Crane News

Crane Operator Hand Signal Guide

TNT Crane & Rigging | Jun 29 / 17

This guide will explain about the various hand signals that workers should use to guide the crane operator

Crane operator hand signal guide: Crane operation requires very careful attention, both on the operator’s part and that of the signal person. Signals are essential for proper crane operation. Misunderstanding the signal, or using the wrong signal for what is needed, can result in dropping the cargo, damaging the crane, and potentially even causing grave injury to people. Everyone on your crew who will be involved with the crane must know a basic set of signals.

This article explains in detail about various signals that workers or crew on the site uses to ensure that the operator works in a safe manner and to minimize accidents at work. Read through the article to learn about the different hand signals that crane operators and associated crew should be aware of.

The definitions and explanation regarding different hand signals for crane operators are as follows:


To hoist, or raise the load, the signaler stands with his/her right arm bent 90 degrees upward. From there, the signaler points his/her finger upward and and turns it around from the elbow in a counter-clockwise motion.


Lowering the load is where the signaler places his/her right arm pointing straight downward to the side by the hip, points the finger off to the right, and turns the finger around from the elbow in a counter-clockwise fashion.

Use Main Hoist

There are going to be occasions when the main hoist is necessary for its greater strength. In these instances, the signaler cocks their right arm outward and bends their elbow outward, which allows the signaler to tap on their hard hat with their closed hand as if they were knocking on a door.

Use Whip Line

On some occasions, the whip line or fast line may be preferable to the main hoist. To signal using the whip line, the signaler places his/her left arm horizontally across the front of the body, palm upward. The signaler then makes a forward-facing fist with the right hand, and puts the right elbow into his/her left palm in front of themselves.

Raise Boom

To raise the boom, the signaler begins with the right arm outstretched to the side. From there, the signaler points the thumb upward.

Lower Boom

To lower the boom is the reversal of the signal to raise the boom. The signaler begins with the right arm outstretched to the side. From there, they point their thumb downwards.

Lower the Boom and Raise the Load

Lowering the boom while raising the load involves a similar signal to the previous boom lowering signal. The signaler begins with the right arm outstretched to the side, and the thumb pointing downward. The signaler then opens and closes the hand, extending and retracting the fingers repeatedly, to indicate this dual motion.

Raise the Boom and Lower the Load

Raising the boom while lowering the load is also similar to its original boom raising motion. The signaler begins the operation by extending the right arm outward to the side, and extending the thumb upward. From there, the signaler extends and retracts the fingers of the right hand, to indicate the dual motion required of the crane.

Move Slowly

Moving with caution should be the default method at all times, but sometimes additional slowness is required of the crane operator. In this instance, the signaler begins by extending the left arm across his/her body at the neck line. From there, the signaler places the right elbow on the side of the body, with one finger pointed upward at a roughly 45 degree angle. From there the signaler begins to move his/her right hand and outstretched finger in a counter-clockwise motion.


It can be necessary to turn or swing the crane. In these instances, the signaler extends the right arm straight outward to the side, with the palm facing downward.

Extend Boom

The boom or primary arm of the crane, must sometimes be extended for its reach. In some cases the boom can be extended independently of lowering or raising it. When the boom must be extended, the signaler places his/her closed hands on either side of their body at hip height, with both thumbs facing outward.

Retract Boom

Retracting the boom can often exert greater leverage with better stability than when the boom is extended. When the boom must be retracted, the signaler places their closed hands at around waist height, with thumbs pointing inward toward their body.


When the crane trolley needs to move along its bridge, the signal to travel is used. The signaler stands sideways to the operator’s view facing in the direction the crane needs to travel, and puts up the hands as if to push the crane in the intended direction.

Dog Everything

Dog everything, or pause, can be useful if the situation changes, if there is a need for further instructions, or if there is the potential for danger. The signal for dog everything is to place the signaler’s hands clasped in front of the stomach.


To signal stop, the signaler bends his/her elbow with the upper arm extended, palm down, and rhythmically extends and retracts their hand to a fully extended arm out to the side. Emergency stop is the same, only with both arms.