Coordination is the top priority on a Job-site when running a crane. It is also a critical part of getting the job done efficiently, on time, and safely. The communication between the signal person and crane operator is very important. OSHA has made crane hand and arm signals a standard and certifications are required to be a crane operator or signal person.
Hand Signals are designed to be used when job sites are loud and verbal communication is impaired by things on the work-site, like machinery, trucks, jackhammers, etc.
The crane signal person is the eyes and ears of the crane operator. It is their job to instruct the crane operator in safely lifting, moving, and placing the load in the precise location.
The signal person should know all the signals by memory without any visual aids. They should also be up to date on the types of cranes being used on the Job-site. Some cranes have different methods of moving the load and may require a different hand signal.
All signals shown here are motion signals, most times the hand is giving the motion with your arm extended or retracted. Pay attention to the way your thumb is pointing or if your fingers are extended etc.
The first and most important of all crane operator hand signals is the STOP signal. There are three different signals for stop, Emergency Stop, Stop, and Dog Everything. When any of these signals are used the operator will halt the crane.
Emergency Stop Crane Hand Signal - This signal is communicated by the signal person by extending both arms horizontally out from the body with palms down and swinging both arms back and forth from chest out to fully extended. This will tell the operator to Stop Everything.
Stop Crane Hand Signal - The signal person will extend one arm horizontally with the palm down and swing it back and forth from the body to fully extended. This will tell the operator to stop or pause an action.
Dog Everything - Clasp both hands and place at waist level. This will tell the operator to stop all actions and movements.
Boom signals tell the crane operator how to maneuver the boom.
Raise Boom - The signal person is to extend one arm horizontally and with a closed fist point the thumb up. This will tell the operator to raise the boom.
Lower Boom - The signal person is to extend one arm horizontally and with a closed fist point the thumb down. This will tell the operator to lower the boom.
Swing Boom - Extend one arm out horizontally with their index finger pointing out in the direction the signal person wants the boom to swing.
Extend Boom - Place your hands in front of your waist in a fist and point only your thumbs outwards. This will tell the crane operator to extend or lengthen the boom.
Retract Boom - Place your hands in front of your waist in a fist and point only your thumbs inwards toward each other. This will tell the crane operator to retract or shorten the boom.
Once the load has been lifted load signals are used by the signal person to tell the crane operator what to do with the load on the loadline.
Hoist Load - Extend one arm vertically toward the sky or ceiling pointing their index finger up and making small circles with index finger and hand. This will tell the crane operator to lift the load upwards.
Lower Load - Extend one arm vertically down toward the ground or floor pointing their index finger down and making small circles with index finger and hand. This will tell the crane operator to lower the load.
Using speed signals will tell the crane operator to control the pace of the crane action.
Move Slowly - Place one hand above the hand giving the signal. This tells the crane operator to slow the action he is doing or going to do. In this example, the signal is telling the operator to hoist slowly.