Toolbox Talk – Signaling Techniques

Date: ____________________________________

Supervisor: ____________________________________

Company Name: ____________________________________

Job Name: ____________________________________

Communication is critical on a construction site. Everyday, we work with heavy machinery and dangerous materials. Without thorough communication between coworkers, these machines and materials can cause damage to property, injuries, and death. When we work with heavy machinery and vehicles (such as forklifts and cranes), this communication occurs in the form of hand signals. In today’s Toolbox Talk, we will discuss the importance of proper signaling, and how to use your hands to communicate with drivers/operators. 

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Guidelines for Discussion:

While working on a construction site, we rely on communication to complete tasks. Sometimes, this communication occurs in the form of hand signals. We use hand signals when verbal communication isn’t efficient or possible, like between a worker on the ground and a crane operator. It is crucial that we establish a mutual understanding of the different signals so that we can actually rely on our non-verbal communication as a consistent resource in the completion of tasks. 

A shared understanding of hand signals is key to the overall safety of the construction site. Think about it. If you are certain that you are signaling for a truck driver to move forward but he understands this to be the symbol for backing up, then this can result in damaged equipment, an injured coworker, or even death. 

Here are some general rules to follow when using hand signals: 

  • Understand the signals before beginning a task that requires signaling. If possible, speak with the operator or driver beforehand to ensure you are on the same page when it comes to your signaling vocabulary. 
  • Assign only one signal person per operator. This prevents confusion for the operator, and for other workers on the ground.
  • Before the operator begins his/her task, make sure he/she knows who will be signaling. 
  • The signal person must always stand in a position where he/she has a full view of both the operator and the work area. 
  • The signal person must always watch the load while the operator must watch the signal person. 
  • The signal person must be sure that the load (when suspended) does not travel over workers. 
  • When signaling, always warn your coworkers when loads are being moved in their area. Allow them time to move if necessary.
  • When signaling, always look out for overhead power lines and any other obstructions that could be in the path of the load or vehicle.

Here are some general hand signals to remember:

Signaling Techniques

Remember, while there are general rules of hand signaling, there are also differentiations based on the type of signaling operation. Depending on the rules of your company, there may be slightly different rules when you are signaling to a truck, forklift, crane, etc.

Additional Discussion Notes:

At the end of this Toolbox Talk, go over the specific rules of signaling that apply to your company and/or routine tasks. If necessary, assign a signal person or persons for various tasks.

Safety Recommendations: ____________________________________
Job Specific Topics: ____________________________________

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Disclaimer

The information contained within this document (both the online and downloadable version) is provided for informational purposes only. Nobody shall take this as a comprehensive or exhaustive resource on this topic. This material is believed to be accurate, however, the information has been compiled from multiple sources, and so First Compliance Safety assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of this information. We encourage you to consult experts about this specific Toolbox Talk to ensure you are compliant with any and all safety regulations and processes. In no event does the content of this document supersede any applicable local, state, or federal statutes or regulations.

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