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The case for single boom skid steer loaders

Single-boom skid-steer loaders with side entry are safer and more productive than double-boom models, writes JCB CEA national skid steer product manager PHIL WITHELL.

We all hear of people getting injured on skid steers and some of us have witnessed these injuries first-hand. Just last month I heard about an incident in Queensland where an operator was fatally crushed between the bucket and the skid steer body.

It’s easy to think those terrible accidents only happen to other people, but the reality is that operating a front-entry skid steer can be quite dangerous, especially in wet environments.

A single boom machine can deliver the strength, durability and productivity of a double arm model with the added safety benefit of having a side-door configuration.


Safety first

You’ve probably seen at least one safety bulletin warning of the danger of traditionally designed skid steer loaders. Thankfully, the industry is starting to move away from front entry points that can require operators to climb over attachments or step under a boom.

The side-door design also allows the operator to sit comfortably instead of having to rotate and twist upon entry, while the single boom design increases visibility by up to 60 percent. Visibility is a key aspect of safety, both for the operator and for people working around the machine.

Even the emergency exit points of a single boom skid steer are safer. They’re more easily accessible and much larger than in their double arm counterparts, as operators can exit through the large front window as opposed to the smaller back window.


Other benefits


Some operators worry that a single-boom design can’t possibly be as strong as a two-arm design. In reality, JCB’s single-boom machine has up to 20 percent more weight than the conventional machine, which significantly enhances its strength.

In addition, entering and egressing through the left door is easier and safer in a single-boom machine than the two-arm configuration. The downstream advantage is more productivity and higher comfort levels, which is healthier for our operators.

Reduced cycle time

When moving loads, there are inherently more hazards with a double arm. If you want to enter or exit a double-arm skid steer, you may sometimes have to either lift the boom in the air and walk under the arm, or drop the load to exit the machine. When you’re on a site that requires going in and out of gates, this process significantly slows down work.

Operator comfort

A comfortable operator is a productive operator. Entering a skid steer from the side requires far less energy than entering from the front, which in turn affects operator productivity and efficiency. When operators are in the cab for the first time, they quickly notice the larger work environment and exponentially better visibility.

JCB adapted its skid-steer technology from its telehandler range to develop the single-arm boom. The PowerBoom is available in both radial and vertical lift configurations. For more information contact Phil Withell at or visit

Click here to find skid steer loaders for sale.


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