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Backhoe Safety Talk


Backhoes are one of the most prevalent types of equipment found at construction sites. Backhoe operators are required to follow stringent safety procedures. Failure to follow these procedures can put both the operator and other workers at risk.

What are the hazards?

  • Striking pedestrians when maneuvering or excavating
  • Being struck when quick-disconnect buckets unexpectedly detach
  • Collisions with other vehicles or structures
  • Cable strike when excavating
  • Toppling due to open excavations and ground failure
  • Toppling due to turning with an elevated load or at speed
  • Hydraulic failure
  • Mechanical failure
  • Striking overhead power lines

All of these potential hazards can have life-threatening results and great care must be exercised when using a backhoe loader

The following best practices should be used when operating backhoes:

  • Read and review the operator’s manual. Familiarize yourself with the operator controls
  • Familiarize yourself with the area where work will be performed. Locate ditches, stumps, debris, and undercut banks and avoid these hazards by keeping a safe distance away
  • Locate overhead and underground utility lines before work begins. Avoid working near overhead power lines if at all possible. If working near power lines cannot be avoided, develop a plan to avoid contact. Slow down when conditions are poor (ex. traveling on rough ground, going up or down a slope when towing or carrying heavy loads when entering public roadways, and when turning with a load in the bucket)
  • Only operate backhoes on grades specified by the manufacturer
  • Keep machinery at a safe distance from trenches and excavations
  • Operators should be trained in the proper use of the equipment they are assigned to operate
  • Identify and label all machine controls and ensure they are working correctly
  • Securely latch attachments, such as quick disconnect buckets, before work begins
  • Conduct visual and operational checks on all machine systems and operating controls before use including the hydraulics
  • Perform visual inspections of quick disconnect systems periodically, especially after changing attachments
  • Use the ROPS (rollover protection system) and wear a seatbelt
  • Do not exceed the maximum load limit when lifting materials
  • Make all workers on the site aware of the backhoe’s presence
  • Before stepping off for any reason, turn off the engine, lower the boom and put the bucket on the ground


This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for information purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. The information material does not amend the provisions of any insurance policy issued by CompSource Mutual. It is not a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy provisions, and any applicable law.

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