If you know anything about physics, you’ll quickly realize the potential of the cherry picker (or boom lift) to become a catapult. The back tires are raised up a good 2 or 3 feet, so you could see how an abrupt drop from the bridge to solid land could be a problem for the guy operating the picker. Apparently this guy isn’t too familiar with the laws of physics and doesn’t realize what’s about to happen. He’s actually lucky to escape this ordeal with his life or without serious injury.
Boom Lift Turns Catapult
A catapult works, or “worked” would probably be the more appropriate term, by storing tension from tightened ropes or a piece of wood when pulled back into position. The releasing of this tension moves the arm forward, propelling the payload through the air. Obviously, there are no ropes in play here, but the tension is created by the force generated from the drop in height. And just like a catapult, a cherry picker has an arm attached and the “payload” here is the guy operating the machine!
Not Just for Picking Cherries
While the catapult traces it’s invention back to the 1st Century B.C., the cherry picker was of course invented much much later. Also known as a boom lift, elevated work platform, basket crane, hydraladder, or manlift, the cherry picker was invented in the early 1940s by Jay Eitel, who designed a telescopic bucket lift attached to a truck. Though its original use was to give pickers easy access to fruit that was high up on trees—(hence the name cherry picker)—Eitel’s invention proved especially useful to firefighters, who began using cherry pickers to access fires in high-rise buildings. The uses for cherry pickers don’t end there though, as they are critical pieces of equipment in several areas today:
- Servicing electricity and telephone poles
- Tree trimming
- Maintaining buildings
- Filming large events
- Filming movies
How a Boom Lift Actually Works
A cherry picker consists of a hydraulic lifting system with an enclosed work platform or bucket attached to it. The lifting system and platform are typically attached to a truck or other large vehicle. Alternatively, some are attached to trailers, self-driving bases, or static bases. Cherry pickers can be powered by either a diesel engine or battery. While the earliest cherry pickers required 2 people to operate, the pickers of today can be operated by one person on the platform. You’ll notice the operator can not only raise and move the hydraulic lift, also known as a boom, but also move the vehicle or base in any direction.
Chances are this dude isn’t trained and certified because he’s not following the safety rules of operating a cherry picker. Before you operate one, you need to be in a full body harness. The harness then needs to be hooked to a shock absorber which is then attached to the overhead guard on the picker. You may be interested to know the operation steps after you’re all strapped in. (Just keep in mind that you need to be trained and certified before you can operate one):
- Turn the key and make sure the battery is charged.
- Press the pedal on the floor of the platform with your foot. With your foot pressed down, you can push the lever up to move forward and down to go in reverse.
- The steering wheel allows you to turn left or right. On your dashboard, you can see whether your wheel is centered (green light), turned left or right (yellow light), or turned as far left or right as possible (red light).
- You should drive slowly on a cherry picker, as sudden turns and going to fast can cause the picker to tip over. Also, take a hint from this jobsite accident and avoid driving over any kind of ledge!
- When you’re done picking your cherries, lower the lift all the way before you unhook your harness.
After consideration, I thought about how lucky this guy was to basically cheat death. He got a good 2 feet of air and possibly some bruises but it could have been so much worse. I also wondered how far you could actually launch someone or something on one of these things with enough force. Then again, maybe we should leave that kind of thing to actual catapults.
Sources: ( 1 | 2 )