Guidelines For How To Use Tag Lines

Guidelines For How To Use Tag Lines

Tag line usage is an important method to prevent line-of-fire injuries during overhead lifts. They can help you avoid having to put your hands directly on a load. A planned tag line procedure helps the lift go smoothly – especially with large, complex loads. This blog aims to quickly explain the benefits and procedures for using tag lines so you can plan ahead for your next lift.

What is a Rigging Tag Line?


Using a load tag line on a construction site, from an LGH blog post about tag lines.

The OSHA definition of a tag line is as follows:

“A rope (usually fiber) attached to a lifted load for purposes of controlling load spinning and pendular motions, or used to stabilize a bucket or magnet during material handling operation.”

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! 

Using a load tag line on a construction site, from an LGH blog post about tag lines.

Important Tag Line Info


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

When tending to 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 (often 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.



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