Guidelines For Using Tag Lines

Using tag lines is a major way to prevent line-of-fire injuries during overhead lifts since they help you avoid having to put hands directly on a load. With large complex loads especially – a planned tag line procedure makes the lift go smoothly without anybody getting too nervous. This blog aims to quickly explain the benefits and procedures for using tag lines so you can plan ahead for your next lift.

illustration demonstrating how to use a load tag line
Graphics ©2012 Jerry Klinke

Firstly, there are no written rules that tell us how many tag lines should be used for lifting loads. However, as a rule of thumb – use as many as needed to adequately control the load. One person should be able to control the complete tag line operation by using hand signals to direct the other tag line tenders and, in doing so, will be able to maintain about the same tension on each tag line.

While tag lines can help keep a load under control, keep in mind that your weight is no match against a load that has started to swing and develop momentum! 

As a rule:

Tag lines will…

  • keep you out of harm’s way when guiding a suspended load into position
  • put distance between yourself and the load in the event the load moves unexpectedly
  • keep the load square and away from the crane boom during lifting operations
  • stabilize the load and prevent rotation and swinging out of control

Tag lines should be…

  • made of a fiber material and non-conductive
  • long enough to reach the ground from the highest point of the lift
  • free of knots or defects in the rope (NO spliced together ropes)
  • larger than ¼” diameter – a large rope is easier to hold on to

When tending tag lines…

  • never loop the line around your hand, arm, or body
  • always wear gloves (rope burns, better grip, etc.)
  • make sure YOUR travel path is clear (you will be watching the load, rather than where you are going)

Be advised, while tag lines are beneficial for load control purposes, there is currently no mandate that states they must be used every time a load is lifted. OSHA standards only require the use of tag lines whenever their absence would create a hazardous working environment. For example, if wind or other adverse conditions may cause a load to swing, rotate, or become unbalanced, then tag lines must be used to control the load. Conversely, if the weather and all other conditions are such that you can control a load without tag lines, then their usage is optional.


For additional questions about your next lifting project, chat with a live rental support specialist or call 800-878-7305 today. 



OSHA 1926.1408(b)(2), OSHA 1926.1417(w) 

Klinke, Jerry. Rigging Handbook. 5th ed., ACRA Enterprises, Inc., 2016.


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