We hear the terms ‘rigger’ and ‘dogman’ often used interchangeably in and around our industry, though generally from clients and enthusiasts rather than by those who would give themselves either of those titles.
They are widely considered to be the same thing in many circles; however, while there are similarities between the two, rigging and dogging themselves actually describe two very different roles in the construction industry.
Here we will clear the two terms up for you, so that the next time you opt for crane rigging services to assist you with your next construction project, you will be able to know exactly what is involved, and which professionals in the industry you will be working with.
At face value, riggers and doggers perform similar, if not the same responsibilities as each other. Typically, they will form part of a team tasked with operating cranes effectively and safely on construction sites.
Their differences are laid out in terms of their levels of skill, where riggers are generally more qualified to be able to perform more specific rigging duties, as well as their expectations, which we will explore in more depth.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these professions:
What is a Rigger?
A rigger’s duties include a wide range of fields related to lifting large and heavy objects.
They typically work with cranes, but are not limited to them, working also with pulleys, block and tackles, derricks or chain hoists.
They are also responsible for lowering heavy objects once they have been lifted and moved, and reassembling these objects wherever necessary.
They do not, however, generally operate the cranes and hoists themselves, but are responsible mostly for rigging and unfastening them.
There are different classes of riggers depending on what types of loads they are qualified to handle. These are basic riggers, intermediate ones, as well as advanced riggers.
A licenced basic rigger can perform a range of functions related to working with lifting machinery.
These skillsets cover a range of abilities, including moving or transporting plants and their equipment; erecting hoists; installing lines and safety nets; installing perimeter safety screens and loading bay platforms for cranes and maintaining them as well; as well as installing elevated personnel platforms.
Intermediate riggers are licenced to provide the construction industry with a bit more of a specialised skillset.
Besides the tasks mentioned in basic rigging, intermediate riggers can also rig cranes, dredges and other types of heavy-duty machinery such as excavators.
They can install concrete and tilt-up panels, can handle demolition jobs, can operate dual crane lifts and can operate man hoists.
Because of this diverse set of highly specialised skills, intermediate riggers often form a pivotal part of any mobile crane hire company.
Advanced riggers offer a complete set of skills to the construction industry and are holders of an advanced licence; marking them out as highly skilled individuals.
Aside from the roles mentioned in the basic and intermediate categories above, they are also qualified to erect suspended and hung scaffolding.
On top of this, they can rig derricks, guyed structures, cableways, gin poles, shear legs and more.
What is a Dogman?
Now let’s talk about the roles played by doggers in the construction industry. While they might seem similar to one another, riggers and doggers offer very different things in their operation, approaches and skillsets.
In most cases, riggers and doggers will work together, and generally come as part of a team when they are hired with mobile cranes.
When compared to the roles and functions of a rigger, a dogman’s responsibilities can be outlined as such:
Selecting & Inspecting Lifting Gear
Before the project has even commenced, it is the dogman’s role to ensure that the equipment used is up to standard, safe to use and effective enough to get the job done right.
This starts from selection where these items are carefully inspected according to their quality and condition and runs through the duration of the project, where the dogman will regularly inspect and test equipment to ensure that it is constantly up to the task it is expected to perform.
If not, the dogman must decide on how maintenance will be conducted if the need should arise.
Since operating a faulty crane, or one that is in questionable condition, is generally a concern for safety for everyone and everything on site, this duty, held by doggers, is an utterly essential one for the safety and profitability of any construction project.
Using Trained Techniques to Sling Loads
Once the machines are determined to be fit for use on-site, doggers also perform the task of ensuring that loads are slung correctly and safely during elevation, to ensure that no accidents occur while the crane is being operated.
The techniques used to fasten loads to hoists and cranes must be closely aligned to industry-standard techniques that ensure the least risk of accidents from falling.
Directing Hoist Operators during Movement
The third responsibility held by doggers brings us to the third person in a team that operates the crane, namely the operator themselves.
During operation, there will be certain blind spots, whereby the operator will be unable to see the position of a load while it is in motion.
In these instances, it is the responsibility of the dogman to effectively, accurately, clearly and safely guide the movements of the crane operator to ensure that no accidents occur while they are unable to tell where the load current is.
As we can see from this, the dogman’s role has a lot to do with orchestration and safety in the construction industry.
