Material Handling: Crane Hand Signals You Should Know

Material Handling: Crane Hand Signals You Should Know

Working with heavy machinery puts a damper on communication at a construction site because the equipment is very large and extremely loud. Workers use hand signals to communicate when they cannot be verbal on the job site. You and other workers must remain safe when handling materials, and one of the best ways to do that is by learning the following hand signals.

Stop Signals

You can use the following two signals when you need the equipment operator to stop and cease movement. To signal for a stop, extend one arm (palm down) out and parallel with the ground, swing your arm towards your chest and back out parallel to the ground, bending your elbow as you make the motion. To signal for an emergency stop, make the same gesture but with both arms (creating a T with your body), open and close your arms to your chest, palms facing down the entire time.

Boom and Load Signals

Boom and load signals help the operator when operating machines, like pallet lifting equipment, to raise and lower their boom to lift and move loads. To signal the boom needs to rise, extend one arm parallel to the ground with a downward pointing thumb. To signal the boom should descend, extend the same arm outward, but instead of using fingers, close your hand into a fist.

The signals are different raising or lowering equipment carrying a load. To raise a load, lift one arm above your head, pointing your pointer finger upward, and make small circular clockwise motions. To lower a load, extend the arm down, point to the ground, and make the same small clockwise motions.

Travel Signals

You should know these travel hand signals when the equipment operator needs to move the crane to a different location on the job site. To signal your operator to travel, extend both arms in front of your body, palms open (almost in a “stopping” motion). Slowly push your hands in and away from your body in the direction you need the machine to go.

While there are countless other hand signals to utilize on the job site, these are the main ones to watch out for. Other signals are for pausing work, trolley travel, and telescoping in and out. To ensure employees are safe in construction, they must use these hand signals.

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