Knowing how to transport mini excavators correctly and safely is an essential skill for those who own and operate this piece of heavy equipment. Moving from one job site to the next will require that you understand how to safely execute this task. Furthermore, it is a legal obligation under various state and a national chain of responsibility legislation.

This legislation places the duty of care for safe and compliant transportation of equipment on everyone involved in the supply chain, and penalties can be severe for breaches such as overloading, non-compliant restraint and a host of other offences. Legal ramifications can be exacerbated should an improperly secured excavator cause an accident or injury.

This means that as the owner or operator of a compact excavator, you are legally obliged to know how to properly load, unload and secure your equipment on a trailer. But regardless of the legalities, you'll want to protect your machine and your safety as best you can anyway.

In this blog, we've written a guide to help you make sure your excavator transport is safe and legal every time.

Assess your load limitations

Before you even begin the loading process, you'll need to take the time to familiarise yourself with some key specifications of your equipment. These include:

  • Transport weight of your machine (this can be found in the operation and maintenance manual)
  • Trailer specifications and payload capacity
  • Tow capacity of your towing vehicle
  • Ensure that the trailer is in suitable operating condition by checking that the lights and indicators work correctly, tyres are in good condition and inflated correctly and there are no cracks or structural damage
  • Any relevant load limitations in the areas through which you'll be transporting the machine


It's time to ensure you're set to load and unload safely by following these basic steps:

  1. Check that your trailer is properly secured to the tow vehicle via the hitch and that the safety chains are connected—failure to secure properly may result in uncontrolled movement and/or roll over
  2. The transport vehicle and trailer need to be parked on flat and level ground
  3. Ensure the towing vehicle has the parking brake applied, the engine turned off and the trailer brake is on
  4. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, high visibility clothing, safety boots and gloves
  5. Conduct a risk assessment, establish exclusion zones and implement control measures as required
  6. Make sure your team has a designated spotter
  7. Refer to TranSafe WA for more details on loading and unloading

Loading your excavator

  1. Prepare for transport by making sure that the machine and trailer are clean, that there are no loose items and no signs of any leaks
  2. Attach the largest bucket to the hitch and stow the smaller buckets inside the larger one
  3. Load the excavator with the blade facing forwards along the centre line of the vehicle and trailer
  4. Position the excavator in compliance with the guidance provided in the operation and maintenance manual
  5. As a general rule, 5 – 10% of the weight of the laden trailer should be supported at the hitch. If carrying attachments or additional materials, a tow ball scale should be used to ensure the weight falls within the acceptable range 
  6. You'll need to make sure that if you're loading additional items, the trailer carrying capacity and vehicle tow capacity is not exceeded
  7. Lower the bucket onto the bucket rest during transport
  8. Make the size of the excavator as small as possible by:
    1. Retracting the boom cylinder
    2. Extending the stick cylinder
    3. Extending the bucket cylinder to firmly rest the bucket on the bucket rest
  9. Move the hydraulic lockout control to the LOCKED position to prevent frame articulation or slewing 
  10. Shut down the excavator and turn the battery isolator to OFF 
  11. Lift rear load ramps and ensure they are locked in position

Securing the machine

  1. Use a ratchet tie down with a load capacity suitable for your mini-excavator and with heavy-duty hooks compliant to AS/NZS 4380:2001
  2. Remove dust covers and screw the two eye bolts into the rear of the machine (refer to your operation and maintenance manual or contact Boya Equipment if you don't know where these are located)
  3. Check webbing and binder for wear and damage prior to use
  4. Place the rear straps in the positions as shown in the operation and maintenance manual, cross them over and ensure the trailer attachment points are as wide and as far back as possible
  5. Install the tie-down on the rear eye on the lower frame to prevent shifting during transit—ensure trailer attachment points are as wide and as far back as possible
  6. Place the front straps in the positions shown in the operation and maintenance manual, ensuring the trailer attachment points are as wide and as far forward as possible
  7. Place the strap over the buckets and restrain
  8. Tension all the webbing straps using inline ratchets to secure the machine
  9. Check and re-tension restraints within the first 25km and at regular intervals throughout the trip
  10. Check your operation and maintenance manual, and refer to any local regulations to ensure you're working safely

When transporting construction equipment, there is no room for error as it concerns the safety of yourself, your employees and other road users. This is just a general guide on how to transport mini excavators, so remember to always check your operation and maintenance manual and follow any local regulations. For further information on transporting your Kubota excavator, or other construction equipment, speak to one of our friendly staff.