A crane operator often needs a second set of eyes—a signal person—to be able to operate safely. The sections below state when a signal person must be provided and the types of signals that are allowed. The qualifications the signal person must possess are specified in section 1428 (Signal person qualifications).
A signal person must be provided:
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.
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.
When using hand signals, the Standard Method must be used.
Exception: Where an operation or use of an attachment is not covered in the Standard Method or the use of the Standard Method is otherwise infeasible, non-standard hand signals may be used. When using non-standard hand signals, the signal person, operator, and lift director (where there is one) must contact each other prior to the operation and agree on the non-standard hand signals that will be used.
Hand signal charts, such as the ones shown below, must be either posted on the equipment or conspicuously posted in the vicinity of the hoisting operation.
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.
Each voice signal must contain the following three elements, given in the following order:
In most cases where voice signals are given, some type of electronic transmission and reception will be used. When this is the case:
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.
The standard allows room for development of new signal technology by permitting signals other than hand, voice, or audible signals to be used where the employer demonstrates one of the following:
Falls from dangerous heights can occur when employees work on boom sections during assembly/disassembly, when employees are gaining access to and from their work stations, or at other times when employees are working at elevations, such as tower crane walkways. The provisions of section 1423 are designed to protect employees who work on elevated parts of equipment from falling.
Work at elevation: For non-assembly/disassembly work, the employer must provide and ensure the use of fall protection equipment for employees who are on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 6 feet above a lower level as follows:
Assembly/Disassembly: For assembly/disassembly work, the employer must provide and ensure the use of fall protection equipment for employees who are on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 15 feet above a lower level, except when the employee is at or near draw-works (when the equipment is running), in the cab, or on the deck.
For erecting, climbing, and dismantling work, the employer must provide and ensure the use of fall protection equipment for employees who are on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 15 feet above a lower level.
OSHA's general fall protection standard for construction work, 29 CFR 1926 subpart M, only applies to work on cranes when Section 1423 explicitly refers to a provision in that subpart.
On July 29, 2005, Employee #1 was operating a Rubber Tired Grove Crane. The crane was used to hoist purlins onto the walls of a steel building. While on the ground, a hook was attached to the purlin and it was lifted into place using a tagline. After the purlin was placed, the hook was detached and lowered to the ground. During the operation, the tagline became entangled. Employee #1 was instructed to untangle the tagline. The crane hook was lowered and he climbed onto the hoist cable without fall protection. With one foot in the sling, he held the hoist cable above the hook block with both hands. Then he was hoisted 29.5 ft. into the air. As he attempted to untie the tagline from the purlin, he let go of the cable, causing the sling to swing sideways. The movement of the swing resulted in his loss of balance. He fell to the ground, landing on his back and head. He was flown by helicopter to a medical center where he remained in a coma until his death thirteen days later.
When lattice boom cranes are assembled and disassembled, it is sometimes necessary for employees to walk and work on the boom sections to install and remove pins or for other purposes. To provide them with a safer surface on which to walk and work, certain booms manufactured after November 8, 2011 must have built-in walkways.
The booms that must be equipped with walkways are those more than six feet from cord centerline to cord centerline. The walkways must be at least 12 inches wide and need not be protected by guardrails, railings, or other permanent fall protection attachments.
If the equipment was originally equipped with these devices, you must maintain them in good condition. However, the standard does not require existing equipment to be retrofitted with these devices.
Equipment manufactured after November 8, 2011 must be equipped to provide safe access and egress between the ground and the operator work station(s), including the forward and rear positions, by the provision of these types of devices. Walking/stepping surfaces, except for crawler treads, must have slip-resistant features/properties (such as diamond plate metal, strategically placed grip tape, expanded metal, or slip-resistant paint).
Fall protection must be anchored to a substantial part of the equipment that would meet the criteria in 29 CFR 1926 subpart M. A personal fall arrest system may be anchored to the crane/derrick's hook (or other part of the load line) where all of the following requirements are met:
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