What are crane hand signals?

There are many times when a crane operator will be in a position where they can’t easily see the load that they will be working with. In this case, they will have a qualified signal person standing near the load to help provide them guidance. When doing this, the qualified signal person will use a variety of hand and arm gestures to let the operator know what to do. This not only makes it possible to effectively work with the load, but it also dramatically improves the safety of the situation.

Common Crane Hand Signals

The following are among the most commonly used, and most important, crane hand signals that are used by a qualified signal person:

  • Emergency Stop – To perform an emergency stop of all action, the signal person will extend both arms out from the body, palms facing down, arms swinging back and forth.
  • Stop – To have the operator stop an action, the arm of the signal person should be out with the fingers extended. The palm of the hand will be face down. From here, they swing the arm back and forth.
  • Raise Boom – To raise the boom the arm should be extended out to the side with the hand in the ‘thumbs-up’ position.
  • Swing – To swing the boom the arm should be out horizontally, with the index finger pointing in the direction the boom needs to swing.
  • Extend Boom – When the boom needs to be extended out, the signal person will place their hands at their waste, with the thumbs outward.
  • Hoist – Extend one arm vertically, point with the index finger, and make small circles with that finger to tell the operator to hoist the load up.
  • Move Slowly – The signal person should place one hand above the signal hand indicating the action. Having the hand above it indicates that the action should be performed slowly.

These are just the most common crane hand signals. Anyone who wants to be a qualified signal person will need to memorize additional signals as well.


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