What’s a Banksman? An Important Rigging Role
Have you ever needed to back your vehicle out of a difficult position and had a friend grab a better vantage point to guide you? In these situations, you may be able to hear your guide – but oftentimes rely on them signaling you to move, turn, or stop using hand signals.
Now, imagine that on the scale of operating a crane! A crane operator can’t hear you. So when your team removes an old rooftop unit and positions a new one, the people on the ground and on the rooftop must use established hand signals to communicate safely with the crane operator – that’s the role of the banksman! Of course, that’s boiling it down a bit, but largely the banksman is in charge of crane movements from the point of loading to unloading. A banksman may also control the movements of other equipment such as an excavator, by carefully monitoring the bucket for any obstructions or underground services. They often do this using a system of hand signals along with possibly a radio system.
Why the Worksite Needs a Banksman
The role of the banksman is one of the most important roles on the worksite. Ask any crane operator and they will tell you that one of the main factors for a successful project is coordination. Working in-sync with your team on the ground is not only crucial for safety but can help your project run smoothly, on schedule and keep the boss happy. With absolute precision and accuracy needed for a job, being able to clearly communicate direction is critical – but this is not always an easy task.
It’s easy to imagine needing to use hand signals when communicating to the crane operator, but they are also needed on the ground. Construction sites can be exceptionally loud and busy, meaning verbal communication is at risk of being drowned out by roaring machinery.
As the eyes and the ears of a dedicated area or crane, a banksman carries many responsibilities. Before a person can direct the operation of a crane they must first undergo formal training and complete a qualification in crane signaling. In training, a person will not only develop an understanding of standard hand signals, but they will also be required to become familiar with many different types of cranes, how each crane functions and any hand signals specific to particular equipment. The trainee banksman is required to grasp an understanding of the large library of signals without any memory prompts and show competence in recalling these during an examination by a third-party provider.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard method of signaling must be used when operating a crane unless non-standard hand signals are discussed during the pre-job meeting. OSHA enforces standards and training requirements for safe working environments across multiple industries, including construction in the United States.
Train to be a Rigger Slinger Banksman with Hercules Training Academy
This training course provides students with the fundamental knowledge and practical skills of lifting and rigging to enable them to prepare, sling and release loads in an offshore environment. This is a 3-day program that combines theory and practical training. Students are evaluated by means of a written test and practical evaluation. Upon successful completion of the program, a certificate will be issued.
This program meets and exceeds the standards for offshore rigging set by:
- Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHS)
- Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP)
- Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB)
- Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NSOPB)
- American Petroleum Institute (API) RP 2D
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- UK Offshore Health and Safety Regulations
- Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA)
- Norwegian Offshore Sector (NORSOK)
- Regulations, standards, associations
- Risk management
- Rigging plan
- Calculating load weight
- Rigging triangle
- Load control
- Sling angles and the center of gravity
- Rigging equipment (slings, hitches, hardware, hooks)
- Pre-use inspection
- Duties & responsibilities of the rigger and banksman
- Communications (radio and hand signals)
- Personnel transfer
- Container inspection
- Practical applications of the equipment and principles
*PPSSTTTT… If you’re from or near Mount Pearl, NL, this course will be offered on Sep 28-30. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or to register!
Keeping the Worksite Safe
The banksman is also responsible for preventing injury and accidents to the best of their ability, this is done by following strict procedure during crane operation, for instance standing in clear view of the crane operator, ensuring the operating area is clear of people or hazardous objects and performing one signal at a time to avoid confusion.
Safety is the number one concern for crane operators, a person performing the hand signals stand at a vantage point which allows them to view the load area from a perspective that is not visible to the crane operator. From this point, the signal person is able to confirm whether a maneuver is safe to perform and halt all activity if they observe a potential risk.
Cranes have incredible capabilities however if operated incorrectly, they can pose a significant danger to construction workers on the site and in some cases the public. Hand signals have been established as a reliable, low tech and universal way to improve safety during operation and avoid accidents.
The Hand Signals
This age-old technique is used by crane operators across the world, aiding them to accurately receive unmistakable directions without the need for fancy equipment or even words!
Download your Hercules, handy reference sheet illustrating the correct hand signals here
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL LIST OF OSHA STANDARD METHOD HAND SIGNALS.