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Competencies covered

MSMSUP102: Communicate in the workplace

MSMSUP106: Work in a team

Signs and hand signals

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There are some instances when the best way to transmit information is to do it visually.

This may be because the workplace is noisy or there is some distance between the people communicating.

Or it could be because there are general risks in an area, requiring everyone entering it to take precautions.

The simplest way to get information across under these conditions is to use workplace signs or hand signals.

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Safety signs

Signs with a red circle and diagonal bar through the centre are called prohibition signs, meaning 'not permitted'.

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A red circle specifies a restriction.                                                                          
This sign says that the speed limit is 5 kilometres per hour.

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A blue circular background indicates a mandatory, or 'must do' sign.                                                  
This sign is telling you to wear a hard hat.

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A yellow triangle means warning.                                                                              
In this case, the sign is saying 'keep clear'.

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Danger signs are used to refer to life threatening hazards.                                                  
This sign would be put over the entranceway to a confined space.

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A green rectangular background is used for emergency information.                                                  
The most common example is an 'exit' sign.

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A red rectangular background is used for information about fire services.                                                 
This sign indicates that a fire extinguisher is nearby.

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Hand signals

Workers in a team often develop their own hand signals to convey particular instructions or directions.

However, there are certain signals used in crane and dogging operations that you can apply to lots of other applications.

These include directing forklift drivers, reversing vehicles, and operators of scissor lifts and gantry cranes.

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The most universally understood hand signal is stop.

Hold your hand head-high, with your palm towards the person you're signalling.

As with all signals, make sure your actions are big and obvious.

Don't use half-hearted movements.

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To indicate go left or go right, point in that direction and move your whole hand in a sweeping action in the same direction.

Again, use strong decisive actions to signal your directions.

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To indicate to a driver to raise a load, use your index finger to point up, with the rest of your hand closed.

Move your whole hand up to make the direction obvious.

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To lower a load, point down, moving your whole hand down at the same time.

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Learning activity

Audio 14 (mp3 |6|KB)

Below are some common workplace signs. See if you can guess their meanings.

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