Rigging looks like an easy operation, one that doesn’t seem to require any particular skill or experience. But don’t be fooled. Many people who’ve thought that “anyone can do it” have lost fingers or hands, or suffered more serious injuries. We don’t want any one injured while rigging on the job. So I’m going to point out some of the “do’s and don’ts.”

Appoint one member of the crew to act as signalman, and instruct the crane operator not to accept signals from anyone else. The signalman must not order a move until getting an “all ready” from each crew member. Each worker in turn must be in the clear before giving an “all ready” to the signal-man. If you must hold on to the chain, sling, choker, or what ever to maintain tension, be sure your hands and feet are out of the way of pinch points before giving an “all ready.”

If it isn’t possible to release the chain, sling, or choker, be sure your hand is clear of pinch points. In fact, keep your hand far enough away so that a frayed wire or splinter on the chain can’t catch your glove and jerk your hand into a pinch point.

It’s almost impossible to position the hook exactly over the load center. So, watch out for a swing or roll. Anticipate the direction of the swing or roll and work away from it. Never place yourself between material, equipment or other stationary objects and the load. Stay away from stacked material that may be knocked over by a swinging load.

Never get under a suspended load, and keep out from under the crane’s boom too. The chances are that nothing will break. But are you willing to bet life and limb that it won’t?

When it’s necessary to guide a load, use a tag line or hook. If you have to walk with a load, keep it as close to the ground as possible. Before hand, look over the spot where the load is to be landed.

Remove unnecessary blocks or the objects that might fly up when struck by the load. When lowering or setting a load, keep your feet and all other parts of your body out from under. Set the load down easily and slowly. Then, if it rolls on the blocking, it will shift slowly and you’ll be able to get away.