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Safety First: Simple Tips for Optimal Machine Performance

By Mike Schmidt, Manager, Forestry Tactical Marketing, John Deere

A worker inspecting John Deere equipment

Without a doubt, safety inspections should be an essential part of every logging operation's upkeep routine. Not only are they necessary for the well being of your crew, they are also a crucial step to keep your machines operating efficiently and issue-free throughout a product's lifecycle. Whether you are a new logging professional just starting out, or an established logging operation with years of experience, safety is good for your business. Good safety practices save lives, reduce injuries and improve your bottom line.


The following tips will help ensure operator safety, prevent dangerous fires and keep your equipment working smoothly. Fortunately, these frequently overlooked practices are some of the easiest to perform, and typically don't require a mechanic or specialist. Many inspections can be conducted monthly, while a few may be needed more often depending on your individual operating conditions.


  • Gouges, cracks and deep scratches can compromise a window's integrity and increase the likelihood of breaking or shattering upon impact with branches or other objects. As a preventative measure, regularly check the polycarbonate windows of your machine's cab for effective protection and good visibility. Also, inspect screen guards over windows and cab openings to be sure they're secure and in good condition.
  • All polycarbonates are not the same – even on similar models from the same manufacturer – so be sure to reference your machine's manual to ensure you're using an approved cleaning solution that will not scratch or compromise the window's integrity.
  • Check the handholds around the cab and service areas to make sure they're secure. Similarly, check the steps on cabs and walkways – non-skid surfaces should be intact. If non-skid material is worn or missing, contact your dealer to repair or replace it.
  • Within the cab, inspect operator seat belts and safety harnesses, and as simple as it sounds, make sure operators are using them properly.
  • Fire extinguishers and water tanks are the first defense against fires, so they should be routinely inspected. Fire extinguishers need to be easy to find and readily accessible, in working order and up to date. Water tanks should also be inspected to be sure water levels and pressure is sufficient.
  • Belly pans, side shields and access guards are essential to the safety of a machine. They can also collect leaves and other debris that can be a fire hazard, especially if working in dry conditions or during the autumn. These components should be inspected at least monthly, more frequently if the conditions are right for fires.
  • Clean pans, shields and guards using compressed air or pressure washers on a regular basis. Clean, debris-free equipment increases your odds of finding small problems like minor fluid leaks before they become larger or a more costly repair.
  • Felling heads are prone to collecting sawdust and other debris. Excess debris can block or break fittings, force hydraulic hoses out of position and can cause unnecessary wear on parts. A simple step for both operators and maintenance crews is to be on constant alert and remove debris as soon as it begins to accumulate.


Playing it safe with regular inspections will go a long way toward optimized working conditions for your crew, increased productivity, reduced downtime and lower overall operating costs. When in doubt, check with your dealer for additional information on safety inspections to incorporate in your maintenance routine.