Safety Up!

By Carl Potter, CSP


In Oklahoma, the term “cowboy up” means to get ready to ride or work cattle by putting on your boots, chaps, hat, and other equipment needed for the task.   I heard someone who was having some legal issues say, "I guess I need to lawyer up!" So when I say, "Safety up!" I'm saying, "Plan your job by protecting yourself , co-workers, and anyone else from hazards to prevent injuries.”


To “safety up” you need to know what to do.  Knowing what to do is about learning; to learn something you have to gain knowledge or information.  We may go to a school, attend a seminar, read a book or watch a video to receive the knowledge.  Knowledge on it's own is worthless until it is applied.  Knowing how to apply the knowledge is the result of training.


Training is accomplished by applying the knowledge we have; then we practice the application repeatedly.  As a pilot, I am constantly reading about techniques and maneuvers, when they are used and how to do them, but if I don,t get in the airplane and practice until I can do them to a certain level of acceptance, learning has not occured.  Once I feel confident in my ability to apply the knowledge and know how to perform a particular maneuver, I am usually required to prove I can do it with an observer in the airplane.  Submitting myself to be observed demonstrates my commiment to personal performace and willingness to perform the task I have learned when required.


Willingness means being motivated to do what is required when it is required.  If someone says, "Oh, I know how to do that", but is found not performing the task when required, then the process of learning may be broken.  If we are going to safety up, we need to gain the necessary knowledge, have the motivation to apply what we’ve learned, and the willingness to practice.


Here are three ways you can safety up:

  1.  Learn what regulatory bodies such as OSHA have to say about your industry.  In addition, learn what other industries are doing to protect their workers from similar hazards that exist in your industry.
  2. Practice the safety tasks you will be applying on the job.  Make sure that you are performing the tasks to a measurable standard.
  3. Submit yourself to be observed by someone else and ask for feedback.  Let everyone around you – co-workers and your supervisor, for example - know that you want their feedback and then prove it by accepting it in a positive manner.


From now on, Safety Up!  so that you can hit the goal Nobody Gets Hurt.



Carl Potter, CSP, CMC, CSP works with organizations that want to create an environment where nobody gets hurt.  As an advocate for zero-injury workplaces, he is a nationally-renowned safety speaker, author, and advisor to industry. He also enjoys flying and infusing aviation safety concepts into workplace safety practices.  For information about his programs including Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop, check out or contact him at Potter and Associates International, Inc. 800-259-6209 or

Permission granted to reprint with the following complete attribution:

© 2010 Carl Potter, Potter and Associates International.  800-259-6209

"Carl Potter spoke to our Foreman's Conference, delivering his Supervising for Safety presentation. His remarks were right on target!" - XcelEnergy
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