I plan to rent an excavator like this:

mini excavator

I am aware that it is quite dangerous if someone walks by and is hit by the bucket, but assuming I can clear the area of passers-by, what are some common dangers to be aware of that could cause harm to the driver? Can a mis-move of the levers cause the bucket to break through the cage?

  • 30
    Tip over or hitting power lines are the two cases. Should be stops to prevent bucket/boom from going back to far, unless something breaks. Need to check if any utilities are in the ground first. Most places have free check for utilities before digging.
    – crip659
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 18:16
  • 44
    Why not take a mini-excavator training course? Seems like a small investment for the safety of yourself and those around you.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 18:45
  • 9
    I'm not at all an "equipment operator" but have rented them several times. For a newbie, just take a slow and easy until you get familiar with the controls. Make sure your work area is clear. Not too much risk from the equipment itself, but like others have said, biggest risk of damage is hitting buried utilities. Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 18:49
  • 11
    The major risk is the lack of common sense...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 20:30
  • 8
    If using a spotter, make sure they are clear of where you CAN reach. It's very easy to crush a person. Rollover is probably the most common of the various "equiment-related" issues, and the "digging into things you should not" issues are mentioned below (beware that the utility marking services won't tell you about your house's private services, so destroying your own septic field or wire between house and garage is entirely on you knowing where it is, if you have one.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 23:30

8 Answers 8


OSHA has a search engine. Many accidents are not reported to OSHA, in particular, amateur/homeowner operators like you don't have a reporting chain to OSHA. But here are those OSHA knows about.

Obviously the vast majority involve the operator injuring others. I omitted them since you say you'll be a lone worker (which has its own set of risks...)

The following contains descriptions of serious injury and death. Reader discretion is advised

Stuff they brought down on their own heads

At 11:00 a.m. on May 5, 2020, an employee was operating an excavator (KOMATSU Model PC240LC, mid-size hydraulic excavator) to jackhammer the base of a concrete silo so that two coworkers operating undescribed heavy machinery with one inch cables attached to the silo to pull it down once freed from its base. As the employee was jackhammering the base, the silo collapsed and fell onto the employee's excavator. The employee received unspecified fatal injuries from the falling silo material and was killed.

At 3:30 p.m. on August 2, 2019, Employee #1 was clearing trees and brush from a lot, using an excavator. One of the trees fell on the cab of the excavator and killed Employee #1.

At 4:00 p.m. on August 7, 2018, an employee was installing steel shoring in an excavation. The excavator inadvertently released the steel shoring plate which fell onto the employee. The employee was hospitalized with multiple rib fractures and a wrist facture.

Hit power lines

At 4:30 p.m. on April 13, 2020, Employee #1, employed by a pumping company, was working at a construction site. He was operating an excavator to drill a point well. The excavator became energized by an overhead power line. Employee #1 sustained an electric shock. He was transported to the hospital, where he died.

By the way, the machine chassis has a fair chance of protecting you while you remain in the cab, because the whole metal machine will tend to be one voltage (whatever it is touching). There's no harm in being at one voltage, even if it is 21,000 volts. The dumbest thing you can do is try to climb out of the machine at that point, because you'll be touching a) the energized machine and b) earth. Either stay put and call 911, or if able, move the machine to disengage from the wires. But if the wire is downed, get hundreds of feet away from a downed wire before thinking of climbing down, as a voltage gradient can carry some distance. And always report the strike to the power company; the strike may have broken insulators or weakened a wire that will drop later.

Lost stability due to terrain

At 3:15 p.m. on February 15, 2019, an employee was moving a Takeuchi Model TB007 Mini Excavator Serial # 1074544 down a ramp to the basement of a building to be stored. The equipment rolled over down the hill several times landing on the employee at the bottom of the ramp resulting in fatal injuries and bleeding. The equipment was not provided with roll over protection.

Self-inflicted tipping/rollover not caused by terrain

It's perfectly possible to rollover an excavator on flat ground without digging any holes.

At 11:00 a.m. on September 10, 2018, an employee was operating an excavator to move tree brush from the bottom of a hill to the top. While moving the load of brush up the hill, the employee moved the boom which cause the excavator to roll over onto its left side. The employee, who was seat belted into the cab of the excavator, hit his head on the roll over protection system frame as the roll over occurred. The employee was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a head laceration.

