Crane Hand Signals

One of the most important points of focus for Dependable Crane is on safety. When thinking about safety, one of the most important aspect is crane signals. Our Sacramento crane rental company ensures safety by providing highly trained professionals. One of the most important professionals is the signal man, who is responsible for signaling the crane and providing different orders pertaining to the life. These signals must clearly convey what the crane operator is to do in order to ensure that they are able to have successful communication, both fully understanding how to engage with the current job.

Obviously, a person that is operating a boom truck is likely to have limited abilities in terms of hearing. Thus, hand signals are absolutely critical for determining the method of operation. The signal man will provide a wide variety of signals including letting the crane operator know when to raise or lower the boom, use the whipline, swing, extend the boom, or many other important aspects of operating a crane. Effective communication is absolutely key for ensuring safety of the crew on the job site. As a Sacramento crane rental, Dependable Crane has an excellent track record of safety largely due to the efficiency of our ability to provide excellent communication during the job.

Importance of Communication

During a job, there are a variety of tasks that need to be accomplished. However, the boom truck operator does not work alone. They do not have the full range of sight needed to complete the task at hand. Thus, the signal man serves as the prominent person instructing the hydraulic crane operator, ensuring that they complete the necessary tasks at the appropriate time. The importance of the signal man is that they are able to fully assess this situation and provide clear instructions to the crane operator.

While radios certainly can be a valuable tool for relaying messages, there are situations where crane operators need extra assistance. The reality is that construction sites can be quite loud, which makes it very difficult to convey information in an efficient way. The reality that a crane operator’s vision may be obstructed means there are types of situations where the operator and workers may have a risk of injury. Thus, the communication between the signal person and the crane operator are absolutely critical to ensure that the job gets done in an orchestrated manner that ensures the highest degree of safety. Below are some common examples of crane hand signals. When you look for a crane rental near me, the services you find should utilize these gestures in order to enhance the overall safety.


Raise Boom

Extending the arm outwards while making a closed fist with the thumb pointed outwards is the sign for raising the boom. In other words, this tells the crane operator to raise the long arm of the crane. 


The lower boom command can be demonstrated by the signal man extending his arm outwards and pointing their thumb downward with a closed fist. This signals to lower the long arm of the crane. 


The signal for swinging the boom involves extending an arm outward while pointing with the index finger in the direction that a boom should swing. In other words, this is a relatively easy signal to communicate the direction in which to swing the boom.


Use the main hoist command is a signal used to indicate to the operator that he should begin using his main hoist line for the subsequent lifts.  


A load signal that is essentially the opposite of the hoist load signal, here the person will extend their arm horizontally, while placing their index finger towards the ground. They will use that index finger to make circular motions, indicating the need to lower the load. 

Raise the Boom and Lower the Load

Here, the signal man will extend their arm outwards while pointing their thumb upwards. As they do so, they will also open and close their other fingers. This indicates to raise the boom and lower the load, a combination command that ensures the crane works within safe operating limits.


This is a signal that occurs when the signal man places both hands together with the space between the thumb and the first finger touching.  This would indicate that the operator should engage the dogs or paws.

Emergency Stop

An important signal is the emergency stop. In this signal, the signal man will extend both of their arms horizontally away from the body with both palms faced down. They will then swing both arms back and forth. The goal is to immediately stop any other commands.

Move Slowly

An important safety feature that illustrates the need to slow the rate of movement, this occurs when the signal man places their hand above the hand that is giving the actions signal. This indicates that the action occurring needs to move in a slow demeanor.

Use Main Hoist

The sign to use the main hoist involves the signal man tapping a fist on their hand. Next, they will use regular signals to provide further instruction. In other words, the initial signal is which hoist to use followed by other signals.

Use Whipline

To use the whipline, the signal man will first use their hand to tap their elbow. Following that, they will use regular signals to note what to do with the whipline.

Final Thoughts

When on a job site, safety should by the foremost concern for crane operators. Due to the difficulty hearing commands at the job site through other methods, one of the most important aspects for crane operators is the use of hand signals. When you search for a crane operator near me, you need to ensure that they are properly trained in the different signals. Most reputable boom truck operators such as Dependable Crane have staff that are extensively trained in hand signals and other aspects of safety. These hand signals ultimately serve as a reliable albeit fairly low-tech way of avoiding accidents through clear communication.


To ensure optimal safety, all lifts should involve a qualified signal person with knowledge of the common signals. The signal person and operator should agree on signals before beginning, the signal person should always maintain clear visual contact with the operator, and operators should immediately stop all movement if they lose sight of the signal person. Finally, a signal man should always have high visibility clothing, something particularly important when operating at night. Adhering to these standards will help ensure that crane hand signals are used appropriately to ensure the overarching safety of all individuals on a particular job. As always, safety is the most important aspect on a job site.