#YHSafetyTips - Hand Signals

Posted by Ashley Bechtel in #YHSafetyTips, Jun 14, 2017

Any time that you are operating large equipment to move large loads around a job site, you should have a hand signaller on site. This hand signaller will help the operator to direct the equipment to the correct place, avoid collisions, and even avoid damage to the job site and/or load being moved.

What does a hand signaller do?

A hand signaller, also called a signal person, is responsible for providing hand signals to all persons on the job site. They will help avoid collisions between equipment and structures on the job site. You can find a small sample of hand signals below. To view more, visit OSHA's guide here.

What qualifications does a hand signaller need?

Being the signal person for a job site is a big responsibility, and you can't just walk in off the street and think you can do the job. You must know and understand the relevant signals used in 1926 regulations. You must also understand the equipment that you are directing. You must also understand the dynamics of the equipment that you are directing. This means that you must know the dynamics of the swinging, lowering loads, stopping loads, and boom deflection just to name a few.

Why use hand signals when we have technology?

Technology is a great thing to including on your job site. However, you must be aware of any shortcomings that technology has. For example, electronic communications (phones, walkie talkies) are a great tool when you need to speak with someone that is a good distance away, but what happens when the job site is so loud that you can't hear what your coworker is saying?

Other benefits of hand signals include:

  • Sets a uniform way to communicate, nothing is left up to interpretation
  • Signals are immediate, and cannot be misheard
  • Distance does not delay the message, as it can with electric communications
  • Noise levels in the work place do not affect the communication

Is a signaller required?

Yes, there are times when a signal person is required on the job site. These situations include:

  • When the load or area near the load is not in full view of the operator
  • When the equipment will need to move throughout the job and the direction of the movement is obstructed
  • When the operator or site manager believes a signal person should be present because of site safety conditions

What does a signaller need to know?

A signal person must learn the different types of hand signals, specifically the ones that will be used on the job site. You must also learn about the equipment that is being used, including the limitations (including capacity limits) and the dynamics of crane and boom movement and lifting.

The following guidelines should be followed to ensure success in all operations:

  • The signal person should wear high-visibility clothing, especially during night work
  • The signal person should always maintain visual contact with the operator
  • If visual contact is lost, the equipment operator should immediately stop operations
  • The signal person and the operator should discuss and agree upon hand signals that will be used before operation begins
  • Make sure that the signal person is qualified and educated on standard hand signals

If you missed our post last week on Flight Safety, check it out here. Check back next week to learn about Carbon Monoxide Safety

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