By Brian Hatch and Susan Doyle

Manbasket or MEWP (Mobile Elevated Work Platform) is a name for different tools used to obtain the same outcome: lift personnel and materials to height. 

Personnel safety is a consistent factor when it comes to manbasket operation. For MEWPs, a quick internet search for MEWP safety brings information from various sources on the what-to-do and not-to-do for these machines. In this article, the manbasket is discussed as an attachment to a telehandler.


Simply, A MEWP is a machine with the manbasket permanently attached to the unit. Whether an articulating arm, scissor lift, or mast, the basket is always in place. With telehandlers, the basket is treated as an attachment; connected when needed. Basket operation is similar with MEWPs. Using a Merlo telehandler as an example, I will explain a manbasket set up and its operation (many telehandler manufacturers offer a similar configuration). This knowledge is important for safe manbasket operation when attached to a telehandler.

One caveat: What follows builds on the fact this telehandler is preprogrammed for the manbasket attachment. This status needs to be clarified before the basket can be attached. 

Attaching the basket to the boom. Always think safety when connecting the manbasket to the telehandler. With Merlo, manbaskets operate only with machines that are equipped with stabilizers/outriggers. First, deploy the stabilizers. The carriage must be snug against the base of the basket and attached to the basket hooks.

Look for: Is the boom carriage correctly in place, straight against the basket frame, no gaps, on the basket frame hooks? (Reminder, the carriage should not have anything else attached to it when connecting to a manbasket.)

Next, raise the boom to bring the basket floor to eye height for the next step. Now, find the safety pin. It should be attached to the basket with a stout chain. Slide the pin through the channel and secure it with the finger lock. The pin has to line up with the basket’s safety button and the pin’s finger lock has to be securely in place; no play on the pin.

Look for: With the basket at eye level, under the basket, to the right, is a sight hole where you can see if the pin is placed properly. (The Merlo safety system will sound an alarm if the pin is not snug against the safety plate.) Is there play on the pin? If so, reset the pin and adjust the finger lock. No play? Great. Lower the basket back to the ground for the next step.

Basket condition. Just because a manbasket may be new, do not believe it is in perfect shape. Do what’s correct and look it over. Is the floor solid? Is there anything on the floor that would cause you (or the operator) to lose footing? Are the guard rails secure with no give? Is the gate, usually attached to the basket with a chain, in place? Good.

Connecting the electronics. Telehandler manbasket manufacturers may offer different designs; almost all have a similar configuration. Still, it’s a very good idea, especially when starting the day (and starting the day with a new unit) to familiarize yourself with your particular machine and its components. With Merlo, the remote control (RC) box is separate from the manbasket. It is connected at the time of use. There are three steps in getting the manbasket fully operational:

  1. Connect the round cable (check for fraying) from the RC deck to the box itself.
  2. Slide the RC onto its deck; secure the finger locks.
  3. Under the RC deck, move the cabled (check for fraying) junction box; connect it to the boom’s outlet.

Almost there. Make sure the telehandler’s ignition key is in accessory mode.

Manbasket remote control. Personnel safety is always paramount. Merlo has visual and audible warnings in place to ensure the operator is safe at all times. Even if you and other personnel are lift and manbasket pros, every basket brings something to the job. Become familiar with the control box and the available resources of this particular basket.

Are load charts and other important information such as the Buford scale (wind speed and effects), quick operation, and emergency protocol easily accessible for reference? Are there in-depth manbasket instructions somewhere on the basket?

On the left side of the Merlo RC is the “Safety Stick.” It is designed to disengage the box after 5 seconds of no reaction. Raise the stick. You have 5 seconds to create an action. If nothing happens, you will need to cycle through again. This safety feature’s design means the stick cannot be zip-tied into place.

Look for: Where will the harnesses connect? Do all the switches, buttons, and lights work? What does each do? Are the emergency stop buttons functioning? What is the basket reaction to each command?

Walk around completed? Everything checks out? Place the telehandler where it needs to be, engage the stabilizers, lift the “Safety Stick,” and push the start engine button. Lift the stick again, engage the manbasket motion of your choice, and safely go to work.


When a Merlo telehandler is purchased with a manbasket, it arrives preprogrammed for that basket. If the basket is added later, a diagnostic box is needed to pair the basket with the telehandler. 

About the author:

Brian Hatch is the service training manager with AMS-Merlo, importer and distributor of Merlo telehandlers. Susan Doyle is with the AMS-Merlo marketing department. For more, visit

Modern Contractor Solutions, September 2020
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