Safety Series: Hand Signals for Cranes

Whomever is in charge of any crane or hoist operations (contractor, foreman, superintendent) he or she must ensure that a fully competent, qualified and experienced signal person is assigned to work with the crane for as long as it is working within their area of responsibility.

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  1. Know and understand the type(s) of signals that will be used
  2. Competent in the application of the type of signals used
  3. Have a basic understanding of equipment operation and limitations, crane dynamics, and boom deflection

This applies to construction activites that involve cranes, derricks, and powered industrial trucks which have been configured to hoist and lower by means of a winch or hook.


  1. Point of operation is not in full view of operator
  2. View of direction of travel is obstructed
  3. Site-specific safety concerns it to be necessary
  4. Working near energized power lines and with a dedicated spotter is used, this spotter must also be a qualified signal person

Communication between the crane operator and the signal person shall be maintained continuously during all crane movements. If at any time communication is disrupted, the operator shall stop all crane movements until communication is restored and a proper signal is given and understood.

Get your signals straight. Appoint one member of the crew to act as a signal person and instruct the crane operator not to accept signals from anyone else. The signal person must not order a move until getting an all ready” from each crew member. Each worker must be in the clear before giving an all ready” to the signal person. If you must hold on to the chain, sling, or choker to maintain tension, be sure your hands and feet are out of the way of pinch points before giving an all ready.” Always check for overhead power lines.