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Hand Signals: Mixed Signals with Unintended Consequences

Early in my life I quickly learned the value of signals. I learned the difference in a smiling face, and a scowling face, someone waving with all five fingers or just one. Then of course there was the whole dating thing, and a whole new set of signals, including mixed signals which can have unintended consequences. Riding your bike is popular again, so along with your helmet, there are ways to alert motorists of your intention to; 1.) right turn, left arm out from your side and 90 degree angle up at the elbow, like waving, and use all five fingers. 2.) left turn, left arm straight out from your side. 3.) slow down or stop, left arm out away from your side and forearm down. Don’t be embarrassed to use these, and teach your children early by example, but it’s never too late to start though, and please wear your bike helmet. You could save a life.

In the world of industry signals are just as, or even more important. The role of hand and hand signalsbody signals play a very important role in, crane, mobile lift cranes, overhead crane, aerial lifts, bucket and boom truck safety. Much like traffic signals the operator must be completely aware of his surroundings, and signals given by the signal caller on the ground. Both the caller and driver must work together in harmony trusting one another, like dating. The signals will tell the driver to stop, reverse, move ahead slowly or by inches, raise the load, lower the load, or move it right or left even by inches. Disaster can be the consequence of “Mixed signals.” Both must be aware of the hazards on and above the ground. A sight survey should be standard procedure prior to performing any job, and a safety check on the equipment is an absolute must! In 2006 there were 72 crane –related fatal occupational injuries as reported by the bureau of labor statistics. As of November 2010 signalers and riggers must be qualified, so make sure your driver and signaler are competent and have the proper qualification training. There are new rules for crane operators as well, which will be effective as of November 10, 2014. With several rules in place and new ones being put into effect, it is important to have an OSHA compliant plan in case accidents do happen.

Whether its signals in industry, at home, on the street or classroom, it’s not just about red lights, green lights or the law which could hold you accountable for not knowing them. It’s about respect for what they mean and why they are important to us.

2 thoughts on “Hand Signals: Mixed Signals with Unintended Consequences”

  • Nice post. Because cranes are operated in such a variety of situations, knowledge of hand signals is critical to safe operation. You just can't rely on radios or your own voice on a noisy worksite or over long distances. ComplianceSigns.com has developed a variety of crane hand signal labels and other materials to help keep everyone on the same page. Here's a link to our resource guide: http://www.compliancesigns.com/media/resource-bulletins/CRB-Crane.pdf

  • As a thirty yr. veteran carpenter I have lived and worked with many different cranes, tower, crawler, hydro, gantry... cranes are the life line in many of our projects. One thing that we should also understand, in todays construction safety climate, safety gloves are part of PPE now, therefor notice should taken when signaling the crane, a loose glove can also send the wrong signal, a wrong color glove can also be poor visibility to an crane operater. Simple corrective actions can pay high dividends incrane safety

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