Since November 2019, the Signed Safety at Work consortium has been working to enhance health and safety communication in noisy workplaces.

SSaW is creating a sign vocabulary (based on International Sign) of around 200 essential Health and Safety (H&S) words and phrases (in multilingual glossary and e-learning resource format), to facilitate workplace communication between all employees, whatever their hearing and language ability. It is expected that two target groups who will particularly benefit from improved workplace communication are D/deaf/hearing-impaired (D/deaf/HI) workers, and migrant workers.


This objective has been formulated around known needs, based on existing research policy, and is strongly aligned with Erasmus+ objectives and priorities.


The vocabulary is based on common safety phrases used in manufacturing and construction. Examples include “Danger of falling objects” and “Stop the machine!”.  The phrases are also aligned with the European Framework Directive 89/391 on Safety and Health at Work.

Manufacturing and construction are industries which:

•  are noisy (so it’s difficult to shout a message to colleagues)

•  have long-term employees who become hearing-impaired (because of working in a noisy environment)

•  have migrant employees (sometimes with difficulty communicating in the local language)

•  have Deaf employees (sometimes with difficulty communicating in spoken language)

Having a way to sign urgent messages makes it easier for several groups of people to work together (people with different levels of hearing and speaking capability).

The more quickly people can pass urgent messages, the safer they will be in the workplace.

Employers sometimes worry about health and safety communication so much, that they are less likely to employ deaf or hearing-impaired employees, so our project will also encourage employment for this group.

Older employees, who have a lot of essential on-the-job experience, may find it difficult to continue working if they become hearing-impaired during their working life, and find it harder when colleagues communicate with them. Our project encourages them to stay on in the workforce, which retains vital skills that could otherwise be lost


The project has developed 4 intellectual outputs:


O1 – Sign vocabulary

Around 200 health and safety words and phrases, created in English by experts in manufacturing, health and safety and sign language, then transferred into a signed form (based on International Sign wherever possible).


O2 – Online glossary

Glossary with videos of all the sign vocabulary signs, with translation (and additional information where required) in English, British Sign Language, German, Austrian Sign Language, Italian and Italian Sign Language. This increases the possibility of mobility for people who learn the vocabulary. For example, someone working in the UK could learn the vocabulary, and then transfer to a workplace in Austria or Italy, and still use the same vocabulary for urgent messages.

Online glossary is available here


O3 – E-learning resource

Online (desktop and mobile) e-learning resource with bite-sized, scenario-based learning activities, taking videos from the online glossary in order to teach the sign vocabulary. It is structured in 14 modules and it is an user-friendly and engaging way to learn and practise the sign vocabulary


O4 – Guidelines for diversity in health and safety

Information on national health and safety qualifications, how the e-learning resource can be incorporated into VET providers’ existing health and safety training courses, and information about how people with hearing impairment can specialise in a career in health and safety.


In order to achieve all these objectives, the project is composed by:

1. University of Wolverhampton (UoW) – UK

2. Universitaet Klagenfurt (UNI-KLU) – Austria

3. Istituto Statale Sordi di Roma (ISSR) – Italy

4. Searchlighter – UK

5. Bellyfeel Media Limited (BFM) – UK

6. Technological Research Centre of Furniture and Wood of the Region of Murcia (CETEM) – Spain

7. Výzkumný Ústav Bezpečnosti Práce (VUBP) – Czech Republic