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Hand and Voice Signals on the Job

Hand and Voice Signals on the Job

A crane signal person is essential for all crane operations. From inside the crane booth, an operator’s range of vision and awareness of the environment is significantly limited. Couple this with the serious consequences of a crane accident, and it is easy to see why a having another person with eyes and ears on the ground would be critical for safety and success at the job site. Therefore, knowing the proper hand and voice signals to give the crane operator during a job is of the utmost importance.

Basic Hand and Voice Signals

In order to become certified as a crane signal person, a person must be proficient in hand and voice signals and possess an understanding of crane operations, construction sites, and general safety standards. Here are some of the basic types of signals that a crane signal person is expected to know:

Hoist/Lower Load

These signals tell the crane operator when they should raise or let down their load attached to either the primary hoist or the whipline.

Raise/Lower Boom

To signify that it is safe to raise and lower the crane arm or boom, a worker must extend their arm with an open hand and their thumb pointed up or down. If the operator should at the same time raise or lower the load, they can signal this by curling their fingers inward with their arm and hand in the same position.

Extend/Retract Boom

These hand motions communicate to the operator when to use the telescoping function of the boom by extending or retracting it. There are one-handed and two-handed signals for each action.


A crane signal person must use the right signals to get the crane operator to stop in the right spot, perform an emergency stop in a hazardous situation, and to move the crane into the right position for different parts of the job.

Voice Commands

These must be as brief and efficient as possible, comprising of only essential information. Every voice signal must include the command elements of direction or function, speed or distance, and stopping the function.

Using Signals in Practice

A prospective crane signal person can know all the signals on paper, but the real skill is knowing how to use them in each unique situation. For instance, they might know how to make the crane hoist and stop at a certain height, but if they don’t understand how cranes work and the particular dangers of the job site, these directions could overload the crane and cause an accident. Thorough training and experience at construction sites will go a long way in helping a crane signal person be more prepared for the job.

Having the right training and equipment on a construction site is vital for preventing accidents and saving money. At Florida Wire & Rigging, we know this better than anyone else. That’s why we only carry the most dependable equipment in the industry and provide on-site training seminars to ensure that you are performing actions properly. To learn more about our goods and services, feel free to give us a call at 800-432-2269.