Last week I watched in utter fascination as workers from the water department of my home town effected some repairs to water mains in my neighborhood. They used heavy equipment to dig trenches to be able to get at the water lines some of which have been in place for almost 100 years. Whenever trenches are dug, if they are greater than 5 feet in depth, then a protective system must be used before workers can enter that trench to work on the lines. The three most commonly used kinds of protective systems are: shoring, shielding, and sloping.
Shoring , whether the traditional timber shores or the modern hydraulic shores, brace against and hold up the walls of an excavation, preventing cave-ins. Shielding devices, commonly called trench boxes, shields, or coffins, are not designed to prevent a trench wall from collapsing, but rather serves as a “shield” to the workers within the structure should a cave-in occur. With both shoring and shielding, the workers are only protected as long as they stay within the protective confines of the systems. Sloping refers to the cutting back of the trench walls at such an angle that there is little chance for collapse.
This made me think of a small business and the many protective systems that should be in place in many of the critical areas to protect both customers and employees. It is critical that a business owner understand and have in place rules that trigger the use of these protective systems:
Cash Flow – What level of cash do you need and can you project the cash flow over time. Is there a cash point which triggers going after working capital.
Inventory – Do you have an on-hand quantity for your fast moving and high profit items that triggers an order. Do you have minimum order quantities for these products
Employee levels – Are there certain events (holidays, seasons, weather conditions) that trigger the need for extra employees and are you prepared to have them in place?
Your small business needs protective systems in place and you should plan for those in advance.