What is a Crane Spotter?

What is a Crane Spotter?
6/19/2019 9:50:27 AM

Crane spotters have been used since industrial cranes were first created, and not much has changed over the years. These "signal people” are critical to the safe operation of any crane project, and their knowledge has only increased with time. While performing such an important job, a crane spotter must always be on the lookout for:

1. Visual communication like crane hand signals

A crane spotter’s most important role is directing the crane operator using the proper hand signals. Without this skill, any knowledge of what to avoid and how the crane works would be useless.

A complete list of animated crane signals can be found in our crane signal guide. Additionally, the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) offers sample test questions for crane operators, which you can check out here.

2. Crane operation and components

While a crane operator and a crane spotter are two totally different occupations, both roles require the same knowledge. Not every crane operates at the same load capacity, and understanding how a crane operator should lower and lift a load, which kind of sling to use, and how heavy the load may be is critical.

3. Generic safety considerations

The crane spotter should be well-versed with all safety precautions for all workers site-wide, including weather protocols and personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, work boots, hard hats, safety glasses, high visibility vests, and more.

4. Crane limitations

As a crane spotter, understanding what not to do is just as crucial as understanding what to do. The spotter is responsible for pointing out the small things that the crane operator may miss, such as whether:

  • A load is being raised perpendicular to the ground

  • A load has been left suspended in midair

  • The planned hoisting path goes above workers or comes close to any possible danger

  • The rigging chain is damaged, kinked, or twisted

  • The load hook is able to carry the load directly above its center of gravity

  • The load is around 90% of the crane’s full capacity

  • The proper distance is being kept between the center of the crane and the load’s center of gravity

  • The boom deflection surpasses the maximum load radius

5. Verbal communication

When it comes to especially difficult tasks, hand signals don’t always cut it, and hands-free radio communication while simultaneously providing hand signals and visual cues is necessary. Verbal commands must be short and simple phrases that the spotter and operator should agree upon before starting.

The items listed above are just a few of the many things a crane spotter must keep in mind. If you have any questions about what it takes to be a crane spotter or how to become one, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. LC Crane is always willing to help.

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