Hand Signals

History
Signaling is communicating with the hands. People have been using their hands to communicate since the beginning of time. The existence of sign language has been recorded back as far as the fifth century BC. Modern day rigging hand signals evolved through necessity.

What Are The Advantages?
Hand signals require no fancy or expensive communication equipment. Because they are visual they are virtually unmistakable. Because they are universal, there exists no language barrier.

Does OSHA Have Required Hand Signals?
OSHA does not prescribe specific hand signals but states that,

“Hand signals to crane and derrick operators shall be those prescribed by the applicable ANSI standard for the type of crane in use. An illustration of the signals shall be posted at the job site.” (Reference 29 CFR 1926.550).

The Standard
The American National Standards Institute, ANSI for short, publishes non-mandatory standards that are almost always universally adopted. Standard ANSI/ASME B30.5 states that an individual titled the Lift Director shall directly oversee the work performed by a crane and the associated rigging crew. The Lift Director is responsible for appointing the signalperson and for insuring that the signalperson is qualified. (The Lift Director is also responsible for insuring that the load is properly rigged). The standard shows eighteen distinct signals showing the position of the signaler’s hands, fingers, arms and body. The standard hand signals can be viewed at,

http://www.msha.gov/accident_prevention/tips/handsignals.pdf

What Are The Major Hand Signals?

  • Emergency stop – Extend both arms, turn palms down, move arms back and forth horizontally
  • Stop – Extend one arm, turn palm down, move arm back and forth horizontally
  • Hoist - With forearm vertical and forefinger pointing up, move hand in small horizontal circles
  • Lower - With arm extended down and forefinger pointing down, move hand in small horizontal circles
  • Use main hoist - Tap the fist on the hardhat and then use regular signals
  • Use auxiliary hoist (whip line) - Tap one elbow with one hand and then use regular signals
  • Raise boom - Extended an arm and close the fingers, point the thumb up
  • Lower boom - Extend and arm and close the fingers, point the thumb down
  • Move slowly - Use one hand to give motion signal and place the other hand motionless in front of the hand providing the motion signal
  • Raise the boom and lower the load - With an arm extended and the thumb pointing up, flex the fingers in and out as long as load movement is desired
  • Swing – Extend an arm and point a finger in the direction of the swing of the boom
  • Travel – Extend the arm forward and with the hand open and slightly raised, make a pushing motion in the direction of travel
  • ◦ Cease all activity (dog everything) – Clasp both hands in front of the body

What Are Some Guidelines Regarding Hand Signaling?

  • All lifts should employ a signalman using standard hand signals
  • All signalmen must be qualified
  • The signalman must always be in clear view of the crane operator
  • ◦he signalman must always maintain visual contact of the load and the hoisting equipment ◦ The signalman must act as the safety watch to keep the lift site free of unauthorized personnel
  • There should be only one designated signalman for each lift
  • The signaler should wear distinctive clothing