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Next Certificate Program Start: 06/03/2024  |  Next Associate Degree Program Start: 07/08/2024



Backhoe Safety Tips

Things To Consider

Before operating a backhoe—or any other heavy equipment machine—one should always know how to operate it safely. While something bad can happen at any time, proper training prevents injuries and saves the lives of construction site workers.

Table of Contents

The Construction Industry

The construction industry comprises three categories: buildings, infrastructure (roads, highways, bridges, etc.), and speciality trades. This industry saw a 5.83% employment growth rate between 2018 and 2019, according to the American Community Survey (ACS). The average employee age is 41 years old, and the average salary for construction workers is $54,951.

4 Main Backhoe Parts

  1. Front loader: Hence the name, the front loader is located at the front of the machine and includes a bucket for scooping and transporting materials.
  2. Tractor: The tractor is the vehicle portion of the machine. It houses the cab, operator controls, accelerator, brake pedal, and steering wheel.
  3. Stabilizer Legs: The stabilizers are located behind the rear wheels of the backhoe. When engaged, they raise the front and back wheel slightly off the ground to reduce weight and prevent the machine from tipping over.
  4. Backhoe: Serving as the machine’s namesake, the backhoe, also known as the excavating arm is located at the rear of the machine. It is mounted to the tractor and consists of the boom, stick, and bucket.
Backhoe: Parts and Functions
When construction crews need to accomplish landscaping tasks such as clearing trees, creating small ponds, or moving topsoil, they use a backhoe loader.
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Backhoe Training
This backhoe training guide will help you understand how to operate a backhoe like a professional without the need for advanced licensing or training.
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How to Operate a Backhoe
A backhoe loader is a multi-purpose piece of construction equipment, most commonly used for excavations, that is known as a “backhoe” among contractors.
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5 Steps for Backhoe Operation

  1. Modify Settings: Move the seat forward or backward to ensure optimal control reach. Adjust the angles of the gas pedal, brake pedal, and steering wheel. Know what each control is and how to use it.
  2. Test Attachments: Start the engine and test the backhoe, front loader, and stabilizer legs to ensure proper function.
  3. Begin Operation: Put all attachments in lock mode and begin driving.
  4. Use Stabilizer Legs: After reaching your desired location, park the backhoe and initiate the stabilizer legs. Depending on the desired task, the backhoe and front loader attachments as needed.
  5. Finish: Raise and lock all attachments before moving to another location. Put the machine in park, turn off the engine, and lock the door.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that transportation incidents were the #1 cause of construction site fatalities from 2015-2019. With hands-on training and adherence to safety precautions, injuries and fatalities are preventable. These backhoe safety tips will equip you to protect yourself and others:

  1. Make a Plan: The first step to following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) backhoe safety standards is to review the safety manual. Familiarize yourself with the controls and attachments, and inspect the machine to ensure nothing is malfunctioning. Another important step to know how to operate a backhoe is to practice using one beforehand. Turn on the parking brake before starting the engine, use your seatbelt, know the bucket’s weight limit, and only have one person in the cab.
  2. Take a Pause: Mistakes happen when things are rushed—especially when heavy equipment is involved. When operating a backhoe, it’s important to slow down when the ground is uneven or you’re carrying particularly heavy loads. The safest way to manuever a backhoe on a slope is to back up rather than drive forward. Since backhoes are heavy and unstable, following proper safety procedures is essential.
  3. Examine Your Surroundings: Before moving the backhoe, always scan your surroundings to make sure no workers are in the way. If they are, use the backup alarm to warn them that you’re about to move. Steer clear of hazards such as ditches, debris, utility lines, and power cables.
  4. Initiate Attachments: Stabilizer legs should be used when operating the excavating arm (backhoe). They even out the weight of the backhoe and prevent it from tipping. If soil is so soft that the stabilizers might sink into the ground, place a sturdy platform under the stabilizers for further support. Keep the bucket lowered to allow for an optimal view through the front windshield. The bucket should be raised only when scooping up or dropping off materials. Lastly, the boom’s swing lock should be engaged when transporting materials.
  5. Shut It Down: After each use, lower and lock the bucket, turn the vehicle to neutral gear, set the parking brake, turn off the engine and move the control levers to relieve hydraulic pressure. Park the backhoe on a level surface, and lock the door until its next use.

HEC Programs

HEC’s accelerated programs allow students to gain hands-on experience operating heavy equipment, such as backhoe training. Our career services help students obtain job placements quickly, and our locations near you make the process convenient. Start your career as a heavy equipment operator at HEC.


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