Pinned by ones own machine (not due to tipping/rollover)

At 3:30 p.m. on May 26, 2020, an employee was operating an excavator. At some point, the employee stuck their head out of the excavator cab while the cab rotated in close proximity to a tree. The employee's head was caught between the cab and the tree and crushed. The employee was killed by traumatic head injury.

At 11:15 a.m. on February 25, 2019, Employee #1 was operating a John Deere 225d excavator. The employee attempted to adjust the mirror on the excavator so that he could continue backing out of building to clear the doorway. He pulled the shut off lever and leaned out of the cab to fix the mirror. When he reengaged the safety shut off lever, he was inadvertently leaning against the joystick that rotates the cab. The employee was struck by and caught in between the excavator cab and the building's door opening. The employee used the joystick to rotate the cab back to the right, and freed himself. Employee #1 sustained three fractured vertebra and a broken collarbone. He was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital and remained hospitalized for treatment.

Loading and unloading the excavator off the trailer

Needless to say, several accidents involved the operator trying to load or unload the excavator from the delivery trailer for highway transport. Honestly, I forgot them because I was in the mentality of searching for accidents where the operator is in the cab. But yeah, during load/unload, a lone worker can fall, get pinched e.g. have the unit shift on them, rollover while loading, or be tempted into "hold my beer" tricks of radical self-loading.

backloader lifting itself onto a railroad car
source: Youtube video

"What could possibly go wrong?"

(full disclosure, that last is actually a patented, engineered kit. The excavator has guide wings welded to frame and bucket. Once up top, it can move down the entire train of same-height cars, by expanding or contracting like a ... um... caterpillar.)

  • 7
    Last one probably could be nominated for a Darwin Award.
    – crip659
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 21:43
  • 4
    @DMoore I saw one report where someone got injured while tying down the excavator. Tie it up the wrong way, start cranking the cinch down and the whole thing could move on you, etc. Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 0:19
  • 8
    "The excavator became energized by an overhead power line." - every one forgets about the obvious when they're thinking too hard about the oblivious.
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 2:35
  • 7
    Relative to the human body (even the skull), an excavator is like you stepping on a ripe grape. People just need to respect heavy machinery more. Heck, even power tools will readily kill you if you're stupid.
    – Nelson
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 2:36
  • 2
    I'm pretty sure Mysthbusters has done the "self loading" one... Successfully, I might add. It's still very much a "don't try this at home" trick.
    – Matthew
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 14:10

Hitting buried pipes and cables: gas, water, sewer, electric power, communications (telephone, TV, fiber), and oil. For oil and gas lines, third party damage (eg. backhoe) is the second most common cause of leaks after pinhole corrosion leaks. Transmission lines are rare in a subdivision but there are some old ones. Also, watch out above for power lines as well, and don't tip the thing over.

As to finding those buried hazards the easy way, 811 will get you the locations of lines owned by utility companies, through what's called a mark out process. In North America, the marks (spray-painted symbols or flags) are color-coded as follows:

APWA color code: * RED -- electric * ORANGE -- comms * YELLOW -- gas/oil/petroleum * GREEN -- sewer/drainage * BLUE -- drinking water * PURPLE -- reclaimed/irrigation water * PINK -- temporary markings * WHITE -- your proposed excavation

Note, though, that this service only covers utility lines: private service laterals, feeds to outbuildings, and such are your responsibility to avoid

  • 1
    Make sure your insurance or a supplemental covers this type of damage; it's going to be VERY expensive if you're held liable.
    – dandavis
    Commented Feb 8, 2021 at 21:15
  • 2
    watch out above - everything else is pretty obvious. At least it'd better be. Other than driving off a cliff that's about the worst thing that can happen. Unless you're a trucker or a crane operator, you've probably never had to deal with a machine that had a required height clearance....
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 2:51


This question is far too broad to be practically answered in detail. If you were asking about specific dangers, that would be appropriate for this forum in my read of the question requirements, but you are asking something that invites opinion and cannot reasonably be responded to comprehensively because you haven't given us any details about the specific hazards you will encounter. Answering your question comprehensively would require a complete index of every possible hazard in every possible work environment. For this reason, my experience strongly indicates that you don't know enough about safely Operating the question you have plans to rent to even know if it's the best idea for achieving your project goal. Dangers aside, whatever it is you're digging, you may not even be aware that you might make more work and cost your self more by attempting to DIY than hiring a professional. Additionally, since you haven't asked about specific dangers, and since this strongly indicates you have done no research into training material for operating such machinery, I can't reasonably assume that you actually have the competency to build a proper jobsite barrier or to work around utilities or structures that might hurt someone beyond any barrier you do errect. Anyone encouraging you to proceed with your plan to operate this piece of machinery without adequate training to indicate a level of knowledge to safely operate such machinery would be, in many contexts, indirectly complicit in causing any incidents you may directly bring about. Knowing the dangers is not the same as knowing how to avoid them, and it is not enough to safely operate the machine.

