Purdue It Safely.


Red Angle is excited to announce we are partnering with Purdue University’s Building Construction Management (BCM) Program to include Safety Spanish skills in Professor James Jenkins Safety Course this Fall.


Purdue recognizes Hispanics are disproportionately more likely to be injured or killed on the job due to communication and cultural barriers. We’ll be working together to prepare Purdue’s BCM graduates to ensure Language Barriers do not become Safety Barriers.


I took a tour of the BCM facilities at Purdue and was very impressed – and a bit jealous. The BCM students get to work in a 2-story lab with tools, equipment, and material. The place is a veritable construction playground. Among other things, Purdue BCM students learn how to operate a crane (Yes… the BCM lab has their own crane) safely and effectively, set concrete forms, land trusses, and install windows.




When leading and managing a jobsite, there is no substitute for having physically done the work yourself. You lead and manage better having walked a day in their shoes.



Today we’ll cover 3 terms related to Crane Operation and Safety.


Crane :: Grúa (GROOH-ah)

Look :: Mira :: (MEE-rah)

Careful :: Cuidado :: (kwee-DAH-doh)



CRANE :: Grúa (GROOH-ah)


A crane is the most visible indication of a city’s construction activity. Más grúas = Más Construcción. As I travel the Midwest, I am happy to see more and more of them popping up.


To remember Crane, think about how groovy they are.

Groovy Grúas.


Groovy Grúa (GROOH-ah)



Yesterday I was speaking with Brad Benhart, the Assistant Department Head of the BCM Program. He was telling me about the trip to Saudi Arabia he took last year with his students. They visited the construction site of an all-women’s university. They were building everything… at the same time. Literally.


Looking at a picture of the students with the Saudi site in the background, I counted over 20 cranes. Benhart said the site had 152 cranes. That alone would be worth the 20-hour flight to Saudi Arabia….


Can you even imagine 152 grúas?


In English, Crane the construction machine and Crane the bird are pronounced the same. Maybe this is because if you’ve ever witnessed 152 cranes at one time, it looks a lot like a flock of tall, spindly birds. In Spanish, the 2 Cranes are very similar:


Construction Crane :: Grúa :: (GROOH-ah)

Bird Crane :: Grulla :: (GROOH-yah)




LOOK :: Mira :: (MEE-rah)


Cranes can be peligroso (pay-lee-GROH-soh) dangerous. There is a reason OSHA recently issued new Crane and Derrick standards – they injure and kill a lot of people every year. A last-ditch effort to save someone’s life is to yell ¡Mira! when something (like the swinging arm of a crane, perhaps) is about to lop the head off a worker on your site.


Think of the Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino – seeing her may cause you to look twice.



Mira, Mira Sorvina!




CAREFUL :: Cuidado :: (kwee-DAH-doh)


Considering the importance of Safety on a jobsite, every English-speaking manager should know Cuidado.


There is no single better way for a construction manager to express the importance of Safety than to communicate it directly to the workers on his job daily.


I think this is important, so if I may….


There is no single better way for a construction manager to express the importance of Safety than to communicate it directly to the workers on his job daily.


As you walk your job, look the Spanish-speakers in the eyes (this is helpful – it means you acknowledge their existence), and say Cuidado. Do this frequently and this one word can help build a culture of Safety among the Hispanic workers. 


Don’t rely on the professional game of Telephone when it comes to Safety on your job: You tell the bilingual foreman and you hope he conveys it to his men.


El Juego de Teléfono... not ideal on the jobsite.


There is a reason Telephone is a childhood game. It’s childish. The display of human communicative inefficiency is the point of the game – it’s funny how poorly humans relay simple messages. When it comes to your jobsite, your company, and your career… not so funny.



Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. His book Spanish Twins is available for purchase as an eBook and hardcopy through his website.  

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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