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When and How to Use a Cherry Picker Safely

how to use a cherry picker

A cherry picker is a type of aerial work platform that consists of a bucket at the end of a hydraulic lifting system. They are used to lift the operator to otherwise inaccessible areas, such as the top of buildings, high trees, or to wash windows on the side of a skyscraper. Cherry pickers require specific skills and knowledge to operate them properly and safely, and all operators need professional cherry picker training. Anyone can use a cherry picker, but they have to show they’ve gone through aerial lift training that’ll satisfy U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. Workers interested in becoming qualified should look into the certification program with for online, convenient, and affordable education.

On this page, we’ll discuss cherry picker safety and the many ways in which cherry pickers are used professionally around the world. If you’re interested in learning more about cherry pickers and how to use a cherry picker, here are a few examples of situations that require the aid of a cherry picker:

  • • Orchard Picking and Tree Trimming

Cherry pickers got their name from their original use, which was picking fruit from tall trees in orchards. Modern equipment improved the safety in the field when the use of ladders was too risky. Cherry pickers are still used for this purpose today, as well as to trim tree branches and limbs in otherwise unclimbable trees.

  • • Building Maintenance

Tall buildings need to be continuously cleaned and painted. Ladders are not always sufficient, and they present many safety risks. Cherry pickers give operators security and mobility and are used to wash windows, paint siding, and complete other maintenance tasks.

  • • Telephone and Electrical Pole Servicing

There are thousands of miles of telephone and electricity poles around the world, and cherry pickers are used to maintain and repair them. For all those employed in these fields, cherry pickers are a regular part of their daily routine because they help to ensure they can reach the area needing servicing in the safest manner possible.

  • • Rescue Missions

Cherry pickers have been used to rescue people from high elevations, including malfunctioned roller coasters. Firefighters also use cherry pickers to rescue people trapped in tall buildings. When a ladder is not sufficient or safe, cherry pickers are used to bring those on upper floors to safety. Knowing how to use a cherry picker in rescue missions is a valuable skill for police departments, military units, and more.

  • • Lighting and Filming for Movies and Sporting Events

While designed for practical reasons, cherry pickers are also used to increase the dramatization of many films and theater performances. They are also known as “Condors” and are often used to suspend large lights above film sets when not on a soundstage. They are also used during sporting events to mount camera equipment high into the air to give watchers a birds-eye view of the game. This isn’t a typical use for this type of aerial lift, as the specialized planning involved requires collaboration with event planners, maintenance personnel, and facility supervisors. If you’d like to learn how to use a cherry picker to set up lighting, has the training you’re looking for!

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How Does a Cherry Picker Work?

Originally, cherry pickers were used to pick fruit, which is how they got their name. They feature a bucket or surface at the end of a hydraulic lifting system, which enables operators to reach high elevations.

Booms are among the most common cherry pickers. Popular boom options include:

  • Telescopic
  • Compact
  • Towable

Cherry pickers today are used in a wide range of work environments. With proper training, cherry picker operators can use the machine to clean and paint buildings, wash windows, trim trees, and perform other tasks at heights.

Cherry Picker Safety Requirements

There are several things that cherry picker operators can do to protect themselves and others, including:

  • Operate the cherry picker on stable ground
  • ✓ Avoid using the picker near power lines; if the lift is near power lines, an operator should maintain a minimum distance of 10 ft. for voltages up to 50kV
  • ✓ Wear a hard hat, safety boots, and other safety equipment
  • ✓ Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions
  • ✓ Avoid operating the picker in high winds or other inclement weather conditions

In addition, a cherry picker operator should inspect their machine before they begin a work project. If any picker defects are identified, the operator should notify their supervisor immediately.

How to Use a Cherry Picker

When using a cherry picker, you’ll want to be familiar with several steps and general usage guidelines to improve cherry picker safety and functionality overall. This list will help you get started.  Here’s a basic outline of how to use a cherry picker:

  1. Before you operate any aerial lift (including cherry pickers), you should be properly trained to the latest OSHA cherry picker safety standards. Can anyone use a cherry picker? It depends on training credentials. If you haven’t gone through the proper training, you can’t operate a cherry picker, or any type of aerial lift or scissor lift. But with the correct credentials, you’re good to go! has a complete training program to ensure you’re up to speed on important safety concepts. The safe use of cherry pickers is required by OSHA – which means everyone involved should have the latest safety training!
  2. Stability is essential for cherry picker safety in any setting. To ensure ground stability, do not park your cherry picker on a slope or incline.
  3. If the weather could compromise your job (wind, rain, snow, etc.), check with your safety supervisor to see if you should proceed.
  4. Conduct a risk assessment for overhead hazards. Just some include power lines, trees, buildings, overpasses, etc.
  5. Before going inside cherry picker cabin, secure all personal protective equipment, including safety harnesses, fall protection accessories, etc.
  6. Elevate at a reasonable speed. Don’t try to ascend too quickly.
  7. Communicate with the vehicle driver when you need to reposition the cherry picker.
  8. Pay attention to changing climate conditions during your tasks (see #3 above). This is an important step in how to use a cherry picker; you can never be too careful.
  9. Once you’re finished in the cherry picker cabin, coordinate with ground crew for safe return to ground level.
  10. Lower the cherry picker at a reasonable speed. Do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended operating requirements.
  11. Make your co-workers or site safety supervisor aware of any hazards or conditions that weren’t covered in the initial assessment in step #4. An example could be a hidden power line, or erratic wind conditions created by a nearby structure.

