Communication 101: Best practices for efficiency and safety

How to guides

A two-way radio is a critical communications tool in a variety of scenarios: construction, engineering, schools, hospitals and large public gatherings. But while everyone may be used to using their mobile phones – where there are no rules to worry about – it’s important to ensure staff are familiar with the etiquette of two-way radio communications.

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Basic training can make the difference between efficient and timely communications and response – and a complete communications breakdown between staff.

So it’s a good idea to ensure everyone receives training on how to use and speak into a two-way radio. And that they are given some core radio communication rules to follow.

New joiners should always be coached in the protocols that specifically apply to your operational set up. Their safety and security in the workplace, and that of colleagues, will depend upon this.

Here are some basic radio communication guidelines that could prove useful:

Perform radio checks

  • Before going on duty, ensure your radio battery is charged and power is on
  • Keep volume high enough to hear calls
  • Make regular radio checks to ensure everything is working and you are still in range

Prepare before you speak

  • Decide what you are going to say and who your message is meant for
  • Identify yourself before you talk – memorise call signs and use yours before speaking
  • Don’t transmit sensitive or confidential information – you may be using a shared channel – unless you are sure it is appropriate
  • Speak slowly and clearly, so you can be understood
  • Say ‘over’ to indicate you are finished so the other party know they can speak or reply

Keep it simple

  • Avoid long complicated sentences – be precise and to the point
  • If you have multiple things to cover, speak one point then say ‘break’, wait a couple of seconds then speak the next point and again say ‘break’ – this allows the other party to speak or ask for clarification
  • Don’t use abbreviations unless these are well understood by your group
  • Terminate the call by saying ‘out’

Stay on point

  • The radio is for sending and receiving important messages – and not for gossip/small talk which blocks channels for other radio users
  • Don’t interrupt others when they are speaking – wait patiently until they finish
  • Use the Phonetic Alphabet to spell out key words: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu

The health, safety and operational efficiency of your teams will depend on everyone having a good grasp of radio communications etiquette.

Even with the best two-way radio handset technology in place, streamlined and effective communications depend on everyone speaking from the same ‘talk sheet’.