Operations, Signaling, and Hoisting

Rated Capacity

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Make sure the crane does not exceed its rated capacity.

One of the most serious hazards that cranes present is collapse of the equipment caused by exceeding the crane's rated capacity. The term "rated capacity" is defined as:

the maximum working load permitted by the manufacturer under specified working conditions. Such working conditions typically include a specific combination of factors such as equipment configuration, radii, boom length, and other parameters of use.

The combination of factors that enter into rated capacity is set forth in a load chart that must be on the equipment. In general, the load chart states the weight of the load that the crane can lift at different boom radii. The longer the radius at which the lift occurs, the smaller amount of weight the crane can lift.

Cranes must not be operated in excess of its rated capacity. Some crane users believe they can safely exceed the rated capacity because the manufacturer includes a safety factor in the load chart. However, any safety factor included by the manufacturer is not intended to be treated as excess capacity. It is included because a variety of variable worksite conditions, such as swinging of the load caused by wind or other factors, can reduce the capacity of the crane from that which exists under ideal conditions.

To comply with the rated capacity, the weight of the load must be known. Before beginning a lift, you must determine the load weight by using a reliable means.

1. The combination of factors that enter into rated capacity is _____.

a. set forth in a load chart
b. located in the contractors office
c. indicated on the capacity plate
d. calculated by the operator

Other Manufacturer Procedures

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The operator must do nothing that diverts attention from operating the equipment.

In addition to complying with the rated capacity, the operator must comply with all other manufacturer procedures applicable to the operation of the equipment. If the manufacturer's procedures are unavailable, procedures for the operational controls must be developed by a qualified person. Procedures related to the capacity of the equipment must be developed and signed by a registered professional engineer familiar with the equipment.

All procedures applicable to the operation of the equipment, including rated capacities (load charts), recommended operating speeds, special hazard warnings, instructions, and operator's manual, must be readily available in the cab at all times for use by the operator.

Operator Attention

The operator must not engage in any practice or activity that diverts their attention while engaged in operating the equipment, such as the use of a cell phone (except when used for signal communications).

Operator Responsibility While the Load is Suspended

The operator must not leave the controls while the load is suspended except where ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • The operator remains adjacent to the equipment and is not engaged in any other duties.
  • The load is to be held suspended for a period of time exceeding normal lifting operations.
  • The competent person determines that it is safe to do so and implements measures necessary to restrain the boom hoist and telescoping, load, swing, and outrigger or stabilizer functions.
  • Barricades or caution lines and notices are erected to prevent all employees from entering the fall zone. No employees are permitted in the fall zone.

The four criteria immediately above do not apply to working gear (such as slings, spreader bars, ladders, and welding machines) where the weight of the working gear is negligible relative to the lifting capacity of the equipment as positioned, and the working gear is suspended over an area other than an entrance or exit.

2. Which of the following actions is NOT allowed if the operator leaves the crane controls while a load is suspended?

a. The load is required to be suspended longer than normal lifting operations
b. The operator assists in maneuvering another suspended load
c. The competent person determines it is safe to keep the load suspended
d. Barricades or caution lines and warning notices are erected
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The competent person determines if it's safe to operate the crane in during bad weather.

Tagging Out-of-Service Equipment and Functions

When the equipment is out of service, a tag must be placed in the cab stating that the equipment is out of service and is not to be used. Where a function is out of service, a tag must be placed in a conspicuous position stating that the function is out of service and is not to be used. The equipment or function may not be used until the tag is removed by an authorized person.

Precautions During Startup

Before starting the engine, the operator must verify that all controls are in the proper starting position and that all personnel are in the clear.

Bad Weather Precautions

When a local storm warning has been issued, the competent person must determine whether it is necessary to implement manufacturer recommendations for securing the equipment. The competent person must adjust the equipment and/or operations to address the effect of wind, ice, and snow on equipment stability and rated capacity.

Sideloading Prohibited

The equipment must not be used to drag or pull loads sideways.

3. What is required if a crane is placed out of service?

a. A warning line must be placed around the crane
b. The start/stop switches must be physically locked
c. All crane operators must be notified verbally
d. An "Out of Service" tag must be placed in the cab

Brake Test

Crane Hoisting
Cranes cannot travel with load if prohibited by manufacturer.

The operator must test the brakes each time a load that is 90% or more of the maximum line pull is handled by lifting the load a few inches and applying the brakes. In duty cycle and repetitive lifts where each lift is 90% or more of the maximum line pull, this requirement applies to the first lift but not to successive lifts.

