If you would like to have a career as an overhead crane operator, you will…
Can you read sign language? I hope you can learn, or at least learn the sign language that is taught when you attend crane operator training. There are times when a crane operator will need to work in an environment in which they are blind to some aspect of the job. They may be blind to the lift point or blind to the drop point.
To complete the job successfully, the crane operator will need to rely on the eyes of others. They will provide the operator with signals to indicate when to raise the load, lower load, swing the load to a new position and many other movements. We call these hand signals. Many years ago we had workers riding the loads using whistles to indicate the next move. Many sites now use two way radios instead.
You will still need to learn the basic hand signals in use. These signals are fairly easy to learn and use. What is important is that only one person communicates with the crane operator at any one time. This means nominating someone to guide the operator. They too will obviously need to know the hand signals. Examples of hand signals include:
- Hoist or Raise: Raise the forearm vertically and extend the right arm straight out with forefinger pointing up – move hand in small circles.
Lower: Forefinger pointing down and extend right arm downward then move hand in small horizontal circle.
Stop: Extend right arm down with wrist bent, palm down and open.
They are just three examples and depending on the situation, may need to be used differently. What is important is that the crane operator and the person being the ‘eyes’ have an agreed signaling system in place. This ensures safety and helps to prevent accidents. Crane operator training covers the most frequently used hand signals.