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Blog: Top 10 Safety Tips For Operating A Cherry Picker

28 May 2024

Our Top Ten Tips For Safely Operating A Cherry Picker

Also known as an aerial work platform, the ‘Cherry Picker’ is a hydraulic crane that is used to reach areas that are too high and risky to access by ladder.

Like the name suggests, these mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) are ideal for picking fruit from trees too high to climb, though the application possibilities extend far beyond the orchard.

Mounted onto a truck, the hydraulic lifting system provides a safe and simple access solution for warehouse and construction sites, building maintenance, telephone and electrical pole servicing, roofing and guttering, lighting and filming for TV, and much more.

Though it’s important to note, the higher you work, the higher the risk. Just one look at statistics tells us that falls from height are the biggest cause of fatal injury in workplaces in the UK.Working at heights require thorough safety checks in preparation and during use.

These are our essential 10 steps we advise that you take before operating a cherry picker:


1.    Train First

To operate a cherry picker, specific training and certification is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Training includes hands-on practice with the cherry picker, the hazards associated and hazard management.

Since the cherry picker is a MEWP, unlike typical static access lifts, a higher level of training is necessary. We recommend that all operators and grounds personnel fully understand health and safety regulations and emergency protocols to minimise the risks for everyone on-site.


2.    Follow Manufacturer's Guidelines

Read the manufacturer’s guidelines thoroughly and ensure that you understand all instructions during use. Remember that each cherry picker is different, so it is vital to be aware of the specific operating procedures, settings, and controls to ensure safety during use.


3.    Inspect all equipment

No stone can be left unturned when it comes to equipment inspection. Check that all components and equipment is installed properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will include testing that the boom, platform, controls, switches and emergency systems are functioning correctly.

Be on the lookout for visible signs of damage, such as under-inflated tires, faulty brakes, or hydraulic fluid leaks. All inspections must be carried out by a competent professional.


4.    Choose A Solid Surface

Terrain is an essential factor to consider before operating a cherry picker. The ground must be level, solid and suitable for a cherry picker base. If you are operating the cherry picker outdoors, environmental elements such as high winds or rain may increase the risk of tipping, slipping or sliding – especially when operating on a slope.


5.    Assess the work area

Identify potential safety threats. Keep an eye out for any overhead obstructions, such as tree branches, power lines and anything else that may hinder the raising and manoeuvring of the machine to prevent damage to the cherry picker and potential injuries to the operators. This also includes clearing the work area of equipment and debris, leaving only authorised ground personnel inside the designated zone.


6.    Wear appropriate fall protection

Working at heights requires even more protection than standard personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition to a hard hat, non-slip footwear, safety glasses, gloves, and a high-vis, a personal fall arrest system is the key to safely operating a cherry picker.

This typically involves a full-body safety harness, which serves as a lifeline for operators who are accessing substantial heights. The harness should be thoroughly tested beforehand, fitted correctly and securely attached to the designated anchor point on the working platform.

Remember to check the length of the fall protection system to minimise potential fall distance and maximise safety.


7.    Adhere to platform load limits

Every cherry picker has a specified safe working load (SWL) that must be adhered to. This encompasses all operators; their tools and any material being lifted. Exceeding the SWL limit can incur structural damage, which can lead to instability and serious accidents.


8.    Avoid overreaching

Patience is a virtue. Always allow the cherry picker adequate time to ascend or descend to a sufficient distance from the ground, or from the object you wish to reach before making that stretch.

Attempting to reach too far out of the platform can cause loss of balance of the operator as well as compromising the stability of the entire machine, taking the boom, platform and all materials toppling over with you.

An awareness of the maximum vertical and horizontal reach your equipment offers, appropriate positioning of the cherry picker before operation, plus keeping weight centred on the platform will help to protect the balance.


9.    Keep a line of Communication

Communication is key. It is crucial to maintain a clear line of communication with the ground personnel at all times via a radio ear-piece or define specific signals to ensure all eventualities are responded to with immediate effect.


10.  Prepare for emergencies

In case of an emergency, most modern cherry pickers are equipped with emergency safety devices, including an urgent stop button and manual lowering procedure in the event of a power outage. Both the operators and ground personnel must be trained in emergency procedures. This includes having a plan in place without entirely relying on emergency services.

In addition to emergency stop switches located on the platform, safety controls must be easily accessible by ground rescue personnel throughout the operation. We recommend rehearsing the emergency plan until all crew members are confident in the swift and safe execution of the procedure.


Need more help?

Here at National Site Supplies, our priority is to supply you with the best tool for the job. All of our MEWPs are premium solutions reinforced by intelligent diagnostic systems that ensure your safety with sensors and alarms to guarantee rapid troubleshooting and system security.

To discover the right cherry picker you need for the job, you can browse our dependable, versatile and fully-electric range. Get in touch with our dedicated team if you have any questions, or further concerns regarding MEWP-related safety and we will be happy to help you.