The Signaler and Crane Operator Relationship

It can be an extremely difficult task to operate a crane with the precision needed to ensure loads are picked up and dropped off without causing any damage to the environment or people around it. Which is why having a strong signaler and crane operator relationship is key in crane safety.

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Overhead Crane

Related: Overhead Cranes, How to Extend the Life of Your Crane and Hoists

It can be an extremely difficult task to operate a crane with the precision needed to ensure loads are picked up and dropped off without causing any damage to the environment or people around it. For the operator, it may even be difficult  to see the item in question or to be able to know where the hook is relative to where the load is. That is why having well developed signaler and crane operator relationship is so important.

Though often times crane and hoist hand signals are universal, sometimes how they come across can differ with each person and it is important that the crane operator both understands what the signaler is trying to convey but that they also trust them in what they are saying. Trust between these two individuals is imperative in ensuring that loads are lifting and dropped off efficiently and effectively. Often times a signaler is required by law if the operator’s view of an intended path of travel is obstructed in any way.

 

Who Can Be a Signaler?

Crane signalers are qualified individuals who are trained to give crane signals to the crane operator. There should only be one signaler at a given time, and if two signalers are changing between each other, the one who is in charge needs to have some from of identification, such as a badge. In addition, a crane operator should only move loads with signals form one signaler. Though is important to note that a crane operator must obey STOP signals no matter who gives it.

Signalers need to always be in clear view of the crane operator, in addition to being able to have a clear view of the load and the equipment. They should also be able to keep people outside of the crane’s operating area – so having an authoritative voice is key. In addition they need to ensure that they NEVER direct a load over a person.

In addition the crane signaler should understand the operations and limitations of the machine that they are signaling, this includes understanding how this particular crane swings, raises and lowers loads, how it stops loads and the boom deflection. This knowledge will not only help to ensure the signaler is giving proper and relevant signals, but can also help build a trust between crane operator and signaler, as the operator will not have to second guess every signal given to them.

While often times a radio and other electronic communications with an operator are available, and may be used, also using hand signals is important to ensure that communication can continue seamlessly if something were to happen to the communications device.

 

Mobile Crane Signals

Mobile Crane Signalsimage_06-12bPhoto Source

Overhead Crane Signals

Overhead Crane Signals   Photo Source

Benefits of Using Hand Signals

Some of the most valuable benefits of hand signals include: clarity, speed, distance and noise. With the use of hand signals the chances of miscommunication decrease significantly and having visual signals are immediate and a skilled signaler often develops the ability to signal faster then a person can speak. In addition often times there can be a delay in communications when using a radio system, where hand signals are often instantaneous and cranes often are in operation in highly noisy areas, which cause employees to wear ear plugs, as hand signals require no noise the signaler and crane operator are able to communicate without needing to remove their safety equipment.

Having a highly developed and trusting crane opperator and signaler relationship is imperative to not only ensuring loads are safely moved throughout your facility, but also to ensure the safety of people near the crane. Ensure that your crane signalers are following proper guidelines and are kept up to date on your cranes and how they move in order to be able to give correct hand signals, and ensure that your crane operators are able to trust the signals given to them. If the relationship between these to individuals deteriorates ensure that steps are taken to resolve the issue, or else mistakes may be made.

Sources:

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/Materials_handling/signals.html

http://www.craneserviceinc.com/rigging-signal-person-training/crane-operator-hand-signals-guide

https://work.alberta.ca/SearchAARC/1021.html

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