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Stop and ask, “Am I sure about doing this?”

As always I am looking at what causes injures in the workplace, so that I can share it with you.  Funny thing is, no matter how much research I do it mostly comes back to taking time to practice good judgment to be safe.  Many times all it takes to make the situation safe is to stop and think before performing the next step in the work.  Just in case you are a new reader of my blog, besides traveling the country as a safety speaker I am also an airplane pilot.  In fact I teach people to fly as a hobby to pay for my fun flying.  Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to practice what I speak while conducting an Angel Flight from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Quincy, Illinois.

Chance favors those in motion.

– James Austin

Spring flying in an airplane without deice equipment can be a challenge.  The risk can be mitigated by practicing good judgment and not falling into the, “I gotta get there” hazard.  For this trip I recruited my friend Chris who is a pilot to go with me.  Before we took off I did my weather preflight and realized that the freezing levels where at 8,000’ and above.  The clouds along the route of flight (where the moisture is located) were averaging about 3,500’ past Springfield, Missouri.  For my Cessna 182 this was not a problem if we fly below the clouds.  Additionally, we could go high over the clouds since the clouds were due to break up before we arrived at Quincy.  As the old saying goes, “Don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will change.”

Chris and I climbed above the clouds to enjoy a nice smooth ride while our passenger who slept off her recent bout with cancer and the effects of radiation.  As we flew N.E. (for the pilot reading this our heading was 045 degrees) the clouds continued to get closer and closer to the bottom of the airplane.  It was about the time that the landing gear started to drag through the clouds I noticed a cloud ahead that was much higher than we wanted to climb.  Our passenger would be uncomfortable because we would have had to climb to or above 11,000’ feet.  This is not a health problem for Chris or myself, but might make it hard for our passenger to breath.  Going through the cloud meant picking up ice which is not a good thing to do in an airplane without de-ice equipment.  The best decision was going to cost us time and fuel.  “Do I chance going on and maybe the cloud will be thin and we could find ourselves in clear air on the other side?”

The best decision is always the right decision.  Using good judgment before entering the cloud I called our Kansas City Controller and told him I need to be cleared for a 180 degree turn to go back and find a hole to descend through.  He promptly cleared us to turn back and 30 minutes later we descended below the clouds in to the non-freezing rainy and rougher ride to Quincy.

Later that day we talked to a pilot who was in a similar airplane to mine who obviously thought we had made a bad decision to turn back.  His statement was, “I picked up ice, but these planes will carry more than you realize.”  I hope his judgment improves before we read about him in the newspaper.

My friend Chris told me on the way back that he learned a lot from the trip and was glad he came along.  He had never experience a situation like that and appreciated the experience. 

Just like the judgment I had to exercise on the flight, you have to make judgment calls when it comes to getting the job done safe.  As in my flight, you must always look ahead before moving ahead.  Pilots call it flying ahead of the airplane.  When you get behind the airplane the consequences are not good.  When you fail to see the hazards in your workplace by not taking the time to stop and think through your next action, you are in physical danger.

Keep in mind that as long as you are not in motion you are likely not going to get hurt.  Stopping to think it through, discuss the situation with co-workers, or call your safety department or supervisor to get help may be the reason you get home safe.


Carl Potter is a Certified Safety Professional who travels the United States and Canada advising and presenting to clients in many industries.  More than five years ago Carl developed his Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop that is his most popular program.  You can learn more about scheduling one for your location by emailing him a request at: or visiting:

Also, Carl’s latest book titled: Safety Attitudes: Improving your workplace’s safety culture begins with you has already sold thousands of copies in the first 60 days of its release.

To purchase a copy for yourself or multiple copies for your workforce.  Click Here

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