Sep 06, 2019

Trench Trajectory

Bob Crossen, Water & Wastes Digest senior managing editor.
Bob Crossen, Water & Wastes Digest senior managing editor.

Several times this year I have read articles on social media about people dying while working in trenches. These posts often get shared in industry groups and inevitably receive many comments from peers and industry professionals. Most people express grief for the loss of fellow professionals in the industry, but many also critique the safety measures used. 

“This could have (and should have) been prevented.”

“Always use proper shoring.”

Trench safety can be overlooked and brief moments of laziness can have fatal consequences. In most cases, cave-ins are preventable, and Doug Riseden has been on a continuous mission to end fatalities due to improper safety in trenches for years.

Riseden is WWD’s 2019 Industry Icon not only for his constant work preaching safety at events and conferences, but also for his history working as public works director for communities in North Carolina as well as his six months of work in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. During that brief tenure, he ensured military bases had water that met U.S. Army standards.

It is these things that set an individual apart when we review the nominations for WWD Industry Icon. Riseden felt the need to serve for a greater purpose beyond his own community and now channels that energy into teaching safety practices to national audiences. But more than that, it is his passion for people and management that also sets him apart. During his career, Riseden had a discussion with another supervisor about a problem employee, and eventually took that worker under his wing. The change of department and change of attitude pushed him to new heights, and the employee went on to become one of the best workers Riseden ever managed.

Despite his position as a supervisor, however, Riseden continued to be the first one in the trench to lead by example. Therefore, it is no wonder he holds trench safety close to his heart and no wonder that we have named him our 2019 WWD Industry Icon.

About the author

Bob Crossen is senior managing editor for Water & Wastes Digest. Crossen can be reached at [email protected].