A previous version of this answer suggested you should not operate such machinery as you indicated planning to rent, and cautioned that if you have to ask such a broad and basic question, you should strongly consider getting formal training first as this lack of basic understanding of the fundamentals of responsible Operating implies you are truly ignorant to these dangers, especially as you have not indicated this is a question for academic purposes. If you asked me personally, face to face, for my honest opinion, that is what I would tell you. Here, on this free-use forum with it's own culture and expectations, I won't speak from the heart, and instead here is some more generic advice... The greatest danger to the operator and any other person or thing is inexperienced Operators and the human error that results from inexperienced operating.

I won't outright tell you not to rent this and to hire a professional, but I will say that an open-ended question on a subject that has ample information in great depth directly answering this question available to you for free online really strongly indicates you have not researched the topic to the fullest extent a responsible operator might expect would be appropriate before even beginning to plan to rent and operate a piece of such equipment.

I will also tell you that if you have to ask such an open-ended question, and since this has been up for some time and you have not made it more specific despite the breadth of answers, you are strongly indicating that your lack of knowledge is the greatest risk to the driver, as well as everyone one and thing that could get near you - as such, I would strongly propose you suggest to yourself, 'if I have to ask such an open ended and naive question, not for academic purposes, I should strongly consider the fact that their is no reasonable and safe reason to proceed with my plans to operate this piece of machinery until I have training or a depth of knowledge that permits me to understand the basis of safe Operating."

When beginning to attempt to operate Heavy Machinery (even when they are referred to as "mini" or "light" models) it is best to keep the mantra "Crawl, Walk, Run" in mind, especially for inexperienced Operators who are concerned with dangers to their-selves as Operator and looking to prepare their-selves to rent the equipment. Asking "What are the dangers of operating a mini excavator?" is practically saying "I plan to rent an airplane, what are the dangers of flying one."

Since it is reasonable to assume you are an adult, and since in general on Stack Exchange if we don't see a nationality clarifying your citizenship, we assume you are a citizen of the USA, there is a strong cultural tendency to hold the sentiment "Nobody can tell you what to do! It's your god given right!" close to your heart. Other's will tell you, people do rent these all the time and it turns out to be a great time, but you are asking what the dangers are and the primary danger is proceeding with a plan to rent and operate one of these without training or understanding even the basic capabilities of the machinery, despite the fact that there are typically no laws against it in the USA.(I do suggest you check your jurisdiction for city ordinances and codes that may require licensed operators, but ususlaly this is not the case). For example:

Can a mis-move of the levers cause the bucket to break through the cage?

No, and that is a fundamental design regulation of the equipment you are planning to operate.

Nevertheless, if you do decide to proceed with your plan instead of hiring a pro, here is some reference material: here is the spec and Operator's Manual for a mid-size excavator (the big sister to the class you're proposing to rent). The operator's manual is old, but still the basic point of the rest of my post is the 1-2-1 "Operate Only If Qualified" clause. These manuals and the hazards they outline are 'must know model-specific material' per manufacturer's requirements for anyone operating heavy machinery (although federal regulations only allow enforcement of that requirement to employees; you're local or state jurisdiction may be subject to broader restrictions). Within this context, the manufacturer requires that you read the Operators manual (such as linked to above) prior to operating the machine, even if you are a "certified" operator - the regulations are, you still have to read it and know the information within prior to operating the machine. (Whether that is broadly and consistently enforced or even practical to broadly and consistently enforce is another topic). This is to say, failing to read and comprehend the entirety of the Operator's Manual that remains in the cab of whatever unit they drop off for you (regulations require that their must be an Operator's Manual in good readable condition), is the first and principle danger you will have a chance to avoid before you even put your key in the ignition.

