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  3. HSE issues cherry picker safety alert

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a safety alert over cherry pickers following the results of its investigation into the deaths of operators working the machinery.

The news comes after the HSE analysed the deaths of seven mobile elevating work platform operators. It is advising those responsible that taking simple steps can easily prevent fatalities and serious injury from the machines.

The alert says that using simple covers which go over the controls and ensuring that operators wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE) is not enough to prevent crushing beneath fixed structures.

In five of the seven deaths that were investigated by the HSE, the operator of the platform had been crushed between an overhead fixing, such as a roof or beam structure, and a cover installed on the machine's controls.

The deaths were found to be caused by asphyxiation or crushing, from the operator falling onto the control panel and becoming pinned.

The findings by the HSE have led the body to conclude that the use of simple secondary anti-crushing measures should be encouraged. Anti-crush bars should be used, for example, whilst pressure-sensitive devices being attached to the cherry pickers could also help.

To tackle to issue of deaths caused when working with the cherry pickers, a number of firms and contractors are banning the use of the machines if they do not have robust safety measures.

In 2012, Skanska became the first UK contractor to issue such a ban, when it said that only units with anti-crush bars could be used on its work sites.

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