Crane Hand Signals

The crane operator is ultimately responsible for all aspects of crane safety; however, he depends upon the qualified crane “signaler” to assist him by being the operator’s eyes and ears on the ground.

Who Calls the Shots?  As with any jobsite activity, it is important that everyone understands who the cast of players involved in the activity is, and who calls the shots?  Nowhere is this more important than in crane and hoisting activities.

OSHA’s Subpart K (Cranes, Derricks, Hoists, Elevators and Conveyors) simply says, “Hand signals to crane and derrick operators shall be those prescribed by the applicable American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for the type of crane in use.”  And OSHA also says:  “An illustration of the signals shall be posted at his (the operator’s) control station.”

ANSI Hand Signals can be found in the ANSI handbook of signals. Below are the eighteen distinct “signals,” showing the position of the signaler’s hands, fingers, arms and body.

  • Hoist—With forearm vertical, forefinger pointing up, move hand in small horizontal circles.
  • Lower—With arm extended downward, forefinger pointing down, move hand in small horizontal circles.
  • Hoist—With forearm vertical, forefinger pointing up, move hand in small horizontal circles.
  • Lower—With arm extended downward, forefinger pointing down, move hand in small horizontal circles.
  • Use Main Hoist—Tap fist on head, then use regular signals.
  • Use Whip Line—(Auxiliary Hoist) Tap one elbow with one hand, then use regular signals.
  • Raise Boom—Arm extended, fingers closed, thumb pointing upward.
  • Lower Boom—Arm extended, fingers closed, thumb pointing downward.
  • Move Slowly—Use one hand to give motion signal, and place other hand motionless in front of hand giving the motion signal (hoist slowly shown as example).
  • Raise the Boom and Lower the Load—With arm extended, thumb pointing up, flex fingers in and out as long as load movement is desired.
  • Lower the Boom and Raise the Load—With arm extended, thumb pointing down, flex fingers in and out as long as load movement is desired.
  • Swing—Arm extended, point with finger in direction of swing of boom.
  • Stop—Arm extended, palm down, move arm back and forth horizontally.
  • Emergency Stop—Both arms extended, palms down, move arms back and forth horizontally.
  • Travel—Arm extended forward, hand open and slightly raised, making pushing motion in direction of travel.
  • Dog Everything—Clasp hands in front of body.
  • Telescoping Boom Two Hands (Extend Boom)—Both fists in front of body with thumbs pointing outward.
  • Telescoping Boom Two Hands (Retract Boom)—Both fists in front of body with thumbs pointing towards each other.
  • Telescoping Boom One Hand (Extend Boom)—One hand signal, put fist in front of chest, with thumb tapping chest.
  • Telescoping Boom One Hand (Retract Boom)—One hand signal, put fist in front of chest, with thumb pointing outward with heel of fist tapping chest.

Quick Recap:

  • It is critical that the entire crew be aware of who the designated signaler is.
  • The designated signaler must be qualified to perform his duty as a signaler.
  • The signaler should wear a distinctive vest, badge or clothing for quick identification.
  • Signaler should always stand in clear view of the crane hoist operating engineer and remain a safe distance from the hook, block, boom or load.
  • If using radios, use a dedicated channel for hoisting operations.
  • Repeat all signals for verifications.
  • Maintain clear of load and crane pathway..
  • ANSI Signal Chart must be posted in crane cab.
  • Pocket ANSI Signal Charts should be available to workers as required.
  • If crane operators and signalers have not worked together before, it is imperative that they communicate and brief one another before starting a hoisting operation.

Additional Information:

You may want to check out this link from Washington State Department of Labor and Industries showing pictures of each signal.

Be Safe – Work Safe – Live for Another Day

Kent

Crane Hand Signals

Poster of Hand Signals for Cranes – PDF

 

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About the author

Kent Leighton, Founder of The Flat Rock Group, has more than 40 years of experience in the Construction and Development Industry. Having owned a successful midsize General Contracting firm he understands the opportunities and trials of running a successful business enterprise. His passion is sharing his victories and his scars with leaders and managers to help them grow and prosper.