How to Operate a Cherry Picker


Cherry pickers are lifts that raise people into the air. These work platforms have a bucket or platform on the end of a hydraulic lift system. They are used in orchards, for washing windows, powerwashing, painting, construction, mining, tree trimming, telephone service, cable service, electrical equipment, manufacturing, shipbuilding and in warehouses. They can tip easily on uneven ground, so they should be used only by trained, experienced operators.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety harness
  • Lanyard
  • Training
  • Certification

How to Operate a Cherry Picker

  • Attend a training class to learn to operate a cherry picker safely. Don't operate one until you're fully trained and certified. Falls from heights are the most common cause of death at work, and the second most common cause of serious injury.

  • Put on a full body harness and hook it to the lanyard with a shock absorber that's attached to the overhead guard on the cherry picker. Turn on the key and check the gauges to make sure the battery is charged.

  • Press your foot on the pedal on the platform floor. Pull back on the lever for reverse and push the lever up to go forward. Keep your foot on the pedal to move.

  • Use the steering wheel to turn to the left or right. Watch the light on your dashboard to see where your wheel is turned. A centered green light means you're wheel is straight, while yellow lights to the left or right indicate the wheel is turned to the left or right. A red light to the far left or right means the wheel is turned as far in that direction as it will go, and the cherry picker will beep and come to a halt when the wheel is turned too far.

  • Drive slowly on a cherry picker. Uneven ground, sudden turns and moving too fast, especially while in an elevated position, changes the center of balance and can cause the cherry picker to tip. Many cherry pickers have added safety features such as outriggers, safety arms, alarms, warning lights and emergency shut off.

  • Lower the lift all the way and turn the cherry picker off before unhooking the harness and dismounting.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure you're trained to lower the platform manually if the cherry picker loses power while you're using it. Different cherry pickers have different mechanisms for this.
  • Work on a cherry picker in an area with other people. If you fall off the platform, the harness will hold, but you'll need help to get down without serious injury.

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