Castle Access

Fall Prevention: A Guide for Cherry Picker Users

In the world of warehousing and logistics, cherry-picking is the process of picking out items from a shelf in a warehouse or storage facility, usually as part of order fulfilment. Since items are often stowed at height in these facilities, if you are doing this kind of work, you may need to use a cherry picker – a type of mast lift. As with any equipment used to operate at height, using a cherry picker leaves you open to potential health and safety risks. 

In this blog, we have ‘cherry-picked’ some of the risks you should be aware of when you set out to use this equipment, and we explore some targeted tips to keep you safe.

Common risks:

  • Platform height

The most obvious risk to workers is falling from a height that may cause serious injury – or even a fatal outcome. If the machine operator and any additional staff members working on the platform get distracted or temporarily lose balance, they could fall to the ground or onto other equipment being utilised for the task.

Also, if workers are huddling to one side of the platform, this may cause the centre of gravity of the lift to get displaced, tipping the lift. In either case, the higher the platform is elevated, the greater the risk of injury.

  • Overreaching

Sometimes, workers may be tempted to cut corners and try to reach objects by leaning over the guardrails rather than repositioning the equipment. Overreaching can also move the centre of gravity, destabilising the lift and causing people or objects to fall.

  • Uneven terrain

If the spot where the cherry picker is being used is uneven, or if there are obstacles to be navigated, this can lead to your equipment becoming unstable.

  • Lack of guard rails

If your cherry picker does not have guard rails, your workers are not safe. We don’t recommend you use any equipment to work at height that doesn’t provide this basic safety feature for users.

  • Jerky platform movements

If the cherry picker is not correctly operated, the platform can jerk or produce sudden movements that can cause the worker/s onboard to lose their balance and fall. 

Alongside these common fall hazards, your workplace might have specific red flags to consider when working from a cherry picker; these might include overhanging electrical wires or narrow aisles.

Preventive measures:

  • Proper training

Your equipment should only be run by a trained operator. Proper training ensures your team knows how to handle the cherry picker correctly and understands the safety measures to take while working on the platform.

  • Guard rails

Guard rails are excellent barriers to prevent workers from falling off elevated platforms. Many cherry pickers come with these rails installed on all sides of the platform, but if your equipment doesn’t have them, consider getting temporary ones installed. If you already have them, be sure to check they are firmly attached and secure before each use. 

  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE)

The operator and any other workers working on the cherry picker’s platform should use appropriate harness systems attached to the anchor points of the platform. Correct PPE provides an additional layer of safety should a fall occur – or if the machine were to malfunction.

  • Respecting load limits

Every mast lift or cherry picker has a load limit specified by its manufacturer that should never be exceeded. This number, available in the user manual, is the combined weight of the worker/s on the platform, tools, and the weight of the objects being picked. If you know your items are particularly heavy, you must choose an appropriate cherry picker with a higher load limit. 

  • Platform stability

Always ensure that your access equipment is on a level surface, and if it has stabilisers or outriggers, those are deployed before you begin using the machine. This ensures that your platform is level with the ground and not at an angle that exacerbates the chance of people or objects falling from height. 

  • Avoiding overreaching

Workers should always be informed not to overreach or try to access objects that are beyond a safe distance from the guardrails of the cherry picker. 

As mentioned in the previous section, overreaching displaces the centre of gravity and destabilises the whole mobile elevated working platform. Instead of trying to save time by taking a shortcut, the operator should reposition the equipment to access items easily. 

  • Inspections & maintenance 

Inspecting your cherry picker before every use ensures you are aware of any wear and tear, malfunctions, and other forms of damage that may affect the safe operation of your machine. Regular inspections and maintenance ensure fewer accidents and a longer lifespan for your machinery. 

  • Knowing emergency procedures

Your employees, both the operator and anyone else working on the cherry picker’s platform, should be familiar with emergency protocols. These may include lowering procedures in case of a power outage or equipment malfunction. Check the manual of the specific machine you are using to gain targeted knowledge of ideal safety procedures.

  • Clear communication with ground staff

Your lift operator should always maintain clear communication with any personnel working on the factory or warehouse floor, especially those in the vicinity of the cherry picker. Any non-essential team members should be asked to stay away until the job is done, and those needed close by must thoroughly understand their roles and responsibilities so as to minimise risk. 

  • Cleanliness & housekeeping

Your work area should be kept clean and free of obstacles to prevent tripping hazards or obstructions that could affect the cherry picker’s operations – including on the platform’s surface and the surrounding floor.

  • Supervision

When your cherry picker is being used on the factory or warehouse floor, try to have a designated supervisor or person who can monitor its operations and ensure all safety protocols are followed.

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Depending on your specific circumstances, you may take additional precautions to prevent falls. 

Check out our blog post on scissor lift safety tips, which includes a few related precautions that you may find useful. If you are planning a cherry picker rental in Auckland and its surrounds, our team can help you find targeted solutions and share tips to fit your circumstances – let’s stay safe together.