Health and Safety

Cherry Pickers are otherwise known as Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)

Know about your dangers.

MEWP dangers arise from operation and use of the machine rather than from their movement as a site vehicle. It is, therefore, important that hazards within the environment must be properly controlled.

A safe workplace for all vehicle operations can be established by separating pedestrians and vehicles and providing hazard-free traffic routes.

The Main MEWP hazards

Controlling the risk
Training and competence
Inspection, maintenance, and examination
It is possible for a MEWP to overturn, which could cause serious injury or even death to operators. Care must be taken, and an appropriate MEWP and ensure that the machine is properly managed. Instruction and training are very important requirements for the operator.

MEWP hazards
Most fatal and serious injuries involving MEWPs arise from:

Entrapment: operator trapped between part of the basket and a fixed structure, eg when maneuvering in confined overhead areas of steelwork. Operators may become trapped against the platform controls, and if this happens they may not be able to stop the machine running.
Overturning: the machine may overturn throwing the operator from the basket;
Falling: an operator may fall from the basket during work activities; and
Collision: the vehicle may collide with pedestrians, overhead cables or nearby vehicles.
Hazards should risk assessed and identified within a suitable control measure put in place.

Controlling the risk
It is important to select the right MEWP for the job and site.

Have a plan for rescuing someone from a MEWP and practise it – someone on the ground should know what to do in an emergency and how to operate the machine’s ground controls.

Reducing the risk from MEWP hazards:

Confined overhead working:
Operators should be briefed on the dangers, and the safe system of work to be followed. Overhead structures should be spotted in case the operator gets trapped and pushed down onto the MEWP controls, consider your variant of MEWP to suit your purpose.
MEWPs with shrouded or otherwise protected controls are available.
Keeping a tidy platform will reduce the risk of the operator tripping or losing balance while in the basket.
The platform should be used on firm and level ground. Temporary covers should be strong enough to withstand the applied pressure.
Outriggers should be extended and chocked before raising the platform. Spreader plates may be necessary – check the equipment manual.
Guardrails: should be fitted to the work platform with effective guard rails and toe boards.
Arresting falls: A harness should be worn if there is still a risk of people falling from the platform.An anchorage point within the basket to stop the wearer from getting into a position where they could fall from the carrier.
Falling objects: barrier off the area around the platform so that falling tools or objects do not strike people below.
Weather: high winds can tilt platforms and make them unstable. Set a maximum safe wind speed for operation. Storms and snowfalls can also damage platforms. Ensure you inspect the platform before use after severe weather.
Handling materials: if used to install materials check the weight and dimensions of materials and consider any manual handling and load distribution issues. Additional lifting equipment may be required to transport materials to the work position.
Nearby hazards: do not operate a MEWP close to overhead cables or other dangerous machinery, or allow any part of the arm to protrude into a traffic route.
Training and competence
MEWP operators should have attended a recognized operator training course and received a certificate, card or ‘licence’, listing the categories of MEWP the bearer is trained to operate.

The expiry date of the training license or card should be checked.

In addition to formal training for the type of MEWP, operators should have familiarization training on the controls and operation of the specific make and model of MEWP they are using.

Inspection, maintenance, and examination
A program of daily visual checks, regular inspections, and servicing schedules should be established in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the risks associated with each MEWP.

Report defects or problems. Reported problems should be put right quickly and the MEWP took out of service if the item is safety critical.

The MEWP must be thoroughly examined at least every six months by a competent person or in accordance with an examination scheme drawn up by such a competent person.