Human performance improvement toolbox frontline employee student training guide

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June 26, 2014

Phonetic Alphabet

This guide is intended to support employee training in the application of human performance improvement (HPI) concepts and trainees shall refer to this guide periodically during training. It is recommended this guide be printed & provided to each employee prior to conducting each class. All questions/issues regarding content should be forwarded to the human resources training department.
All training completions supporting this initiative shall be documented in the Learning Management System (LMS); a training attendance sheet shall be completed by all employees attending HPI training and submitted electronically to the human resources training department for LMS data entry.


As professionals and as a company, we strive for operational excellence.
When properly trained and knowledgeable people use the correct tools to perform work or operations in accordance with approved procedures, our work can be accomplished safely and efficiently. The ultimate goal is to reduce and eliminate human errors and process shortcomings that result in unintended outcomes, such as injuries, outages, switching errors, damage to assets, etc. This guide provides information on the following thirteen human performance improvement concepts, otherwise referred to as “tools”, as these concepts are intended to be used to minimize human error.


This tool is used during verbal communication only to ensure each letter sounds distinctly different, preventing confusion between similar sounding letters, such as "m" and "n” or “b”, “c”, “d”, and “e”. The phonetic alphabet clarifies communications that may be garbled during verbal communication.

When the only distinguishing difference between two component designators is a single letter, then the phonetic alphabet form of the letter should be substituted for the distinguishing character.

When to Use the Tool:

  • When communicating alpha-numeric information related to plant equipment noun names.

  • For train, phase, and channel designations.

  • When the sender or receiver feels there is a possibility of misunderstanding such as, sound alike systems, high noise areas, radio/ telephone communication where reception is poor, etc.

How to Use this Tool:

A = Alpha

N = November

B = Bravo

O = Oscar

C = Charlie

P = Papa

D = Delta

Q = Quebec

E = Echo

R = Romeo

F = Foxtrot

S = Sierra

G = Golf

T = Tango

H = Hotel

U = Uniform

I = India

V = Victor

J = Juliet

W = Whiskey

K = Kilo

X = X-Ray

L = Lima

Y = Yankee

M = Mike

Z = Zulu

Behaviors to Avoid:

  • Not using phonetics for equipment label designations

  • Using phonetic words other than those designated, e.g., BAKER vs. BRAVO

  • Using phonetic designators when writing

  • Non-standard acronyms and abbreviations

  • Similar-sounding words like increase and decrease

  • Slang terms in place of standard terms

  • Not using phonetics for equipment labels


Using the phonetic alphabet, the word “knows” is spelled: “Kilo November Oscar Whiskey Sierra”. The word “nose” sounds exactly alike, but is spelled “November Oscar Sierra Echo”, which sounds completely different when spoken.

Learning Activity: Spell your name below using the phonetic alphabet in the space below.

Student Guide – Phonetic Alphabet

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