Operating a Cherry Picker: Staying Safe above Ground

22 June 2015
 Categories: , Blog


If you are looking for a career that will lift you to new heights, consider learning to operate a cherry picker. These are aerial lifts that have buckets and platforms on the end that are used in construction, mining, cable service, shipbuilding, and electrical line repair.


Cherry picking comes under the category of crane and tower operations. Currently,  approximately 41,580 operators work in the U.S. and earn an average of $51,620 per year. The profession requires training and certification, and though it pays well and offers opportunities for career growth, operating a cherry picker can be a dangerous job. 


The skills needed to be successful in this career field are

  • Mechanical operation ability: You will need excellent depth perception and muscle coordination.
  • Critical thinking: You will need to assess each situation for safety and efficiency issues.
  • Time management: Your ability to finish jobs in a timely fashion is essential.
  • Mechanical repair ability: Being able to repair at least some equipment problems will keep you on schedule.
  • Coordination: You will have to move your equipment in concert with other workers' actions. 
  • Mathematics: You will need some basic mathematical skills to be successful.


Obviously, the correct training is the most important factor in remaining safe. However, even well-trained employees can get careless when they use heavy equipment. When you are operating your cherry-picker, remember to do the following:

  • Obey manufacturer instructions for maintaining and operating the equipment.
  • Do not override any safety devices.
  • Do not move the cherry picker if employees are on the platform, unless it is specifically allowed by the manufacturer. 
  • Never put workers between the rails of the basket and overhead hazards, otherwise they could be crushed.
  • Keep at least ten feet away from overhead electrical lines. 
  • Always act as if power lines are live.
  • Always use a body harness or restraining belt.
  • Use outriggers, or platform legs, when possible. 
  • Stay within the load limits of the equipment. 

Unstable ground also causes some accidents, as well as mechanical failures. 

Any career that uses aerial lift equipment poses some risk of injury. With the correct training and experience, your job as a cherry picker operator can be a satisfying, long-term career choice. The wages are excellent and the job is always in demand. Once you learn the ropes on this apparatus, you can translate those skills into other crane and tower operations, such as boom lifts, spider lifts, and scissor lifts. This versatility will help ensure continuous employment during your working life.