Do I/My Employees Need a Certification to Operate a Skid Steer?

The short answer: Yes! You and any other employees using a skid steer need to be certified to operate a skid steer. Read on to learn WHY you need to be certified.

First off, what is a skid steer?

A skid steer is most often called a Bobcat, but a Bobcat is a brand of skid steer. It's like calling a tissue a Kleenex or a bandage a Band Aid. Bobcat (Melroe) was one of the first inventors of the skid steer and still to this day is one of the largest manufacturers of skid steers. So why is it called a skid steer? Simply put, the skid steer has to "skid" in order for it to turn. Some newer models however, do offer a 4-wheel steer option, which can be great for sensitive jobs where ground distress needs to be minimal.

Skid Steer Loader

The skid steer has been around since 1960 and can be found now on most construction sites. They are an extremely versatile machine that can take the place of other pieces of equipment when space may be limited. The bucket is not the only attachment the skid steer has. There are so many attachments out there, it would be almost impossible to name them all. Some examples include: forks, brushes, drum packers, and augers.

Why is certification required for skid steer operation?

The skid steer falls under Powered Mobile Equipment Regulations - Section 16 for British Columbia and Section 19 for Alberta. The definition for "powered mobile equipment" as outlined by WorkSafe BC is a wheeled or tracked vehicle which is engine powered, together with attached or towed equipment, but not a vehicle operated on fixed rails or tracks.

Operators of powered mobile equipment are required to be competent and authorized before operating. WorkSafe BC outlines competency as:

a) has received adequate instruction in the safe use of the equipment.

b) has demonstrated to a qualified supervisor or instructor competency in operating the equipment.

c) if operating equipment with air brakes, has a valid air brake certificate or driver's license with an air brake endorsement, or evidence of successful completion of a course of instruction on air brake systems by an organization acceptable to the Board.

d) is familiar with the operation instruction for the equipment.

a) and c) do not apply if a trainee operates the equipment under the supervision of a qualified instructor or supervisor.

I've been operating for many years, am I not grandfathered in?

Simply put, no. there is no grandfather rule that applies to skid steer certification. With the skid steer falling under Mobile Equipment Section 16 in British Columbia and Section 19 in Alberta, it would require operators to be recertified every three years. Think about it, how could you prove you've operated a skid steer years prior to an OHS officer if they come onto site, or if you have an accident and an investigation is required? Also, has the operation over the past 20 years been done according to OHS and CSA standards? In the end, if a safety audit or investigation was conducted on the work site you or the employee may be working on, it would be in the best interest of the operator and company owner to have proper certification in place.

What makes up a professional skid steer operator?

  • Responsible and on-time
  • Rested, alert, and physically prepared
  • Knowledgeable about company and site rules
  • Wears personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Uses safety equipment and operates in a safe manner (i.e. seatbelt)
  • Has a desire to learn
  • Skilled and works to improve skills
  • Keeps machine under complete control at all times
  • Knows 2-3 steps ahead
  • is certified

Want to learn more about becoming certified on a skid steer? Call or email our training department to learn how you can become certified.