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A safety reminder displayed at an industrial site near London Paddington station.

In Irish and British civil engineering, a banksman is the person who directs the operation of a crane or larger vehicle from the point near where loads are attached and detached. The term 'dogman' may be used in Australia and New Zealand, while 'spotter' is the more common term in United States.[1]


Crane or large vehicle drivers do not always have clear visibility of the loading area, especially when tower cranes are employed. The banksman is in charge of the crane movements from the point of loading and unloading. They may use a system of hand signals or a radio link.

A banksman may also be responsible for directing the movement and loading/unloading of lorries, or directing the movement of other plant.[2] A banksman may also control the movements of an excavator, by carefully monitoring the bucket for any obstructions or underground services.

Usage timeline[edit]

  • 1825: the man stationed at the bank or top of a pit who unhooked and emptied the laden corves [1] into carts or wagons, from a frame or stage.
  • 1849: the man who drew the full tubs from the cages at the surface, when wound up by the engine, and replaced them with empty ones; he also put the full tubs to the weighing machine, and thence to the skreens, upon which he teemed the coals. It was also his duty to keep an account of the quantity of coals and stones drawn each day.
  • 1894: person who controlled the unloading and loading of the cage at the pit top, and signalled the descent of the workmen.


  1. ^ Scott, John (1992). Dictionary Of Civil Engineering (3rd ed.). Springer Science & Business Media. p. 401. 
  2. ^ "Banksmen and signallers". Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 6 November 2014.