Falling booms are the No. 1 killer in skid steer loader accidents, according to Gregg Zupancic, product marketing manager for John Deere. Zupancic made this assertion as he was showing us an innovative safety feature on Deere’s E Series skid steer and compact track loaders.
The E Series has an in-cab boom lock. Located behind and above the right shoulder of the operator, the red lever deploys a steel cylinder outward, much like a deadbolt. The operator lifts the boom, extends the cylinder, and gently rests the boom upon the steel rod.
Zupancic told us that the boom lock was added to make the loaders safer in situations where the boom is raised. He said although manufacturers direct operators to call for assistance to engage typical boom locks that actuate from outside the cab, this rarely happens. Operators exit the cab while the boom is up, and then engage the safety lock.
Later that day, I operated the loaders myself. The lever is indeed conveniently located, and it works just like a deadlbolt: Turn it, and it sets in place. The trick, which would come with experience I’m sure, is to lift the boom just above the spot where the boom-lock cylinder exits the loader frame. I lifted the boom too high, so bringing it down to rest on the cylinder took some time. I didn’t want to slam the boom down, so I slowly lowered it until it rested on the cylinder.
Lift the boom, slide the cylinder back in, and I was ready to put the machine to work. It’s too bad I can’t load and carry as well as I can lock the boom cylinder.