Rigger Hand Signals: 7 Most Common

Rigger Hand Signals: 7 Most Common

Communicating at construction sites can be a day-to-day struggle, especially if the noise is so loud that you can’t hear the sound of your own voice. When working around crane rigging, communication can mean the difference between a normal workday and a fatal accident. Luckily, we have the rigger signalman, who uses rigger hand signals when visibility and verbal communication is difficult.

Using hand signals is an important method of communication for the rigger signalman. While only the professionally trained can give signals, it is the crane operator’s job to interpret and understand them. Therefore, knowing some common hand signals will help you more efficiently do your job and reduce the risk of accidents.

7 Handy Rigger Hand Signals

Wire down, hoist down, lower load

The rigger signalman makes this signal by point the index finger down and moving it in a circular motion. This occurs when the worker wants you to bring the load down.

Wire up, hoist up, raise load

As you may have guessed, this signal is basically the opposite of the previous one. It indicates raising the load. The signal involves pointing the index finger up and moving it in a wide circle. Check out OSHA’s pictures of this hand signal.

Boom up

This rigger hand signal may seem similar to raising the load. The main difference is that the arm is extended and the thumb is pointed up instead of the index finger. You could imagine that the signalman is giving you a thumbs up.

Swing, slew, rotate crane

Extending the arm tells operators to swing the load, and the arm’s direction will tell you where you should swing. The signalman will tuck in the thumb; otherwise, it might look like the “boom up” rigger hand signal.

Boom up and wire down

This message basically combines the signals for “boom up” and “wire down,” which tells operators to float the load. The rigger signalman will extend their arm with the thumb up and quickly open and close the other fingers.

Knuckle boom hand signal

Sometimes you have to be specific about what kind of boom needs to be moved.  Grabbing your forearm indicates that the knuckle boom needs to be moved. This also shows that you want the boom closest to the attachment. Look at some unique rigger hand signals through Hard Hat Training’s Rigger Signalman Training.

Wire up, hoist up, raise load slowly

The load will occasionally be heavy or unstable, and the signalman will tell you to raise the load more slowly. They will indicate this by pointing the index finger up and making a circular motion below the other hand’s palm.


Understanding the subtle nuances between different hand signals will help you avoid miscommunication and do your job more efficiently. While the signals we’ve discussed are not a comprehensive list, they should be a review for properly trained crane operators. If you aren’t sure that you can remember all of those rigger hand signals, consider purchasing Hard Hat Training’s hand signal cards!