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Crane Hand Signals - OSHA Crane Signals

Updated on June 19, 2015
mobile Crane hand signals chart
mobile Crane hand signals chart

Crane Hand signals are very crucial for safe and more efficient crane operations at any work place. Relying on hand signals means the high noise levels at most industrial and construction sites don’t interfere with critical communication.

Also the human hand can form a complex signal faster than the human tongue can get out even a single syllable. So Hand signals are widely used for faster communication between operator and signalman.

When the crane operator's visibility of the load is low and not able to see the complete path of the load or not able to see the landing area, the signalman comes into the picture.

The duty of the signalman is to effectively communicate with the crane operator and try to complete the job quickly as he becomes the eyes of the crane operator. There are some standard Crane hand signals approved by the OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) which are used the same way all over the world.

If you are in the job of Signalman or Crane Operator, you need to understand these crane hand signals effectively and apply them as needed. You can see the complete list of International Crane Signals in the chart given below which will be very helpful in crane operations. All of these hand signals for Crane are explained in detail as below:

osha hand signals for crane
osha hand signals for crane
  • Hoist Load: With forearm vertical forefinger pointing up, move hand in a small horizontal circle
  • Lower Load: With forearm vertical forefinger pointing down, move hand in a horizontal circle
  • Main Hoist: Tap fist on Head and then use regular signals
  • Use Whipline(Auxiliary Hoist) : Tap elbow with one hand and then use normal signals
  • Raise Boom: Arm extended, fingers closed and thumb pointing upwards
  • Lower Boom: Arm extended, fingers closed and thumb pointing downwards
  • Move Slowly: Use one hand to give any motion signal and place the other hand motionless in front of the hand giving the signal
  • Raise Boom & Lower load : Arm extended, thumb pointing up, flex fingers in and out as long as the load movement is desir
  • Lower Boom & Raise Load : Arm extended, thumb pointing down, flex fingers in and out as long as the load movement is desired
  • Swing: With extended arm, point the finger in the direction of the swing of boom
  • Stop: Arm extended with palm down, move arm back and forth horizontally
  • Emergency Stop: Both Arms extended with palms down, move arms back and forth horizontally
  • Travel: With arm extended, forward hand open and slightly raised, make pushing motion in direction of travel
  • Dog Everything : Clasp hands in front of the body
  • Travel (both tracks): Use both fists in front of body making a circular motion about each other indicating direction of travel forward or backward
  • Travel (One track): Lock the track on side indicated by raised fist. travel opposite track in direction indicated by circualar motion of the other fist rotating in front of the body
  • Extend Boom (telescoping booms) : Both fists in front of the body with thumbs pointing outward
  • Retract Boom (telescoping booms) : Both fists in front of the body with thumbs pointing toward each other
  • Extend Boom (One hand): One fist in front thumb pointing up and tapping the chest
  • Retract Boom (One hand): One fist in front of chest with thumb pointing outward and heet of fist tapping the chest

Well, just remembering these Mobile Crane hand signals only does not fulfill your job as signalman, you need to follow these guidelines also for work safety:

  • Alyways pay attention to how the crane and load moves when the operator follows your signals.
  • Prior to making the lifts you should discuss the signals and the lift path with the operator
  • Always keep your hand away from your body so that the operator have a better view and can see it clearly.
  • Maintain a clear view of the operator, load and entire load path
  • Prior to lifting or setting a load make sure that everyone is ready
  • You can also use a middleman to transfer signals to the operator if it is not possible for one person to see everything (radios can also be used)


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    • profile image


      3 months ago

      I can’t help to break out in a funk dance once I’ve practiced a few signals.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      This is so cool! I've seen people using these and always wondered what each sign means. Now I know! Voted up and useful :D


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