Are you considering a career in construction working as a slinger signaller?
Slinger signallers work closely alongside the lifting team on a construction site to ensure that all lifting operations are being carried out safely.
To work as a slinger signaller, you’ll need to have good observation and communication skills and an excellent understanding of construction site health and safety rules, regulations, and risks, particularly when it comes to cranes and other lifting equipment.
Working as a slinger signaller can be a challenging but rewarding role to take on.
In this article you will find out a little more about the important role slinger signallers play on the construction site and what duties they perform on a day-to-day basis.
What are the responsibilities of a slinger signaller?
The slinger signaller plays a vital role in ensuring the health and safety of everyone working on a construction site.
The main responsibility of the slinger signaller is to work alongside crane operators, providing them with supervision and safe directions from ground level during lifting operations.
When sitting inside the crane, crane operators have a restricted view of what is going on around them on the construction site. This means that they may not be able to spot a hazard down on the ground.
Cranes are huge pieces of machinery, and they are used to carry extremely heavy and bulky loads. If a mistake is made using a crane, or a hazard is not identified down on the ground, crane accidents can be fatal. It is a slinger signaller’s job to work with the crane operator to reduce the risk of an accident occurring.
A slinger signaller works as the crane operator’s eyes and ears down on the ground. It is the slinger signaller’s responsibility to look out for any potential hazards that may compromise the safety of carrying out the lifting operation and alert the crane operator to them.
Slinger signallers are also involved in helping to prepare for and manage safe lifting operations.
Duties of a slinger signaller
Whilst a large portion of the slinger signaller’s time may be taken up communicating with and providing directions to crane operators, this is just one of the many duties that they perform daily.
Let’s take a closer look at the duties that slinger signallers carry out day-to-day.
Communicate with crane operators from ground level
The slinger signaller’s primary duty is to communicate with crane operators from ground level during lifting operations, providing them with safe directions and alerting them to any hazards.
Depending on conditions, communications between the slinger signaller and crane operator are usually carried out using hand signals. The hand signals that the sling signaller must use are standardised hand signals as laid out in BS 7121 and the government’s Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.
Sometimes, if it is very foggy or raining heavily and conditions are making visibility poor, it may be too difficult for the crane operator to see the slinger signaller’s hand signals. If this is the case, an alternative method of communication may be used. This is usually either signals using lit batons or two-way radio.
It is essential to the safety of everyone on the building site that the slinger signaller has faultless knowledge of the standardised hand signals and communicates clearly and precisely.
Make a judgement call on when to halt lifting operations
Sometimes, if the weather is particularly bad, it may be safer to halt lifting operations until another day. Slinger signallers have the authority to halt lifting operations if they believe that conditions are too hazardous to safely continue.
Help with planning lifting operations
Each lifting operation must be carefully planned by the lifting team to ensure that it is completed safely and efficiently. Some of the points that should be considered when planning a lifting exercise include:
- Where the load will be lifted from.
- Where the load is to be moved to.
- The area the lifted load will pass over.
- Any obstructions that must be navigated.
- How the load is to be slung.
- How the crane operator will be directed.
- The weight of the load.
- Weather conditions.
The slinger signaller is an important part of this team and should be involved in all lifting plans.
Identify potential hazards to lifting operations
Slinger signallers should have received training in construction site health and safety and have excellent knowledge of the types of hazards they may encounter during lifting operations. They should understand what the main causes of accidents during lifting operations are and how to prevent them.
Some of the hazards they should look out for include:
- Unstable ground
- Nearby trees
- People working
- Power lines overhead
- Other machines and equipment
- Surrounding buildings or structures
Slinger signallers should look out for and identify potential hazards both before a lifting operation commences and during lifting operations.
Advise on the operational requirements of lifting tasks
Slinger signallers should have an excellent understanding of all the different lifting equipment available, the features of each, how they are best used, and how to use them safely.
There are a variety of different lifting accessories available that can be attached to a crane to help to lift different loads safely and efficiently.
Just some of the different lifting accessories available include chain slings, electric hoists, eyebolts, hooks, shackles, lifting clamps, and lifting magnets.
Different lifting accessories will be suitable for carrying different weights and types of load. Each piece of lifting equipment should come with guidance on the maximum weight it can be used to safely lift. The slinger signaller must provide advice to other members of the lifting team on the best equipment to use for each job.
Safely attach suspended loads for lifting
The slinger signaller should be able to identify which lifting accessories are most suited and safest for each lifting exercise and safely attach the equipment and load to the crane.
To do this, they will need extensive knowledge about the lifting equipment and accessories available, what they are for, and how to use them safely according to the manufacturer’s instructions and industry rules and regulations.
Perform safety checks before lifting
Once the load has been safely attached to the crane, it is the slinger signaller’s duty to perform relevant safety checks before the lifting operation can begin.
Just some of the checks that they should make include:
- Is the lifting equipment in good condition and free from damage?
- Are the slings properly attached to the load?
- Is the load free and ready to be lifted?
- Is the safety catch closed?
- Are all people clear of the load and the area it will be lifted over?
- Is an exclusion zone required?
- Is the landing site ready to receive the load?
- Are the weather conditions safe to continue?
Oversee landing the load and detach the load from the lifting equipment
Once a load has been safely moved, there should be a slinger signaller present at the load’s landing site to oversee the load landing and safely detach the load from the crane.
Before the slinger signaller communicates with the crane operator that it is safe to place the load down, they should first check that there is enough space for the load to be put down safely and that they are safely out of the way of the load.
Once the load has been placed down, the slinger signaller must safely detach the load from the lifting equipment, remove any lifting accessories from the crane and ensure they are stored away safely.
Perform regular safety inspections
Lifting operations can only be performed safely if the equipment being used is in good condition and is free from signs of damage.
Because cranes lift such immense weights, any damage or wear to equipment could cause it to break during use and poses a significant safety risk.
The slinger signaller must carry out daily inspections and visual checks on all lifting equipment, accessories, and loads before and after any lifting operations to check for damage or excessive wear and ensure that all equipment is safe to use.
The slinger signaller must carry out these inspections of the equipment according to the government’s Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. If any defects are found during these routine inspections, then they must be reported to the relevant person immediately. It is also the slinger signaller’s responsibility to keep accurate records of the inspections.
The safety of construction site personnel is in the hands of the slinger signaller, so they must be competent in their role.
To perform their duties safely and competently, slinger signallers must receive professional training in the rules, regulations, and legislation surrounding their role.
Find out more about the role and responsibilities of a slinger signaller in our article How to become a slinger signaller,
If you are interested in becoming a slinger signaller, enroll yourself via our Course Calendar for one of the slinger signaller training courses that we run here at SB Skills.
We offer professional slinger signaller training courses that have been accredited by either the CPCS Construction Plant Competence Scheme or the NPORS National Plant Operators Registration Scheme.
Gaining certification from one of these two nationally recognised training bodies will demonstrate that you can work to nationally recognised health and safety standards and meet all legal requirements for the role.
For more information about our slinger signaller training courses or speak to a member of our team, give us a call today on 01695 558420, or complete our online contact form and we will be in touch shortly.