How to Operate Dozers in Steep Terrain

Written by jennifer williams Google
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How to Operate Dozers in Steep Terrain
Dozer on a hill (the tractor image by Ivan Hafizov from

Operating dozers in steep terrain requires special attention and terrain-specific technique because several dangers are presented by moving heavy machinery over an incline. Improper dozer operation on inclines causes extra unnecessary erosion and waste of both top and subsurface soil, and it can also cause rock, land and mud slides--increasing the danger of slippage and tipping of the equipment as well as a destruction of any work already completed by the machinery. Many projects require operation of dozers on steep inclines, including road building and construction site excavation, land clearing, and site inspections and surveys. In all of these situations, the specific slope must be assessed for current environmental conditions and risks, and those results need to be taken into consideration for maximum safety and effectiveness of dozer operation.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Choose the right time to operate the dozer on steep terrain by assessing the weather, presence of standing water and the visibility across the site. Wait to begin dozer operations if any of these factors are less than optimal. Consider also the length of time needed for the dozer to finish its task and whether environmental conditions are likely to worsen before the dozer finishes and leaves the sloped site.

  2. 2

    Stabilise the slope by first waiting until any standing water evaporates and mud hardens. Compact any loose gravel and remove boulders that rise from the slope surface enough to tip the dozer on its side should individual tires roll over them.

  3. 3

    Wear the dozer's seat belt at all times during operation on steep slopes. Do not operate a dozer on a slope where other dozers are working on the same slope at lower elevations to eliminate the risk of the dozer rolling or slipping into the path of other workers.

  4. 4

    Station a supervisor or co-worker at a safe distance from where the dozer is working on the slope and instruct him or her to watch dozer operations through completion to provide assistance in case of emergency.

  5. 5

    Drive slopes straight up and down rather than at an angle or sideways. Should the dozer begin slipping down hill, turn the nose of the dozer directly downhill and lower the basket or blade to the ground. Keep the basket or blade in its lowest travelling position while moving over sloping terrain.

  6. 6

    Operate the dozer on steep slopes in its lowest gear to provide maximum control over the machine.

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