Bouwspraak (Construction Sign Language), one language at the construction site

Universal gestures that enable people of different nationalities to work together more effectively on the construction site during both normal and noisy conditions. That's Bouwspraak.

Bouwspraak (Construction Sign Language), one language at the construction site

The construction industry is one of the top three most unsafe sectors. That's why there is a lot of focus on working safely. Communication plays a crucial role in maintaining a safe construction site. It's not only important to understand each other's language, but also to understand each other's meanings. This can oftentimes be a challenge. Especially with an increasing number of nationalities on the construction site, which can lead to misunderstandings.

That's why in 2018, it was decided to develop "Bouwspraak" (Construction Sign Language). Of course, this is not the only solution, but one of many measures that will help to make the construction site safer. With Bouwspraak, sector parties FNV Bouwen & Wonen, CNV Vakmensen, Bouwend Nederland, Aannemersfederatie Nederland, Vereniging van Waterbouwers and NVB are joining forces for a safer sector.

Bouwspraak is a universal set of gestures which can be used on construction sites to warn each other for unsafe situations. These gestures can be communicated from a distance on the construction site, allowing workers to warn each other in dangerous situations. In addition to the gestures, there are also signs that indicate the dangers of flammable substances, unsafe situations, or environmentally hazardous substances, where the use of personal protective equipment is necessary. The aim is for everyone on the construction site to master this Bouwspraak.

In collaboration with Volandis, Novaware developed the website where all the gestures are explained in text, video and pictograms.


As mentioned, the goal is for every construction worker to master the gestures in the future. Bouwspraak has therefore been incorporated into a collective labour agreement between employers and employees. The intention is for Bouwspraak to also be included in the Occupational Health and Safety Catalogue. This means that Bouwspraak will become mandatory.

The gestures have also recently been included in the GPI (Generic Entrance Instruction). Workers, suppliers and temporary staff who log in are now referred to Bouwspraak and other gestures. According to Volandis, Bouwspraak will play a bigger role in the next update.