Much of communication still relies on unspoken behaviors such as postures,
\facial expressions, body language, and gestures. Gestures, specifically hand signals,
may convey words such as “No” with a simple shaking back-and-forth of the hand or feelings
such as anger with the raising of a single finger. Every day, the average citizen willuse a
few simple hand movements to communicate and think nothing of it. Some rely on hand signals
for their profession and safety, while others rely on them solely for rude purposes.
How you used to communicate in fifth grade behind the teacher's back
For the hearing impaired or deaf,
hand signals act as their main form of communication with the world.
Using different gestures, they can express their feelings and thoughts
without having to speak. More importantly, this system creates a unique culture for
signers. For these people, signing acts not only as a form of communication,
but as a social tie binding them together in their unique understanding of a shared language.
Funny picture? Throw a gang sign - instantly hilarious/ironic/etc.
Other groups also use hand signs to communicate. Silent communication
becomes especially important when trying to avoid law enforcement. For gangs, hand signals
act as a major form of identification and communication. Every gang uses unique signs to
indicate their gang membership, standing, and a variety of other things. “Flashing”, “throwing”,
or “stacking” hand signs acts a safer alternative to bright, easily identifiable gang wear. Most of the time,
a gang member will throw gang signs when he is in the area to “do business”. With a quick flash of his hands,
a gangster manages to disrespect a rival gang, claim his membership, and indicate his intentions.
Because so many signs from so many gangs exist, police have no way of understanding all of these signals.
As a result, gang members manage to protect themselves and their business with their form of silent communication.
Football Referee Hand Signals
Classic sports fan celebration move
Traders used to use these hand signs to communicate across the stock exchange.
Plane Hand Signals
The language of motion is universal (even in France)
On the other end of the spectrum, certain industries require
hand signal use. Examples of jobs in these industries include football refereeing, stock trading,
and air traffic signaling. These workers rely on hand signals to convey their important messages
across distances that the human voice cannot reach. Some of these industries use similar or identical
gestures to convey very different messages. For example, two hands in the air might mean touchdown,
successful field goal, or successful extra point to a football player, but to a pilot it would mean too high.
In trading, two hands with their palms facing away from the signaler would indicate sell, but on a football
referee would mean pass interference. Because these slight variations of movement can express very different
sentiments, signs illustrating the movement and meaning behind these gestures act as valuable resources in many industries.
Signals can get confusing. Signs such as these two help clarify their meanings and prevent accidents.
Crane operators also depend on hand signals to perform different functions with the crane. Signs such as these, sold on MySafetySign.com
, clearly indicate the hand motions and their respective meanings. Obviously, cranes can cause serious damage. Crane operators and their directors must exercise extreme caution to avoid miscommunication and, in turn, avoid accidents. Even with significant training, new operators or signalers may forget some of the basic motions. Signs, however, can help prevent miscommunication by reminding workers what specific signals mean. These particular signs come in 10” by 14” pieces of plastic, aluminum, or laminated vinyl, perfect for wall mounting by heavy crane traffic areas.
Now if only the Occupy Wall Street protestors would make a sign to clarify their unique hand language.
More Hands in the Safety World
Hands are evocative. You recoil when you see a safety sign with hands being pinched or mangled.
You stand back when you see a hand about to be elctrocuted or burnt.
As a result hands are some of the most powerful symbols used on safety and warning signs.