OSHA expects a signaling device to know and understand every type of signal used on a construction site.

The signal person is one of the most important roles on a construction site where a crane is in use.

The qualified signal transmitter prevents accidents, ensures that the load is lifted and set down properly and keeps everyone safely on the ground. The relationship between the crane operator and the signaler is key to a successful lift.

“Signalers are essentially the eyes and ears of crane operators and play a critical role in conducting operations,” said Carmen Zajicek of Crane Warning Systems, Atlanta, Georgia.

“Proper signaling and communication are critical to preventing crane accidents,” she wrote in a blog post for the company that provides sales, service and support for Rayco Wylie crane indicators. “Crane operators are expected to move loads by adhering to a set code of signals using the help of qualified and trained signaling personnel.”

The importance of a signal person is increased during critical lifting operations where the crane operator’s view is obstructed and loads are moved solely on the basis of signals, added Zajicek.

Radio systems are regularly used for communication between the crane operator and the ground staff, including the signal transmitter. They are often used for signal calls, although systems can malfunction.

Hand signals are instant and highly effective in noisy environments, said Christie Lagowski, communications manager at Columbus McKinnon, Getzville, NY

“It is the responsibility of the supervisor to implement all possible measures that increase safety and productivity.”

Qualified for the call

The signal person must be trained and qualified for this function. Only one signaling device can take over the line at a time. If the elevator requires two signal transmitters that swap tasks, the responsible person must clearly identify himself.

“The crane operator can only follow one signal transmitter at a time and must obey given signals under all circumstances,” says Zajicek.

OSHA expects a signaling device to know and understand every type of signal used on a construction site. He must be able to use show of hands.

“When working as an interlocking in a facility or on construction sites, especially when it is heavily frequented, it is crucial to understand and use the crane operator’s hand signals,” says Lagowski, outlining the requirements for a qualified interlocking.

“These people need to know all the signals for mobile, tower and bridge cranes and have a basic understanding of crane operation,” she said.

Boards identifying these hand signals must be placed on equipment or conspicuously near lifting operations.

“If changes are made to signals, these must be coordinated between the crane operator, elevator manager and signal person and must not conflict with the standard signals,” she added.

Before working on the project, the signal person must undergo an assessment by a qualified internal or external appraiser. The signaling device must prove its knowledge by means of oral, written or practical tests.

The signal transmitter must understand the operation and limits of the crane, including the dynamics of lifting, swinging, deflecting the boom, stopping and lowering loads.

In addition, the signal person must always keep an eye on the crane operator and the entire construction site. He or she should have a commanding voice.

In its safety function, the signal transmitter must ensure that people are outside the crane area and must never allow loads to be swiveled directly over people.

“A signal person is required if the operating point is not completely in the operator’s field of vision or if the crane operator’s view of the direction of travel of the device or the load is obstructed,” says the Crane Inspection & Certification Bureau (CICB.). ).

Why a qualification makes sense

A skilled signaling technician understands the concepts of speed, clarity, noise and distance when working around a crane, Zajicek said.

A skilled signaling technician knows that reliance on hand signals greatly reduces the likelihood of miscommunication. He or she has the ability to communicate messages faster than speech.

“Anyone who takes on the role of a qualified signaling staff should be aware of certain responsibilities that come with the job,” says a blog post by Certified Slings.

A qualified signal person is not only required for normal crane work, but also whenever a crane operator does not have a clear view or has the feeling that his lifting range is impaired.

But, added the Casselberry, Fla., Company, “To be on the safe side, crane operators often go way beyond that by hiring a qualified signal person for situations that may not even seem threatening.”

The elevator manager on the construction site must appoint a qualified signal person in front of the elevator. Only one person can give signals while the crane is in operation, unless it is an emergency stop – then anyone on the construction site can give the signal, said Lagowski of Columbus McKinnon.

“As soon as the qualified signal person has been identified, the signal person and the crane operator must identify each other before they can give signals.”

The signals should be continuous while the crane is in operation, she said. If a signal is not understood at any point in time, if it is unclear, disturbed or inaudible, the crane operator must stop the movement and not react.