Next, as you will see recommended by machinery manufacturers in the Operator's Manual, and as the Federal standard for Earthmoving machinery will require of those Operating such machinery during the course of their employed daily activities (but to which you as a private citizen not Operating this Machinery for any business purpose), you are told you must be trained by a competent trainer - remember, as a private citizen, their is no means to enforce this Manufacturer's requirement except where your local jurisdiction is subject to such regulations having ammended Federal requirements. If you choose to pursue training, 'adequate training' (as far as the requirements for meeting Federal regulations goes, which is a helpful benchmark for bare-minimum definition of competency for Operating Earthmoving equipment) would be achieved by either of the following: either by a competent, qualified, experienced trainer you're friends with, or by a professional trainer (by searching online for local equipment training facilities, or finding one through the recommendation of a local equipment rental company). It's worth the money if you have no experience with equipment like this, as it could save your life, or at the least it is insurance you won't destroy your driveway or similar incidences as you try to get the equipment to the area of work. Here is an example of the subject matter training material your course would cover, tailored specifically for the type of equipment you would be getting certified to operate.

Please keep in mind: As others will also tell you, your rental agency is insured against you or a damaged party suing them for their equipment's involvement in an unsafe incident. That shouldn't be encouraging. Their insurance doesn't cover you, and generally you should expect to be agreeing to indemnify the rental company for any damages to equipment or otherwise upon accepting receipt of the equipment. It's like renting a car. If you drive inebriated in a rental car, you still go to jail. With the rental car, you have to have liability insurance. For the equipment, if you don't have an individual umbrella policy, homeowners or rental policy that covers the types of incidents you might cause, it's all on you baby.

I think it's fair to assume you have no experience with heavy equipment. I would like to share some of my experience, but I want to talk to you about understanding the whole environment you'll be operating the equipment in, not just the hazards to you as the equipment operator because the chance of you getting hurt is far less than the chance of someone else getting hurt from something you've done with the equipment.

I am truly not trying to insult you. I am going to try and give you some perspective on just how deeply out of your depth you sound like you might be. I get it, you are an adult, and this could be a fun experience where no one got hurt, but you could also kill someone. Since I have no idea whether you are on a farm with no chance of someone random walking across your path, or if you are in a crowded neighborhood with a little old neighbor who might go searching frantically for her missing dog in the middle of the night and find herself at the bottom of a pit dug in your yard (real story, years of litigation), I'll assume the higher end of trouble just in case.

OSHA is bare minimum (see 1926.602 for reference). A number of people here have advised you to search through their tools and regulations. I have an OSHA 10 cert (twice), an OSHA 30, and over 80 hours of university level practical instruction on writing an employer safety manual for commercial construction, and two decades work experience. Many DIYers will disagree with me, but looking through OSHA should be the very lowest thing you look to if you want to learn how to safely and effectively operate equipment. OSHA does not prescribe how to operate safely, it is literally regulations describing activities you will be fined for. Looking to OSHA for learning how to safely operate heavy equipment is like memorizing speed limits of roads in your area. That's not going to make you a better, more defensive driver. I say this because it's extremely common to start reading through the OSHA website.

Similarly, ANSI Standards cover the benchmark for best practice. It is all still guidelines. It's not meant to tell you how to do it safely, it's meant to define 'safe operation' in detail in legally actionable terms. But, ANSI Standards would have you take an operator certification course - professionally taught, and licensed/accredited as competent and qualified instruction (usually that means that the manufacturer has trained and certified their trainers in the specific equipment they will train you on). I think you should get trained, but do you have to? I mean, if the company rents it to you, then no you don't have to, especially as a homeowner, but you should be aware that the issues aren't just the dangers of operating heavy machinery...

Please, before you put the key in the ignition, thoroughly and deeply understand the following:

You need to understand the hazards throughout your entire jobsite (your work area), including the dangers to the driver, if you truly want to work responsibly. For example, are you up to current best practice on protecting open excavations. At a much more basic level, do you know to locate utilities before you dig, and how far away you need to start digging with hand tools only? Are you aware of the personal/criminal negligence you are liable for in the event of harm even if you claim to not know you were doing something dangerous? Did you know in general throughout the USA, if someone sneaks into a jobsite even with all the barricades and safety precautions you think you have, if they hurt themselves you still can end up legally responsible? Tangentially related to operating the machine, and as much the responsibility of you as the operator as safe operation, are you sure you understand all the regulations that govern the work you are undertaking? Does your jurisdiction have temp erosion and sediment controls? You should look into the cost of how much you can get fined for violating runoff regulations. On a very basic level, do you know what kind of fuel your equipment takes? How about where to find the operators manual in the cab? In my opinion, you won't be competent to 'safely' operate an excavator until you know the answers to these questions.

