Tips for Safe Digging & Lifting With Rental Excavators

With landscaping season in full swing, you may be thinking about a Bobcat rental to do some work on your company land. If you're renting a machine, it's important to understand how to operate it safely. If you're not a trained, licensed excavator operator, there are some things you need to be attentive to. Perhaps the most important thing to think about is the lift limitations of the machine you rent. Here's a look at what you need to know about lifting safely with your rented excavator.

What Factors Affect Lift Capacity?

There are several things that contribute to the weight capacity of a mini excavator, including the hydraulic capacity and the tipping capacity. The hydraulic capacity is the weight point at which the excavator will lose hydraulic power. This results in a stalled excavator. The tipping capacity is the weight point at which the excavator will tip, putting you at risk of rolling or tipping completely over.

How Do You Know Your Machine's Limitations?

Every mini excavator manufacturer tests their equipment thoroughly to determine how much weight the machine can lift at different heights and structures. Based on the outcome of these assessments, the manufacturer sets specific weight limitations. The chart that details these limitations can be found in the operator's manual for the equipment. There are usually stickers inside the operator's cab with the limits printed on them, too.

How Do You Read the Charts?

Lift charts are vital to your safety when you're operating a mini excavator. The top of the chart should detail the machine's configuration details. This should include the arm length, boom length, and the weight of both the bucket and the coupler. The lift capacity posted on the chart assume that you're using the excavator on a flat surface and include calculations based on the lift point and the lifting radius.

The lift point height listed on the sticker refers to the distance from the ground to the pivot pin of the bucket. You'll need to be sure that you're not lifting any loads beyond the lift point restriction. Consider where the machine will be and where you're placing each load. If you need to lift it beyond the top of a construction truck, for example, you'll have to be sure that the truck is parked so that the lift point doesn't exceed the limitation on the sticker.

Before you put any weight on the excavator, make sure you consider the lift radius carefully. Cycle the empty bucket through a rotation as though you're dumping a load. Look at where the arm is going, and consider the radius of the swing point carefully. There's a distance rating on the sticker that illustrates the maximum swing point. Make sure you're not having to go over the side of the excavator to dump a load, because that could exceed the swing radius.

Then, think about how to give the excavator the most stability, whether it means carrying the load to the dump point from a low position for balance or from a higher point for more leverage. You can determine this based on the radius that the arm will have to move from the loading point to the dump location.

Where the lift point height and radius intersect on the chart, there should be a number. That number details the lift capacity for the excavator. Make sure you're not lifting anything beyond that weight limit when you use your rental excavator, otherwise you may put your safety and that of your workers at risk. The fundamental assumption is that as your lifting radius increases, the weight capacity will decline. If you're traveling a far distance to drop the load, you'll have to limit how much weight you're carrying.