Ride-on Troweling Machine

A ride-on troweling machine is a drivable trowel that can be used in place of a walk-behind trowel for large concrete finishing projects.


A ride-on troweling machine is an engineering control that can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders from forceful exertions and awkward postures from using walk-behind trowels.  It is a drivable unit designed to remove flaws and compress concrete while covering more area in a shorter amount of time.  These vehicles are equipped with a seat and handles, or a joystick, for easy maneuvering.

Power trowels are used to remove flaws and compress concrete. A ride-on trowel can be used in place of a walk-behind trowel for large concrete finishing projects. Ride-on trowels are designed to cover more area in a shorter amount of time. Ride-on trowels are also designed to maximize operator comfort. The trowels are equipped with a seat and handles or a joystick for easy maneuvering. 

Ride-on trowels are available in a variety of sizes and design types. Trowel widths vary from 70-100 inches and weigh between 300-800 lbs. Trowel blades come in overlapping and non-overlapping designs. Non-overlapping designs leave a small trail between the blades that require extra finishing. Over-lapping blade designs do not leave this trail.

             ride on troweling machine
Figure 1. Whiteman ride-on trowel. (Photo courtesy of Multiquip Inc.)

Risks Addressed:

Stooped postures can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”), which is bulging of disc material possibly pressing on the spinal cord or nerves that go into the leg.  The ride-on troweling machine can help reduce stooped postures by allowing the operator to sit rather than push the machine, which often involves twisting maneuvers that can put additional strain on the low back. 

How Risks are Reduced:

When using a walk-behind trowel, a rotational force is produced which requires the operator to use extra force to keep the trowel travelling in a straight line. Excess force is placed on the trunk, spine, and arms. A ride-on trowel eliminates this extra force. The operator is able to sit and easily maneuver the machine with handles or a single joystick.
Safety and health experts believe that decreasing the amount of stress placed on the trunk, spine, and arms reduces the risk of injury to these areas. Rotational forces are harmful to the low back and could cause injury. Additionally, excess exertion of shoulder muscles may cause injury.

Effects on Productivity:

The ride-on trowel increases productivity on large concrete finishing projects.

Additional Considerations:

When using a ride-on trowel, the operator frequently looks behind the machine to check the progress and quality of concrete surface. The operator should try to look over both shoulders rather than consistently looking to the same side.   This will help eliminate asymmetrical neck and back positions.
Most walk-behind power trowels are able to be loaded onto trucks for easy transports. Ride-on trowel, however, weight up to 800lbs and should not be manually loaded without the use of extra transport equipment.
Ride-on trowels provide many benefits, but walk-behind trowels are still necessary for many concrete finishing jobs. Walk-behind trowels are best for finished edges, projects less than 3,000 square feet, and projects with many obstructions.


Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Cassie Malecha, DPT – Eastern Washington University

Hazards Addressed:


Multiquip Inc. Whiteman Ride-on Trowels
To obtain information, visit http://www.multiquip.com or contact 1-800-421-1244 mq@multiquip.com

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.