How to Use a Cherry Picker: A Comprehensive Guide

Learn how to use a cherry picker while understanding the standards and practices to ensure a safe and effective operation.

The term “cherry picker” is widely used throughout the aerial works industry. But what exactly are they, and what are they used for? 

They are versatile aerial work platforms widely used across various industries in Australia for tasks such as maintenance, construction, and utility work. These mobile platforms offer a safe and efficient way to perform tasks at height. In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of using cherry pickers, focusing on Australian standards and practices to ensure safe and effective operation.

Understanding These Equipment

Often confused with a boom lift, it is unique in its design and functionality. While both are used for aerial works, the primary difference lies in their range of motion and typical applications. Known for their ‘crane-like’ arm, they are a moveable platform typically smaller and more manoeuvrable than boom lifts. This makes them ideal for tasks that require vertical lifting in confined spaces, such as reaching high tree branches or performing exterior repairs on buildings. Boom lifts, in contrast, have a straight or articulating arm that provides both vertical and horizontal reach, making them suitable for larger-scale projects that require extensive reach, like construction work on tall buildings.

In Australia, the Cherry Pickers range varies widely to accommodate different needs. The types include:

      • Electric: Ideal for indoor use or in noise-sensitive environments, they are compact and emit no fumes.
      • Diesel: Perfect for outdoor use, especially on rough terrain. They offer more power and a larger range of motion.
      • Truck-Mounted: Known for their mobility, they are best for jobs that require moving between multiple locations quickly.
      • Trailer-Mounted: A portable Cherry Picker that can be towed by a standard vehicle, making them ideal for jobs in different locations.

When looking for an Elevated Work Platform (EWP) to rent, consider key technical specifications, including working height, lift capacity, outreach, and power source. The working height determines how high the equipment can reach, lift capacity indicates the maximum load, outreach measures horizontal extension, and the power source (electric, diesel, or hybrid) influences the working environment and mobility. Understanding these specs is essential for choosing the right one for your project’s specific needs, ensuring both safety and efficiency.

Pre-Operation Checks and Safety Regulations

Before manual operation, several steps must be taken to ensure safety. It’s essential to conduct a thorough pre-operation checklist, which includes familiarising yourself with controls and safety features, adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines, inspecting the equipment, assessing the worksite for hazards, and ensuring all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), like harnesses, helmets, and fall protection gear, is available and in good condition.

Operating cherry pickers requires proper licensing and certification. These Australian safety standards and regulations include:

      • Licensing Requirements: For those under 11 metres, operators need an EWP Yellow Card, indicating they’ve completed the necessary training. For platforms over 11 metres, a High Risk Work Licence, recognised nationwide, is mandatory.
      • Regulatory Compliance: All operators must complete recognised training programmes and adhere to Work Health and Safety Regulations and state or territory-specific guidelines.

Operating and Understanding the Controls

Transitioning from the crucial pre-operation checks and safety regulations, it’s essential to grasp how to operate a cherry picker effectively. Here’s a brief guide on navigating the controls and procedures:

      • Boarding and Familiarization: Once you board, take some time to familiarize yourself with its controls. You’ll typically find proportional controls that manage raising and lowering the platform, extending the boom for reach, and rotating the platform for better positioning.
      • Engaging the Machine: Start the machine and engage the control panel. You’ll need to select the appropriate mode for your operation, which could include steering the machine, driving it to the desired location, or operating the lift mechanism.
      • Operating the Lift: Utilize the proportional controls to raise the platform smoothly to your required height. You can also extend the boom for additional reach and rotate the platform to position it precisely for your task.

In terms of specific controls you may encounter, these are common across various models:

      • Proportional Controls: These allow for fine-tuned adjustments, offering smooth transitions in raising, lowering, and rotating.
      • Steering and Drive Controls: Essential for manoeuvering on site, ensuring precise placement.
      • Hydraulic Outrigger Legs: Used to stabilize and level the platform, these are vital for safe operation.
      • Telescopic Boom and Jib-Boom Controls: These extend the machine’s reach, crucial for accessing difficult-to-reach areas.
      • Traction Drive: This control is key for moving it around the site, and maintaining stability during operation.
      • Power Options: These machines come with various power options like battery, AC, gas, diesel, or hybrid, each suited for a different working environment.
      • Safety Devices: Most are equipped with emergency stop buttons, platform safety edges, and anti-collision systems to ensure the operator’s safety during use.

It’s important to note that the specific controls can vary based on the make and model. Therefore, always refer to the operator’s manual for the machine you are using. This manual will provide detailed information on the exact controls and their operation, ensuring you can use the machine safely and effectively.


Dos and Don’ts During Operation

For Safe and Efficient Use:

      • Create a stable base: Before operation, make sure it is placed on stable ground.
      • Secure personal protective equipment: Before going inside the cabin, secure all personal protective equipment, including safety harnesses and fall protection accessories.
      • Secure the surrounding environment: Ensure that the area around and beneath the machine is properly cleared and free from potential hazards, such as tools, debris, and overhead structures.  
      • Elevate at a reasonable speed: Do not try to ascend too quickly. Communicate with the vehicle driver when a reposition is required. 

Never Use a Cherry Picker:

      • When the ground incline is more than 5 degrees
      • During bad weather or thunderstorms
      • Near any cable or electric power lines
      • When in doubt of the weight load due to the risk of overturn or collapse

Remember, maximising efficiency and safety involves understanding its capabilities and limitations. Understand the wide range and the various ways they can be used to accommodate different needs.

In summary, effectively using EWPs in Australia involves understanding the various types and their specific applications, adhering to safety protocols, and being aware of licensing requirements. The pre-operation checks, along with recognising scenarios where they should not be used, are crucial for safety. If you’re looking for a cherry picker, Makana Hire is here to assist renters who need high-quality equipment or need more information on their manual operation. Our team is dedicated to providing expert advice and exceptional customer service, ensuring your projects are not only successful but also adhere to the highest safety standards.


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