Overhead Crane Hand Signals

To ensure crane operation safety, the operator must understand crane operator hand signals. Crane operation requires very careful attention, both on the operator’s part and that of the signal personal. Signals are important for proper crane operation.

Misunderstanding the signal, or using the wrong signal, can result in dropping the cargo, damaging the crane, and potentially even causing injury to people. It is useful and necessary to know a basic set of signals.

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This article is about details of various signals. Workers or crew on the site use these signals to ensure safe manner and minimize accidents at work. Read trough the article seriously, learn about the different hand signals.

Hoist

To hoist, or raise the load, the signaler stands with his/her right arm bent 90 degrees upward. From there, the signaler points his/her finger upward and and turns it around from the elbow in a counter-clockwise motion.

Attention: with forearm vertical, forefinger pointing up, move hand in small horizontal circles.

Lower

Lowering the load is where the signaler places his/her right arm pointing straight downward to the side by the hip, points the finger off to the right, and turns the finger around from the elbow in a counter-clockwise fashion.

Attention: with arm extended downward, forefinger pointing down, move hand in small horizontal circles.

Use main hoist

There are going to be occasions when the main hoist is necessary for its greater strength. In these instances, the signaler cocks their right arm outward and bends their elbow outward, which allows the signaler to tap on their hard hat with their closed hand as if they were knocking on a door.

Attention: tap fist on head; then use regular signals.

Use whip line (auxiliary hoist)

On some occasions, the whip line or fast line may be preferable to the main hoist. To signal using the whip line, the signaler places his/her left arm horizontally across the front of the body, palm upward. The signaler then makes a forward-facing fist with the right hand, and puts the right elbow into his/her left palm in front of themselves.

Attention: tap elbow with one hand; then use regular signals.

Raise boom

To raise the boom, the signaler begins with the right arm outstretched to the side. From there, the signaler points the thumb upward.

Attention: arm extended, finger closed, thumb pointing upward.

Lower boom

To lower the boom is the reversal of the signal to raise the boom. The signaler begins with the right arm outstretched to the side. From there, they point their thumb downwards.

Attention: arm extended, finger closed, thumb pointing downward.

Lower the boom and raise the load

Lowering the boom while raising the load involves a similar signal to the previous boom lowering signal. The signaler begins with the right arm outstretched to the side, and the thumb pointing downward. The signaler then opens and closes the hand, extending and retracting the fingers repeatedly, to indicate this dual motion.

Attention: arm extended, fingers closed, thumb pointing downward, other arm with forearm vertical, forefinger pointing upward and rotate hand in horizontal circles.

Raise the boom and lower the load

Raising the boom while lowering the load is also similar to its original boom raising motion. The signaler begins the operation by extending the right arm outward to the side, and extending the thumb upward. From there, the signaler extends and retracts the fingers of the right hand, to indicate the dual motion required of the crane.

Attention: arm extended, fingers closed, thumb pointing upward, other arm bent slightly with forefinger pointing down and rotate hand in horizontal circles.

Move slowly

Moving with caution should be the default method at all times, but sometimes additional slowness is required of the crane operator. In this instance, the signaler begins by extending the left arm across his/her body at the neck line. From there, the signaler places the right elbow on the side of the body, with one finger pointed upward at a roughly 45 degree angle. From there the signaler begins to move his/her right hand and outstretched finger in a counter-clockwise motion.

Attention: use one hand to give any motion signal and place other hand motionless in front of hand giving the motion signal. (Hoist slowly shown as example.)

Swing

It can be necessary to turn or swing the crane. In these instances, the signaler extends the right arm straight outward to the side, with the palm facing downward.

Attention: extend arms horizontally, with finger pointing in the direction of the boom.

Extend boom

The boom or primary arm of the crane, must sometimes be extended for its reach. In some cases the boom can be extended independently of lowering or raising it. When the boom must be extended, the signaler places his/her closed hands on either side of their body at hip height, with both thumbs facing outward.

Attention: both fists in the front of body, with thumb pointing outward.

Retract boom

Retracting the boom can often exert greater leverage with better stability than when the boom is extended. When the boom must be retracted, the signaler places their closed hands at around waist height, with thumbs pointing inward toward their body.

Attention: both fists in front of body, with thumb pointing toward each other.

Travel

When the crane trolley needs to move along its bridge, the signal to travel is used. The signaler stands sideways to the operator’s view facing in the direction the crane needs to travel, and puts up the hands as if to push the crane in the intended direction.

Attention: arms bent at the elbows, fists clenched, rotate both forearms around each other, then point in the direction of travel.

Hold everything

Hold everything, or pause, can be useful if the situation changes, if there is a need for further instructions, or if there is the potential for danger. The signal for dog everything is to place the signaler’s hands clasped in front of the stomach.

Attention: clasp hands in front of body.

Stop

To signal stop, the signaler bends his/her elbow with the upper arm extended, palm down, and rhythmically extends and retracts their hand to a fully extended arm out to the side. Emergency stop is the same, only with both arms.

Attention: arm extended, palm down, move arm back and forth horizontally.