Crane Safety: Decals, Signals, & Tips

The most common crane-related injuries and fatalities are caused by contact with the crane or its objects, falls from the crane, during transportation, or due to significant contact with an electrical current, this according to a 2008 report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Crane safety decals are meant to serve as an additional warning that reminds workers and citizens of the potential danger a crane or other similar machine may cause in the construction site should something go wrong or workers have a temporary mental lapse. Everything within the site and its immediate surroundings could be at risk.

A crane safety decal that reads "Certified Crane Operator"

These decals come in a variety of shapes and colors containing different safety messages regarding the crane, its load, a worker's experience with heavy-duty machinery, and other warnings. Safety decals are designed to bring additional awareness and drive home a point about how hazardous a machine, material, or substance can be.

However, that's all a safety decal is supposed to do: bring additional awareness. Exist as an extrareminder. Crane safety goes much further than small decals worn on hard hats, on the cranes themselves, and other materials, it requires a comprehensive program that ensures workers are educated, experienced, and suited to complete the job in a timely yet safe manner.

Crane Safety Signals

The operator of a crane has an extremely important job. He controls everything from where the crane moves to how fast it swings its load around the construction zone. However, the operator's point of reference isn't always the best and he or she should always have a point person down on the field to help guide the crane safely.

This is where crane safety signals come in. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulated these signals - along with loads of other safety information - in order to maintain universal signals that every workplace can use. That way, when new workers arrive or move to other construction sites, the crane signals will be understood immediately.

Below are a few of the most common crane safety signals that the "point person" gives to the crane operator, helping him or her operate the crane safely and securely.

Hoist. - Extend your arm in the air, with your forefinger pointing straight up toward the sky. Move hand in a small circle.

Lower. - With your arm downward toward the ground, extend your forefinger so that it points directly at the ground. Move hand in a small circle.

Swing. - Extend your arm straight out in the desired direction of the boom swing.

Travel. - Bring your arm and hand out in front of you, up in the air, with your hand making a "push" motion in the direction you want the vehicle to travel.

Emergency stop. - Extend both of your arms out to the sides, moving arms back and forth in a horizontal manner (in case of emergency only).

For visual representations of these crane safety signals - and many more - reference this document from the U.S. Department of Labor.

3 Crane Safety Tips Everyone Should Follow

A crane safety decal that reads: "Danger. Keep clear of swing radius of cranes."

The following three tips are highly recommended precautionary inspections you should take before operating a crane:

  1. Inspect all of hooks the crane uses for cracks or stress fractures daily. Replace as needed.
  2. Also on a daily basis: check to ensure all hydraulic parts are strong and aren't leaking any fluid.
  3. Read the load charts prior to starting any new crane.

Cranes are large machines that can get an incredible amount of work done in a short amount of time. However, if used incorrectly they can cause a lot of damage. Using safety decals to prevent crane-related injuries is necessary, however you should still take extreme precaution when operating heavy duty machinery by using crane signals, and following the tips provided above.

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