Training is crucial to learn how to properly use a cherry picker. It enables workers to learn how to operate a cherry picker and identify on-the-job hazards. That way, cherry picker operators can prioritize safety as they complete tasks at heights.

Can Anyone Use a Cherry Picker?

Many industrial workers would like to operate a cherry picker. But without the proper training credentials, it’s impossible to do so. OSHA requires all cherry picker operators in the United States to have aerial lift certification since a cherry picker is a type of aerial lift. ALC offers a trio of training packages designed to help anyone become the safest, most efficient aerial lift, scissor lift, or aerial work platform (AWP) worker.

Anyone can use a cherry picker, but they need the proper training – along with the credentials and proof of training – to show OSHA that they have the required training to operate one. If you need to get these credentials, sign up with us today.

Cherry Picker Safety Tips

Cherry pickers are large pieces of equipment that give users the ability to work at elevated heights in many settings. Following proper cherry picker safety protocol is essential in ensuring that you, your equipment, and those on your worksite stay safe. Keep these safety tips in mind when using a cherry picker:

  • – Follow manufacturer recommendations and settings.

  • Operating your cherry picker according to manufacturer specifications is essential for ensuring optimal cherry picker safety. Always maintain and operate elevating work platforms according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and never override hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical safety devices.
  • – Train first.

  • The first step to ensuring cherry picker safety on your jobsite is making sure that all workers who operate cherry pickers are OSHA-certified and properly trained in the safe use of the equipment.
  • – Create a stable base.

  • Terrain plays an important role in cherry picker safety. If the surrounding terrain is choppy, uneven, or slippery, find another area to work. It’s important to choose terrain that is level and free of slip hazards such as ice, oil, or other liquids. If you must position your cherry picker on an incline, always set the brakes and use wheel chocks. The safe use of cherry pickers starts from the ground up.
  • – Watch for overhead hazards.

  • Power lines, buildings, trees, bridges, and other overhead hazards can prevent the safe use of cherry pickers. Not only can these objects damage your cherry picker. They can also pose serious risks to operators in the bucket. Raising your cherry picker into airspace free of obstructions will help keep you and your equipment safe. Our cherry picker safety training provides more information on how to deal with overhead hazards.
  • – Use harnesses in the basket.

  • To minimize the risk of worker injury, always use a body harness or restraining belt with a lanyard attached to the boom or basket to prevent the worker(s) from being ejected or pulled from the basket.
  • – Do not exceed the load limits of your cherry picker.

  • The specific cherry picker you’re using will have clear-posted load limits. To prevent malfunction and worker injury, do not exceed these limits. Always allow for the combined weight of the worker, tools, and additional materials when loading your cherry picker.
  • – Communicate with the ground crew.

  • If you need to move the cherry picker or require any assistance, always stay in touch with the ground crew. A cherry picker operator in the bucket can’t do the job alone; to ensure the safe use of cherry pickers, keep those lines of communication open!
  • – Report any hazards to your supervisor. 

  • Reporting any hazards is important for the safe use of cherry pickers. If you encounter any dangerous conditions, make sure your boss or co-workers are aware. Likewise, making your supervisor aware of any problems you encounter with the cherry picker you are using will help prevent accidents for your crew or other crews on your jobsite. This is helpful for cherry picker users who are on the same job site multiple times.


These are only a few safety tips for cherry picker operators. There are several other aspects to cherry picker safety that all operators will need to know before becoming OSHA compliant and operating these versatile machines. When you sign up with us, you’ll have everything you need to become OSHA compliant.

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Want to Learn More About Cherry Picker Safety? Enroll in an ALC Safety Training Program

Cherry pickers are used around the world for many different functions. But whether they’re used for a concert or to repair an electrical cable line, operators are required to be trained and certified. Cherry picker training is the essential education that improves the safety of workplaces all over the country. And it is the best way to reduce the number of injuries and deaths that occur every year due to amateur workers. Not to mention, OSHA requires it.

If you’re looking into becoming a cherry picker operator or would like to know how to use a cherry picker, check out the high-quality, OSHA compliant cherry picker certification with They can have you certified in about one hour from the comfort of your home. Sign up today for the incredibly affordable course! 

For any questions about the safe use of cherry pickers, or if you’re interested in becoming an OSHA-compliant cherry picker operator, contact ALC online or call us today at (888) 278-8896.

Cherry Picker Safety Guide

Everything you wanted to know about cherry pickers, all in one spot! We asked our cherry pickers to come up with a comprehensive resource to explain cherry pickers: why they’re called cherry pickers, training requirements, safety hazards, and much more. Can anyone use a cherry picker? That’s an important question, and you’ll find the answers in this informative guide. To answer the question – of course, anyone can operate a cherry picker…assuming they have the required OSHA training. That’s what separates those who’d like to use a cherry picker and those lucky few who actually do! Check out our Cherry Picker Guide today and learn more about one of the most recognized and relevant types of equipment!

This post was originally written in 2016 and updated as of 2020. 

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