From the selection of the appropriate gear, making sure that its condition is up to standard and overseeing and guiding crane operators, a dogman is one of the most important members of personnel on a construction site where rigging or hoisting is conducted.
The Major Differences between Rigging and Dogging
By looking at the above information it becomes easy to see the major differences between a rigger and a dogger.
While the rigger is concerned with the completion of the task ahead of them, the dogman will be concerned with how it all happens, with particular attention paid to safety and effectiveness while doing so.
Riggers also vary in the intensity of their skillsets and qualifications, which means than the right one should be selected for the needs of the construction job.
The rigger will be the one, in any case, who is responsible for actually attaching loads to a rig while making sure that they are adequately prepared for being moved.
Once the rigging equipment has been used, it is also the responsibility of the rigger to dismantle the machinery and ensuring that it can be properly stowed away until needed again.
Completing the Team: Riggers, Doggers and Crane Operators
As I have mentioned before, a hoisting team won’t only be made up of a rigger and a dogman, when rigging services are offered, there is generally a third person responsible for making it all come together.
Crane operators also require a particular set of skills to work in construction, particularly because of the various dangers associated with not getting it right.
As the name would suggest, the crane operator is responsible for just that; operating the crane.
Once the rigger has safely and properly fixed the item to be moved to the rig, and it has been tested to ensure that the object can be moved safely, it is then the job of the crane operator to actually move the load, using the crane or hoist.
The credentials held by the operator will depend quite heavily on the type of crane being operated. Various different kinds, those that are smaller in their operational scale, may only require the operator to hold a standard driving licence.
However, wherever a crane weighs between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes, the operator will need to cold a C1 driving licence before they can operate it.
In most cases in South Africa, crane drivers won’t require any formal certification, but will undergo an apprenticeship or training programme before they can be allowed to operate one.
While operating the crane, the operator will require assistance from a qualified dogman. This is particularly the case wherever loads are being lifted to such a point, that they are out of view of the operator.
Without the presence of a dogman in such an instance, there is a heightened risk of injuries or damages being sustained from potential collisions with the load being moved.
Selecting the Rigging Team for Your Needs
Armed with this information, it will likely be easier for you to make the best possible choice of who to go with when selecting a mobile crane hire company for your next construction project.
But don’t sign that agreement just yet.
Finding the perfect team for your exact needs; one that will offer you the best possible service, requires you to understand a little more about how they operate, how experienced they are, and what their other customers are saying about them.
So, to help you select the right one, here are a few questions you can pose to the company you are looking at:
What experience do they have?
The first marker of the quality of the rigging service you opt for is the number of years they have been in business. Beyond that, you will also want to have an idea of the experience and credentials held by the rigger, dogman and operator themselves.
You might find that additional experience comes at an additional cost; which can make the cheaper option a tempting one.
However, if you consider the expenses related to the kind of mistakes made by inexperienced contractors, this additional cost of an experienced team works out to fewer potential expenses in the long run.
How diverse and large is their fleet?
While you may only need a particular piece of equipment from the mobile crane hire company you are looking at, the size and variety of their fleet will tell you a lot about how established they are.
Furthermore, you should definitely inspect the quality of their equipment closely.
Every piece of machinery they have to offer should be carefully maintained to ensure that there will be no unexpected failures while they are being operated on site.
What is their reputation like?
One of the best places to go when evaluating the quality of the services and equipment offered by a mobile crane hire company, is to their existing or historical customers.
You will generally get the most honest opinions from them.
While it might not be viable to get a list of their clients to call up, you can run a quick search for the company on Google to see what their customer ratings look like.
If they have an extensive number of poor reviews, you should probably keep looking.
If there are only a few upsets, however, they would likely be better than those anomalous reviews say they are.
Do they foresee any complications with your particular job?
Have a consultation with the company you are looking at, let them look at the details of your requirements for them.
Ask if they have handled similar projects to yours in the past and also whether or not they foresee any potential complications that might cause delays or additional costs.
Be wary if they give you no information in response to your questions, as an experienced team should have enough of a perspective to pick up even the slightest possible challenges.
Contact JMB Cranes Today for the Right Set of Expertise
Are you looking for a mobile crane hire company in South Africa with the experience, fleet and skilled personnel to assist you with crane hire and operation for your next construction project?
If so, we would love to hear from you. Contact a representative from JMB Cranestoday or visit our website for details on our offers, services and fleet of specialised cranes.