Workplace Safety: The Importance of Crane Hand Signals
Large-scale construction sites are inherently hazardous places. The tools, equipment, materials, and often the sites themselves present safety challenges that must be constantly kept in mind. At a given site, multiple crews may be working at the same time, making coordination and communication difficult. The sheer noise of a construction site makes voice communication impractical, and when heavy equipment such as cranes are present, clear, precise communication becomes an even more urgent priority.
To meet this challenge, crane operators rely on hand signals from ground crew to direct their movements. This system provides a layer of safety that is absolutely critical, because the person providing hand signals typically has a range of visibility and awareness of ground activity that is not available to the crane operator.
Obviously, it’s important for the crane operator to know these signals—but it’s also important that other members of the construction team know the signals as well. Here’s an infographic of the most important crane hand signals, and a handy downloadable card version that you can print out and keep in your pocket.
Crane Hand Signals
Single arm extended to the side, palm down, swinging back and forth.
Both arms extended out horizontally, palms down, swinging back and forth.
DOG EVERYTHING (PAUSE)
Both hands clasped together at waist level.
One arm extended horizontally, closed fist, thumb up.
One arm extended horizontally, closed fist, thumb down.
One arm extended horizontally, finger extended in preferred direction.
EXTEND TELESCOPING BOOM
Hands at waist level, closed fists, thumbs pointing outward.
Hands at waist level, fists closed, thumbs pointing inward.
One arm extended vertically with index finger pointing up making small circles.
One arm down at side, with finger pointing down making small circles.
Both hands extended horizontally to one side, one over the other, bottom hand indicating speed desired.
RAISE BOOM, LOWER LOAD
One arm extended horizontally, thumb up, other fingers repeatedly opening and closing.
LOWER BOOM, RAISE LOAD
One arm extended horizontally, thumb down, other fingers repeatedly opening and closing.