Protection Against Rope Detachment

To prevent rope from becoming detached from a drum, neither the load nor the boom must be lowered below the point where less than two full wraps of rope remain on their respective drums.

Traveling with a Load

Traveling with a load is prohibited if the practice is prohibited by the manufacturer. Where it is not prohibited, you must take precautions to prevent hazardous movement of the load and avoid excessive movement of the load that could overload the crane.

Authority to Stop Operation

Section 1418 provides that, whenever there is a concern about safety, the operator must have the authority to stop and refuse to handle loads until a qualified person has determined that safety has been assured.

4. What must the crane operator do if a load is 90% or more of the maximum line pull is to be lifted?

a. Nothing is required until line pull is exceeded
b. Check all knots on the line
c. Lift the load a few inches and apply brakes
d. Ensure the load is properly tied off
signal person
A crane operator often needs a signal person, to be able to operate safely.


A crane operator often needs a signal person to operate safely. A signal person must be provided:

  • when the point of operation, meaning the path the load travels or the area where the load is placed, is not in full view of the operator;
  • when the equipment is traveling and the operator's view in the direction of travel is obstructed; or
  • when, due to site-specific safety concerns, either the operator or the person handling the load determines that it is necessary.

During operations requiring signals, the ability to transmit signals between the operator and signal person must be maintained. If that ability is interrupted at any time, the operator must safely stop operations until signal transmission is reestablished and a proper signal is given and understood.

Only one person may give signals to a crane/derrick at a time, though any person may give an emergency stop signal.

5. What is required when the point of operation is not in full view of the crane operator?

a. A correctly adjusted mirror
b. A signal person
c. A second operator
d. A remote camera

Types of Signals

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Hand, voice, audible, or new signals are allowed. The type of signals used and means of transmitting the signals to the operator (such as direct line of sight, video, radio, etc.), must be appropriate for the site conditions. All directions given to the operator by the signal person must be given from the operator's perspective.

Hand Signals

This is the most common method of signaling on worksites. When using hand signals, the Standard Method must be used.

Hand signal charts must be either posted on the equipment or conspicuously posted in the vicinity of the hoisting operation.

Voice Signals

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These are signals given by oral communication, with or without amplification or electronic transmission. If this type of signal is used, the operator, signal person, and lift director (if there is one) must, before beginning operations, contact each other and agree on the voice signals that will be used.

Audible Signals

These are signals made by a distinct sound or series of sounds, such as sounds made by a bell, horn, or whistle. As with other types of signals, the signal person and operator must clearly understand the meaning of the signals being used.

New Signal Methods

If appropriate, new methods for signaling may be used such as video monitoring, as long as it meets all OSHA requirements for signaling.

6. What is the most common form of signaling for crane operations on construction sites?

a. Hand signals
b. Audible signals
c. Voice signals
d. Tactile signals

Work Area Control

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Stay clear of rotating superstructures.

Section 1424 is designed to protect employees who work near a crane from being struck or crushed by the crane's rotating superstructure. To prevent employees from entering an area where they could be struck/crushed, the employer must:

  • Train each employee assigned to work on or near the equipment in how to recognize struck-by and pinch/crush hazard areas posed by the rotating superstructure.
  • Erect and maintain control lines, warning lines, railings, or similar barriers to mark the boundaries of the hazard areas.
  • Exception:When you can demonstrate that it is neither feasible to erect such barriers on the ground nor on the equipment, the hazard areas must be clearly marked by a combination of warning signs (such as "Danger – Swing/Crush Zone") and high visibility markings on the equipment that identify the hazard areas. In addition, you must train each employee to understand what these markings signify.

Before an employee goes to a location in the hazard area that is out of view of the operator, the employee (or someone instructed by the employee) must ensure that the operator is informed that he/she is going to that location.

Where the operator knows that an employee went to such a location, the operator must not rotate the superstructure until the operator is informed in accord with a pre-arranged system of communication that the employee is in a safe position.

7. Why is it important to erect and maintain warning lines, railings, and other barriers around an operational crane?

a. Because you can't trust employees to use common sense
b. To keep employees from falling off the crane
c. Because OSHA requires it
d. To prevent employees from being struck/crushed

Keeping Clear of the Load

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Employees can work under suspended loads only if specific criteria is met.

Section 1425 seeks to protect employees against being struck by a moving or falling load.

