While crews were working on nearby sewer repair, one of the many pieces of equipment they used was a trench box. This contraption is designed to keep the dirt from caving in on the utility workers as they go into the ditch and it provides protection from an unexpected collapse. It’s usually just a precautionary device but could prove lifesaving in certain circumstances.

Supervisors need to provide the equivalent of trench boxes for other types of work, serving as a shield that assures their workers they will be protected and kept from the forces of politics caving in around them. If leaders want their teams to assume risk, they need to provide some support against the pressures of opposition that can be just as damaging to a career as a dirt collapse.

The utility crews know that proactive safety is always better than being reactive. All leaders should embrace that concept.

Photo credit: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

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