Choosing the right equipment for elevated access work is key. In many situations, using a cherry picker is not only the quickest, cheapest and least intrusive alternative to scaffolding platforms or towers, it can also be the safest option by far. However, the selection of this equipment is not to be taken likely, their selection and use should follow a considered and planned process ensuring the environment and conditions of use are acceptable for the equipment. Here are the 4 key safety points to consider when selecting a Cherry picker as your working at height solution.
1. Check ground conditions
Before working with a cherry picker, make sure that the ground is level and suitable to work on. You shouldn’t use a cherry picker:
- On unstable ground
- On sloping ground (refer to manufacturer’s instructions for maximum permitted incline)
- In high winds or extreme cold
- During thunderstorms, due to the risk of lightning strikes
- Near power lines, in case of electrical arcing and or entanglement
- In the dark
- While exceeding the maximum safe working load, due to the risk of toppling over
2. Don’t take risks
A cherry picker is a movable platform to help with a wide range of high level access tasks. For your own personal safety, it’s important to stay within the parameters of the harness and working platform at the top of the equipment. Due to the heights involved, a serious fall from a cherry picker may lead to more than just a broken ankle – it can be fatal.
You may be tempted to overreach while carrying out your activity from the platform, perhaps while pruning trees, but don’t underestimate for a moment how dangerous this can be. This is no place for heroics or risk taking – much safer to move the cherry picker from place to place to obtain access.
3. Carry out a risk assessment
It goes without saying that a full risk assessment should be carried out for any job where a cherry picker will be used, and a fall protection system should be in place. Accidents involving cherry pickers mainly occur as a result of:
- Mechanical equipment failure
- Unsuitable ground conditions
- Serious falls
- Contact with other vehicles
One aspect that is always notoriously difficult to assess is the human element. People will do stupid things without warning, and their unexpected actions can have far reaching consequences. If at all possible, make sure other distracting personnel are kept well away from the cherry picker operation, or ensure they are included in your safety plan.
4. Provide adequate training
Health and safety training, including specific working at height training, is obviously essential – however there is a huge difference in training operatives to safely use static high level access equipment such as ladders, platform and scaffold towers, and working on a moveable elevated platform such as a cherry picker.
All cherry picker operatives must be fully trained beforehand, to ensure that they are fully conversant with the operation of the machinery along with all the relevant safety precautions. Regular training updates are particularly important for those who only work with cherry pickers occasionally, for the health and safety protection of everyone, whether up high or on the ground.