Safe Hoisting Routes

Where available, hoisting routes that minimize the exposure of employees to hoisted loads must be used, to the extent consistent with public safety.

Stationary Suspended Load

While the operator is not moving a suspended load, no employee may be within the fall zone, except for employees:

  • engaged in hooking, unhooking, or guiding the load;
  • engaged in the initial attachment of the load to a component or structure; or
  • operating a concrete hopper or concrete bucket.

Hooking, Unhooking, or Guiding the Load

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When employees in the fall zone are engaged in hooking, unhooking, or guiding the load, or are connecting a load to a component or structure, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • The materials being hoisted must be rigged to prevent unintentional displacement.
  • Hooks with self-closing latches or their equivalent must be used. Exception: "J" hooks may be used for setting wooden trusses so that a worker need not go onto the truss to open the hook.
  • The materials must be rigged by a qualified rigger.

Receiving a Load

Only employees needed to receive a load are permitted to be within the fall zone when a load is being landed.

8. Which of the following activities is NOT allowed under a stationary hoisted load?

a. Hooking, unhooking, or guiding the load
b. Initial attachment of the load to a component
c. Taking photographs of the load suspension
d. Operating a concrete hopper or bucket
Here is a good video demonstrating why hoisting personnel is generally frowned upon.
(Click to play video)

Hoisting Personnel

Employers may not use cranes and derricks to hoist employees, unless:

  1. the erection, use, and dismantling of conventional means of reaching the work area, such as a personnel hoist, ladder, stairway, aerial lift, elevating work platform, or scaffold, would be more hazardous, or
  2. the erection, use, and dismantling of conventional means of reaching the work area is not possible because of the project's structural design or worksite conditions.

Use of Personnel Platform

A personnel platform is not required for hoisting employees:

  • Into and out of drill shafts that are up to and including 8 feet in diameter;
  • in pile driving operations;
  • solely for transfer to or from a marine worksite in a marine-hoisted personnel transfer device; or
  • in storage tank (steel or concrete), shaft, and chimney operations.

Pre-Lift Meeting

A pre-lift meeting must be held before the trial lift to review the applicable requirements of Section 1431 and the procedures that will be followed. The meeting must be attended by the equipment operator, signal person (if used for the lift), employees to be hoisted, and the person responsible for the task to be performed.

9. The use of cranes and derricks to hoist personnel is not allowed _____.

a. when hoisting personnel into a 7-foot drill shaft
b. when conventional means of reaching the work area can be used
c. when conducting pile driving operations
d. when hoisting personnel into a steel storage tank

Trial Lift and Inspection

This is an example of a trial lift. Photo courtesy of Lifting Technologies, Inc.

A trial lift with the unoccupied personnel platform loaded at least to the anticipated lift weight must be made from ground level, or any other location where employees will enter the platform, to each location at which the platform is to be hoisted and positioned.

Where there is more than one location to be reached from a single set-up position, either individual trial lifts for each location, or a single trial lift, in which the platform is moved sequentially to each location, must be performed; the method selected must be the same as the method that will be used to hoist the personnel.

Immediately after the trial lift, a competent person must visually inspect the equipment, base support or ground, and personnel platform to determine whether the trial lift has exposed any defect or problem or produced any adverse effect. Any condition found during the trial lift and subsequent inspection that fails to meet a requirement of this standard or otherwise creates a safety hazard must be corrected before hoisting personnel.

Proof Testing

Prior to hoisting employees on the personnel platform, and after any repair or modification, the platform and rigging must be proof tested to 125 percent of the platform's rated capacity. The proof test may be done concurrently with the trial lift. Personnel hoisting must not be conducted until a competent person determines that the platform and rigging have successfully passed the proof test.

Hoisting Personnel near Power Lines

Hoisting personnel within 20 feet of a power line that is up to 350 kV, and hoisting personnel within 50 feet of a power line that is more than 350 kV, is prohibited (except for power transmission and distribution work).

10. What action must be taken prior to hoisting employees using a platform that has been repaired?

a. A trial lift with three personnel hoisted in the platform
b. Certification of the repair by a registered professional engineer
c. Proof testing to 125 percent of the platform's rated capacity
d. Lift the platform a few inches and apply the brakes

Check your Work

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Take Final Exam


Watch this Mega Cranes video that took an employee up 200 ft to the top of their tower crane on a construction site in Burnaby, BC. For him to be able to climb the tower he had to have to have his Fall Protection Certificate, which he took online prior to climbing the crane.

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