Do Cherry Pickers Need an MOT?

Cherry pickers are extremely useful and versatile. Their fully articulated hydraulic arm provides easy access to areas that are impossible to reach with other mobile elevating work platforms (e.g. scissor lifts). What’s more, many cherry pickers are mobile, meaning that they can be manoeuvred from one position to the other by the operator from within the cage. This can help make operations more efficient. But if a cherry picker uses wheels and an engine, doesn’t that technically make it a vehicle? As such, users may reasonably wonder if their cherry pickers need an MOT.   The rules around cherry picker MOTs are a little muddy. New legislation put into place in 2018 dictates that some cherry pickers need an MOT, but not all. Let’s take a closer look at the laws to help keep you on the right side of compliance.

Which cherry pickers need an MOT?

In the wake of legislative changes, the MOT exemption that used to apply to all cherry pickers no longer applies to some models. In May 2018, changes to the Goods Vehicles (Plating and Testing) Regulations 1988 came into effect, mandating that many (but not all) cherry picker models be removed from MOT exemption.   So, which cherry pickers need an MOT?   An estimated 29,500 vehicles were brought into testing before the mandated deadline of May 2019. These include all cherry pickers models that are “vehicles based on an HGV chassis” with a Gross Vehicle Weight up to 44 tonnes. So, if you use an HGV with a mounted hydraulic arm, (i.e. an HGV-mounted MEWP), this vehicle needs to be submitted for an MOT inspection. This must take place alongside the other regular inspections that are part of your operations.   As well as HGV mounted cherry pickers, this also includes:
  • Mobile cranes
  • Breakdown vehicles
  • Tarmac or bitumen mixers
  • Tower wagons
  • Road construction vehicles
  • Motor tractors and tractor units pulling exempt vehicles

Which cherry pickers are exempt?

Although tens of thousands of cherry pickers are no longer subject to MOT exemption, there are many that still are. The new legislation states that MOT exemption still applies to vehicles that are classed as ‘Non-Road Mobile Machinery’.   The DVLA includes any vehicle within this category if it meets these criteria:
  • “Mobile machinery which is not suitable for carrying passengers or for transporting goods”
  • Note that “Machinery mounted on a motor vehicle chassis is not considered mobile machinery”
  This applies to standard mobile cherry pickers, as they are not designed to be driven on roads. As such, they are classified as plant machinery, rather than vehicles. As well as cherry pickers, exemption also applies to:
  • Bulldozers
  • Pumps
  • Forklift trucks
  • Industrial trucks
  • Mobile cranes
  • Generators
  Larger MEWPs that come under Special Types General Order (STGO) rules will also continue to be exempt. It would simply not be practical (or even logistically possible) to carry out an MOT inspection on these.  

Why did the law change?

The rationale behind the change in legislation is to improve road safety. The types of vehicles that are no longer MOT-exempt are more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents should they develop a fault.   Jesse Norman MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Roads, Local Transport and Devolution) stated:   “The UK has an excellent record in improving road safety for all road users, and robust and comprehensive roadworthiness testing is a key means of achieving this.   Our statistics indicate that the vehicles that are exempt from testing are more likely to be involved in road accidents that were caused by vehicle defects”.   Norman also pointed out that regulation needed to be altered to keep up with the changing nature of mobile machine plant design:   “It is important that the regulatory regime keeps up as the vehicles used on our roads develop and adapt. Increased standardisation of design has made many formerly special, “untestable” vehicles no different from a practical perspective from heavy goods vehicles.”

Reaction to the changes

  Although commitment to road safety is commendable, there are some within the plant manufacturing, hire and sales industry that voiced some concerns, alongside owners and operators of HGV-mounted MEWPs.   The proposed changes could throw a spanner in the works of operations for many. Bringing vehicles in for testing in line with MOT expiry and renewal dates could prove impractical with vehicles out on hire on a long term basis. Moving hired plant off-site to fulfil an MOT inspection could be extremely inconvenient, disruptive and expensive.   Some also raised the point that current technical guidelines already require a strict regime of inspection, examination and maintenance to ensure roadworthiness. This far eclipses the level of testing required for an MOT, making it not just an inconvenience, but one that may be seen as largely redundant.   However, these regulations are still in their relative infancy. According to the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), there may be some flexibility to the way in which these new laws are implemented so that companies stay compliant without huge disruption to their operations.

Do our cherry pickers need an MOT?

  The good news is that our cherry pickers fall squarely in the category of Non-Road Mobile Machinery. So they continue to be MOT-exempt in line with the new legislation. When you hire or purchase one of our mobile cherry pickers, you can relax in the knowledge that you won’t need to worry about the disruption and inconvenience of an MOT inspection in the middle of a project.   We also provide training for MEWPs. So you and your team can be assured of safe and efficient operations for years to come! If you are interested in any of our services, simply contact our friendly team today.