What I'm saying is that there's a lot to worry about far beyond just "How tippy is this thing."

Now on the other end of things, heavy machinery are super fun to operate (until they become your job and then it's just a thing you do for work). They can also destroy anything you accidentally bump or run over in an instant, faster than you can react, including a life. Being hydraulic, they can also cause damage if parked improperly... and, fun fact, they will cause severe chemical burns if you get the hydraulic fluid on you!

Happy operating!

  • 3
    Absolutely this. 20 years ago we though nothing of renting a mini digger and landscaping our garden. We were lucky, it didn't roll on anyone or fall into its own hole. Last year we hired a guy with a digger: quicker, safer, cleaner and he had his own insurance.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 7:59
  • 2
    This. An internet Q&A site cannot possibly substitute for proper training. Even the best and most experienced person here cannot effectively teach excavator operation in a three paragraph answer. This is not the place to learn how to operate heavy equipment.
    – J...
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 14:24
  • 3
    Yes @J... and like RedSonja is saying, the propensity to get distracted by the notion that a tool can do something amazing (like boost productivity) or be super fun or both of these, people out of their depth don't know how out of their depth they are. For example, if you over excavate, you don't just have to put the dirt back, you have to put orders of magnitude more dirt back and you have to get equipment to compact, OP likely doesn't know what proper compaction for bearing is, how to measure it, the steps or the cost to achieving it... the potential for cascading failure is immense. Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 15:42
  • 8
    Not a down-voter, but this is a bit doom-and-gloom for someone that just wants to rent a small excavator for a job around the house. Safety and technical training are important on the job because you are being forced to use the machine, and use it somewhat quickly or you lose your job. For a home-gamer, you can just take it slow, and if it feels like you can't handle it, call in a pro. So, I think this is good advice... for a pro that is going to be using the machine day in, day out in unknown environments, but its a bit much for a renter working at home.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 18:06
  • 6
    Agreed with @JPhi1618 that this answer is a bit doom-and-gloom. Tons of small rental shops rent out mini excavators every day throughout the US, and plenty are used by people with little to no training without issue. If everyone operating one needed hours and hours of training, rental shops would have a hard time renting them, and they would be uninsurable to do so. Yes, they can be dangerous, but going slow and thinking things through will suffice for most DIYers. Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 20:43

Blacksmith37 has a great answer.

I would add as I could run a blooper reel with things I have seen from excavators and bobcats... Just one piece of advice. Do not dig outside a large hole. For instance if you are doing a pool, dig from within and build yourself a nice ramp at a gentle angle out.

It is easy to get 6-8 feet down and everything is fun and games and going smooth, bucket catches a rock and you go rocking. I mean I can't tell you how many times we had to "help" an excavator out of something. Maybe it was the quality of crews and money (lack of) I used to spend on these things but I have to feel that a new operator would have same issues.

  • 4
    A new operator would be worse because they have zero experience. Heavy equipment operators can read the ground and have an intuitive understanding of how the soil and earth are reacting to the dig. They can feel when they're pushing too far for the conditions and adjust accordingly. A noob would much more readily dig themselves into a catastrophe because they wouldn't recognize the problem forming around them before it was too late.
    – J...
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 14:27
  • 1
    @J... - The hard part is its an excavator but it doesn't have the anchor qualities of a regular excavator. You can lean forward quite a bit - especially with anchor arms - in a commercial excavator... these small models tip so easy it isn't funny. I always tell my guy dig from within once you get 4' down. I know there are cases where you can't... but then we rope off area and hire someone with experience.
    – DMoore
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 20:16
  • Indeed. Anything without stabilizer legs is just an accident waiting to happen, I agree. Way too easy to overextend yourself, and definitely not friendly to a novice.
    – J...
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 20:33

Something touched on by the other posts is tipping. If you'll note, the excavator you intend to rent has treads that are no wider than the cab. There's two reasons for this

  1. Weight. You want this thing to be light enough to fit on a double-axle trailer and be towed by a decently powered truck or van. This is weekend-warrior stuff and a lot of rental places will happily load one onto a trailer for you and send you on your merry way
  2. Size. It needs to fit on said standard trailer without sticking out (street legal reasons)

The catch there is it makes the cab really REALLY prone to tipping because you have nothing to offset the weight and the treads are close to the center of gravity.

