CSM logo - horizontal

Hand Signaling Safety Talk

When should the crane operator follow hand signals?

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.

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.

What are examples of some common hand signals?

Hoist: With forearm vertical, forefinger pointing up, move the hand in a small horizontal circle.

Lower: With an arm extended downward, forefinger pointing down, move the hand in small horizontal circles.

Multiple Trolleys: Hold up one finger for block marked “1” and two fingers for a block marked “2.” Regular signals follow.

Bridge Travel: Arm extended forward, hand open and slightly raised, make a pushing motion in direction of travel.

Trolley Travel: Palm up, fingers closed, thumb pointing in direction of motion, jerk the hand horizontally.

Stop: Arm extended, palm down, hold the position rigidly.

Emergency Stop: Arm extended, palm down, move the hand rapidly right and left.

Magnet Is Disconnected! : Crane operator spreads both hands apart, palms up.

Dog Everything: Clasp hands in front of the body. Means PAUSE. This signal can be used on potentially risky occasions such as when it has started raining, when the load doesn’t fit the space for which it was planned, or when a bystander gets too close to the action.

What are some common hand signals for crawler, truck and locomotive cranes?

Use Main Hoist: Tap fists on head; then use regular signals.

Use Whip Line (Auxiliary Hoist): Tap elbows with one hand; then use regular signals.

Raise Boom: Arm extended, fingers closed, thumb pointing upward.

Lower Boom: Arm extended, fingers closed, thumb pointing downward.

Swing: Point with a finger in direction of swing of a boom.

Raise the Boom and Lower the Load: Arm extended, fingers closed, thumb pointing upward, other arm bent slightly with forefinger pointing down and rotate hand in horizontal circles.

Lower the Boom and Raise the Load: Arm extended, fingers closed, thumb pointing downward, other arm with forearm vertical, forefinger pointing upward and rotate the hand in horizontal circles.

Move Slowly: Use one hand to give any motion signal and place the other hand motionless in front of the hand giving the motion signal. (Hoist Slowly shown as example.)

Retract Boom (Telescoping Booms): Both fists in front of body with thumbs pointing toward each other.

Extend Boom (Telescoping Booms): Both fists in front of body with thumbs pointing outward.

What are some signals for crawler cranes only?

Lock Track: this side as indicated by raised fist.

Turn Travel Track: this side in direction shown by revolving fist.

Travel Both Tracks: forward or backward by revolving fists.



This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for information purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. The information material does not amend the provisions of any insurance policy issued by CompSource Mutual. It is not a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy provisions, and any applicable law.

Meet Our Safety Team

Related Safety Resources