Proper Radio Usage – Radios are a tool to be used properly

Portable radios and CB radios are used in many different types of workplaces. They serve as an important tool and safeguard for individuals at a worksite. Radios allow for communication across long distances which can help ensure that work tasks are completed safely and efficiently. It is important to use these communication tools correctly in order to allow for messages to get across to the workers who need to receive them. In times of emergency, radio communication can make a real difference.


Tips for Using Radios to Communicate on the Job

  • Never use radios to joke around. The more unnecessary chatter on the radio the less likely someone else is able to get through with an important message. At the same time, someone is joking on the radio another individual could be trying to tell a coworker to stop work in order to prevent an injury from occurring.
  • Be clear when you speak. Be clear in both what you say and how you say it. Use terms or language that everyone involved in the task will understand what you mean. Be sure everyone involved in the task understands what to do when task specific directions are given on the radio. (For example- What are the specific actions if someone says to “shut it down”?). Unclear messages can lead to incidents and injuries. Was that “go” or “no”?
  • Confirm any messages received. A simple 10-4 or okay can do, but if it is for a critical task or you were unsure of the message, repeat it back to the sender. Repeating and confirming a message can help ensure that mistakes will not be made due to unclear communication. Never guess on the directions someone gave over the radio.
  • If excessive communication is being made on the radio in an attempt to understand the work task it may be appropriate to stop work and get the work group together to ensure everyone is on the same page. Too much communication on the radio can show that not everyone fully understands what to do which can lead to problems.


Alternates to Crowded Radio Channels

• If radio channels are “crowded” with many users then select separate channels for differing work groups. Limit it to 3 to 4 channels to a maximum on a job site.

• Does all communication need to be on a radio? Not really, but the method needs to be worked out before the work starts. One honk to start and 2 to back-up, or flashing the lights or possibly a thumbs up is all that is needed to convey routine movements and commands. If alternate methods are used it can leave needed air time for more important messages. Be sure all in the work group know the alternate methods to avoid confusion.



Communication is critical to the safety of everyone at a worksite. Radios play an important part at many worksites for workers to be able to properly communicate with one another. Consider the above tips for proper site communication and how it can be improved for everybody’s safety and productivity.


“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”

Nat Turner, 1700’s Social Reformer


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