specialists. In much of the country, general industry is required to provide training and certification of employees using certain types of equipment. In many cases, agricultural operations may be exempt from this requirement, but that does not mean that these local training resources cannot be utilized on agricultural operations. Lastly, there are a variety of high quality publications addressing skid-steer safety that are free and appropriate for use as the basis for on-farm training.
The skid-steer loader will remain one of the most valuable tools deployed on our farms. It is flexible, powerful and agile. It can work in small spaces where larger loaders cannot. But it also comes with an achilles heel. The skid-steer can be a dangerous machine to use. It requires knowledge and understanding to safely utilize its capabilities to the fullest. Please consider utilizing one of the many available training options to ensure your business is not the next to make the news.
Dean Ross is an agrosecurity and dairy farm management consultant based in Michigan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org