Originally used in orchards to pick fruit, cherry pickers have become vital pieces of equipment within the construction industry. According to Health & Safety Training Limited, the top use for cherry pickers today is building maintenance.
It’s clear from this information that this type of equipment has greatly helped the construction industry; however, using cherry pickers for maintenance work does come with great risks. In fact, the Health and Safety Executive recorded that falls from a height were the most common cause of worker fatality in 2012/13, accounting for 31 per cent of deaths.
This doesn’t state whether the falls are actually because of cherry pickers, but from the examples of accidents below companies are taking strong precautions anyway to ensure none of their staff have any fatal injuries.
The most recent incident to reach the press was the accident involving Nicholas Chenery. In April 2014 the Royston Crow reported that Mr Chenery suffered a compound fracture to the left leg and three fractured vertebrae to his lower spine when falling from a cherry picker 12 metres high.
Mr Chenery was rigging three overhead lines at Chipping, on the A10 between Royston and Buntingford, when the security line he was fastened to was pulled over by a dumpster truck, causing him and the cherry picker to fall. Because his employer had failed to comply with HSE safety regulations, the company was fined £35,000.
That’s not the only incident to break the headlines. In 2013, Richard Jaeger-Fozard died when the cherry picker he was on came crashing down on to the M25 in Buckinghamshire. According to Highways Industry.com, the cause of the accident is unclear.
These accidents are causing great concern, especially since the government put the Work at Heights Regulations together in 2005 to stop incidents like this happening. These regulations are to ensure that work at a height is properly planned, organised and the risks of the work are accessed so the appropriate work equipment can be selected.
It’s clear from the statistics and previous accidents that not all companies are working alongside these regulations or using the correct equipment.
While it’s up to the company to make sure their employees follow and maintain these regulations, finding the right equipment couldn’t be easier. Nifty Lift offers trailer-mounted, self-propelled, self-drive, track-drive, static-base and vehicle-mounted cherry pickers, all with working heights ranging from 30ft to 96ft.
Different cherry pickers are used for different types of construction jobs; however, construction employees should all be familiar with The Engineering Construction Industry Association (ECIA) guide. This highlights health and safety precautions they must take to avoid trapping, crushing and falling injuries to people who are in the platform.
As well as this guide, a must among workers is a safety harness. There’s not a specific height that requires you to wear a safety harness; however, in construction, not wearing a safety harness is taken seriously, so seriously that employees can lose their job on the spot because of it.
Many companies in construction have stated that if employees are using cherry pickers, then using a harness as a restraint is the most suitable form of personal fall protection. This is because there’s a high risk of sudden movements, which can be caused by impact, ground movement, failure of a stability critical part, or overreaching.
Ensuring staff know how to wear this safety equipment properly is vital. If they’re unsure how to correctly wear a harness, here’s a picture from AFI Uplift, which is easy to understand.