How To Use Crane Hand Signals

Download: Mobile Crane Hand Signal Chart

When To Use Crane Hand Signals

Hand signals are the preferred and most commonly used method of communicating with a crane operator. All crane operators should be familiar with an established code of signals, and use a signaler. Signals indicate to the crane operator what load movements are required. A large chart graphically and legibly illustrating and explaining the signals used should be posted before any work begins.

The signaler must be in clear view of the crane operator, and have a clear view of the load. If there is any question on the crane operator’s ability to see the signal man or the load, another signal person should be used. Use of a radio is preferred.

Who can be a signal person?

Any qualified person can be the signaler. There should be only one designated signaler at a time. If more than one signal person is required, only one signaler shall be in charge. He should have some prominent indicia (badge, jacket, etc), indicating his role, and the crane operator should only act on signals from him. ANY signaler can give a STOP signal.

Responsibilities of a Signal Person

  • Have a clear view of the load and the operator
  • Allow only authorized people in the crane area
  • Never direct a load over a person
  • Never give more signals than the operator can perform at one time
  • Always give signals to the operator’s right or left
  • Signal clearly; hold their hands away from their body and account for shadows if sunny
  • Use a radio if you cannot clearly see the operator and the load
  • When using a radio, use a dedicated frequency for communication between crane operators
  • The crane operator, and not the signaler, has the ultimate responsibility for moving a load safely

Hand Signal Charts

Recommended Hand Signals by California Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) [pdf]
Recommended Hand Signals by California Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA), part 2 [pdf]