If you’re going to working with any form of tower crane you had best know your hand signals to ensure safe and effective communications.
A crane operator should always move loads according to the established code of signals, and use a signaler. Hand signals are preferred and commonly used. A signaler may be required by law if the operator’s view of the intended path of travel is obstructed.
Who can give the hand signals? or Who can be a signaler?
- A person qualified to give crane signals to the operator.
- There should be only one designated signaler at a time.
- If signalers are changing between each other, the one in charge should wear a clearly visible badge of authority.
- A crane operator should move loads only on signals from one signaler.
- A crane operator must obey STOP signals no matter who gives it.
What should you do when in charge of signaling?
The signaler must:
- Be in clear view of the crane operator.
- Have a clear view of the load and the equipment.
- Keep persons outside the crane’s operating area.
- Never direct a load over a person.
Importantly, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that anyone designated as a signal person must meet certain qualifications and be evaluated by a qualified individual. These regulations and a commitment to standardized signals have helped reshape the landscape of crane safety, with crane-related deaths falling to their lowest recorded level in 2017 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Below, we have a visual guide to basic crane hand signals, including a few signals that are particular to telescopic, crawler and tower cranes. In any case, crane hand signals are an essential part of operating a crane whether using a small carry deck crane or a larger all-terrain crane—these signals are even used with the largest cranes in the world. Some crane rentals also include operators and a signal person in the cost.
Download our new “Tower Crane Hand Signals” chart here.