Mini Excavator Safe Load and Secure

How to load and secure your Cat Mini Excavator for transport

Knowing how to correctly load and secure your mini excavator is not just a useful skill, but a legal obligation under various state and national chain of responsibility legislation.

Essentially, the legislation places the duty of care for safe and compliant transportation of equipment on everyone involved in the supply chain and penalties can be severe for breaches such as overloading, non-compliant restraint and a host of other offences.

That means as the owner or operator of a Cat Mini Excavator, you are legally obliged to know how to load, unload and secure your equipment on a trailer. And legalities aside, you no doubt want to protect your machine and your safety as best you can.

See the tips below to get it right and check out the video for a quick demonstration on loading and securing Mini Excavators under 2 tonne:

Know your load limitations

Know your load limitations

Before you even commence the loading process, take time to familiarise yourself with key specifications of your equipment.
This includes:

  • Transport weight of your machine (found in the Operation and Maintenance Manual)
  • Trailer specifications and payload capacity
  • Tow capacity of your towing vehicle
  • Check that the trailer is in correct operating conditions such as lights and indicators work correctly, tyres are in good condition and inflated correctly and there are no cracks or structural damage
  • Any relevant load limitations in the areas where you will be towing the machine

Preparation is key

Next, ensure you are all set to load and unload safely by following these steps:

  • Ensure your trailer is properly secured to the tow vehicle via the hitch and that the safety chains are connected
  • Park the transport vehicle and trailer on flat and level ground
  • Ensure the vehicle has the park brake applied, engine turned off and that the trailer brake is on
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment such safety glasses, hi-vis day / night clothing, safety boots and gloves
  • Conduct a risk assessment, establish exclusion zones and implement control measures as appropriate
  • Make sure you have a designated spotter
  • Refer to SafeWork NSW Safety in the Road Freight Transport Industry or TranSafe WA for more details on loading or unloading

Loading your machine

  • Prepare for transport  -  make sure the machine and trailer are clean, there are no loose items and no signs of leaking
  • Attach the largest bucket to the hitch and stow the smaller buckets inside the larger one
  • Load the excavator with the blade facing forwards along the centre line of the vehicle
  • Position the excavator in compliance with the guidance provided in the Operation and Maintenance Manual
  • As a rule, 5-10% of the weight of the laden trailer should be supported at the hitch. If carrying attachments or additional materials, a tow ball scale should be used to ensure the weight falls within the appropriate range 
  • It's your responsibility to ensure if loading additional items that the trailer carrying capacity and vehicle tow capacity are not exceeded

WARNING: Ensure the trailer is correctly hitched to the tow vehicle prior to loading or unloading - failure to do so may result in uncontrolled movement and/or roll over. Use a jockey wheel to place tow ball scale under the hitch of the laden trailer

  • Lower the bucket on to the bucket rest during transport
  • Make the size of the excavator as small as possible by:
    • Retracting the boom cylinder
    • Extending the stick cylinder
    • Extending the bucket cylinder to firmly rest the bucket on the bucket rest
  • Move the hydraulic lockout control to the LOCKED position to prevent frame articulation or slewing 
  • Shut down the excavator and turn the battery isolator to OFF 
  • Lift rear load ramps and ensure they are locked in position

Securing your machine

  • Use a Ratchet Tie Down with a load capacity suitable for your Mini Excavator and with Heavy Duty Hooks compliant to AS/NZS 4380:2001
  • Remove dust covers and screw the two eye bolts into the rear of the machine (refer to your Operation and Maintenance Manual or contact your local WesTrac branch if you don't know where these are located)
  • Check webbing and binder for wear and damage prior to use
  • Place the rear straps in the positions as shown in the Operation and Maintenance Manual, cross them over and ensure trailer attachment points are as wide and as far back as possible
  • Install the tie-down on the rear eye on the lower frame to prevent shifting in transit - ensure trailer attachment points are as wide and as far back as possible
  • Place the front straps in the positions shown in the Operation and Maintenance Manual, ensuring trailer attachment points are as wide and as far forward as possible
  • Place strap over the buckets and restrain
  • Tension all the webbing straps using inline ratchets to restrain the machine
  • Check and re-tension restraints within the first 25km and at regular intervals throughout the trip

As always, check your Operation and Maintenance Manual and refer to any local regulations to ensure you're working safely and that you're in good shape to do it all again tomorrow.

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