When issuing signals, all signs should be from the operator’s point of view. “For example, to swing to the left, the signal person would extend their right arm so that the operator would swing to the left.”

In addition to hand signals, voice signals can also be used. Speech signals must have a direction or function, speed or distance; and stop command of the previous function, said Lagowski.

“For example, a voice command could be like: ‘Raise 3m, 6m, 9m. Stop! Swing 90 degrees to the right, slow, slow, stop! Lower 3m, 6m, 9m stop!'”

She wrote that when communicating with more than one crane, a procedure or system must be put in place to recognize which crane the signal is for.

“This helps avoid confusion for the crane operator and makes it easy to see which crane should respond.”

Selection of a qualified appraiser

As CICB points out, there are many training programs for the qualification of signal persons. There are also many third party qualifying organizations in the industry. Be picky about your choice.

“Look for a training company whose curriculum highlights the roles and responsibilities of a signal person, proper understanding of hand signals, and knowledge of voice-activated and audible signals,” blogged CICB, Orlando, Florida.

A training company that is familiar with crane operations and rigging basics, with an emphasis on rigging inspection, load handling, and how factors such as wind, load and boom deflection and slewing speed can affect load handling and crane operation, is critical.

Are you looking for an organization that applies the latest ASME and OSHA standards and regulations, including the “new” code for work around power lines, as well as interactive, hands-on training, coupled with quizzes and tests, suggested CICB.

“Remember that correctly given hand signals reduce accidents, lost days and save lives.”

Online training organization e-Training Inc. suggests starting with the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) for information on what it takes to become a qualified signal person.

NCCCO offers a five-part written certification test that includes hand signals, voice communication, basic knowledge of crane operation, location awareness, and safety standards and regulations.

Exam parameters, which can be found on the NCCCO Certification Programs website, include the candidate’s observation of the crane and demonstration of the ability to provide the necessary hand and voice signals.

Certified Slings said that in order to work with cranes on a regular basis, all qualified signaling personnel must be familiar with the details of OSHA requirements and be aware of all of the signals they may encounter in their area.

“You should also take the time to learn other signals that are not normally associated with crane work,” said the rigging and hardware manufacturer’s blog post.

“In addition, qualified signalers should demonstrate the ability to understand and understand what each one means.”

According to OSHA regulations, there should also be an understanding of what goes into the overall crane operating process.

“While some may just learn about a crane’s capacity limitations, a skilled signaling technician should expand their knowledge base to include all aspects of crane operation from load height to range of motion,” the blog said.

On its website, Certified Slings lists a number of basic hand signals that any qualified signal person should memorize, starting with the most common signals that appear at work.

The stop movement (one arm stretched out horizontally and waved to the side with the palm down) can be accompanied by an emergency stop signal (same form of the stop movement, but with both arms).

When it comes to moving the crane itself, additional steps are required, according to Certified Slings. The standard hand signals that dictate crane movement include:

  • Raise the signal – To lift the boom, one arm is stretched out to the side with the thumb upwards.
  • Lower signal – The thumb of the extended arm points down to indicate that the boom needs to be lowered.
  • Stroke signal – The upward pointing index finger of a single, raised arm draws small circles to raise.
  • Swing signal – a horizontally outstretched arm and forefinger point in the direction in which the boom should swing.

“All of these signals are seen on a normal crane operating day. From then on, the signals get more complicated, ”says the blog post.

Additional signaling information

The position of a skilled signal person may seem like a lonely job, but it depends on a whole team to keep it safe, Certified Slings said. “Before starting work, every crane team should have their own plan. Every detail should be understood and memorized by every team member.”

At the construction site, the entire area should be checked daily for obstructions that could prevent the visibility of hand signals. If something appears to be problematic, all work should be stopped until the problem can be resolved.

Finally, Certified Slings emphasized that if someone feels unsafe while using a crane, he or she should always report the problem to his or her team and all supervisors. “The details should be noted and dealt with immediately. If the signaler believes that correct action has not been taken, he or she can report the complaint to OSHA officials.” CQ