We do live in the age of YouTube, however, and there's a ton of good videos on how to drive and use one safely, but this video in particular goes over a number of mistakes new operators make. I'd make it a point to watch them, as you can glean a LOT of free advice from pros by watching.

  • 4
    While on the Tube of You, go search out "stupid excavator tricks" (or something like that) to see all the things you shouldn't be doing. You can learn a lot from other's mistakes, too.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 13:04
  • 3
    @FreeMan The video I linked to is just that. It's not "laugh while you watch this guy tip his excavator into a hole", it's a pro showing how easy they are to tip and then explaining how to avoid tipping.
    – Machavity
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 13:06
  • 1
    Gotcha. I didn't actually watch it. I've seen more than enough YT videos linked on Facebook to know there are a million and one out there.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 13:13
  • 2
    A lot of mini-diggers these days have wind-out treads, giving stability whilst working and also easier to get through narrow gaps and load on a trailer. Of course they're still prone to tip because they've not got a big footprint or much mass to hold them down, but it's a good start. On the downside though, I've seen people forget to wind the treads out and wonder why they're a bit unstable facepalm.
    – Graham
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 13:45

Here's one to add the endless list of what could go wrong. I rented a digger almost exactly like the one you show in order to dig some trenches for drainage in my garden. I had no training whatsoever.

I had the door open, I don't recall but I suppose there must be some kind of clip to hold the door in the open position.

I was driving the digger forwards down a steep incline. The digger was angled so far forwards that I put my left hand on the door frame to hold myself back in the seat. The door came swinging round and hit my fingers. To this day I'm amazed that I suffered nothing worse than some badly bruised fingers. They could (should) easily have been crushed.


This is more of a danger to your property than to you, but be aware of how much that thing weighs. It's not uncommon for that to be the heaviest thing that's ever rolled/driven across that specific piece of land. The mass is spread out over two wide treads, but it can still be enough weight to crack a thin concrete slab (sidewalk or driveway) or crush irrigation lines (some are only buried a few inches below the surface). I've heard tales of operators unknowingly cracking sprinkler lines, only to have them leak and fill up their hole with water as they were digging it.

Along the same lines, you'll only be as stable as the ground that you're operating on. Ground that feels firm under your feet can move around a bit when you're in a vehicle that weighs over a ton. If your soil isn't dry and well-compacted, make sure that you aren't going to sink into the ground when you load up the bucket. If the heavy side sinks into the ground and the other doesn't, you'll increase the chances of tipping over. The mini excavators don't always have the stabilizer legs that the larger ones have.


I'll add one more, having spent 6 months with a small and medium digger.

In mud or poor surface, a smaller digger is more than capable of being pulled by an object instead of pulling/lifting the object. If you dig in a muddy claylike area, and drag the bucket up or towards you, the digger itself can move, bed in, or tilt instead. Like, into a trench you're doing to the side.

If you use a light digger, you may need to secure it against lateral movement (I found that a piece of heavy timber braced against hammered-in stakes was useful, laid alongside the tracks, so it couldn't move sideways in very sticky mud. Worked well). You may also want to lay something on the surface to give the treads, better traction, if the ground is loose or muddy.

Also, use lowering the front blade to slightly dig in and anchor/brace yourself if needed. That can help in soft ground.

  • Sounds like the "key takeaway" is "dig from the front, not from the side". Pivot to the side only for dumping the bucket.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 12:56
  • It's certainly going to be more stable that way, because of the longer front-back track base, blade capability, and centre of mass further behind the bucket mounting, compared to sideways use. Whether that's always practical is uncertain.
    – Stilez
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 16:33
  • 3
    This is some terrible advice in the context of avoiding dangers. You're essentially saying the lesson learned isn't to prepare a safe and stable base, which you can easily do with quarry spalls and eliminating drainage problems, it is to compound an unstable working surface by allowing yourself to increase the force acting to destabilize your machinery. In other terms, what you're saying is exactly the same as "Is your ladder too short? What I do is lash it to a second ladder or put it on a forklift and lift it up." Actually, forget I said anything - doom and gloom, total downer. Party on. Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 17:42

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