Recognizing public works professionals as essential workers

Recognizing public works professionals as essential workers

Amidst a global pandemic, the words “essential worker” immediately conjure images of doctors and nurses working hard to fight disease. The phrase may also bring to mind police officers and firefighters, grocery store and gas station attendants, and postal workers. But it’s important to remember the often-unseen individuals working to keep our communities clean and safe: public works professionals.

Public works is a broad category, encompassing the people, policies and practices, and physical assets necessary for government to create and maintain physical infrastructure essential to the welfare of citizens. Public works looks different in different communities, varying based on community location, type of government, citizen needs, and available funding.

But no matter where you go, public works professionals provide essential services that protect communities from harm. They keep streets and public spaces clear of debris, preventing injuries and allowing emergency vehicles to reach people in need. They operate water and wastewater treatment facilities, ensuring our homes and businesses have access to clean water and a safe way to dispose of waste. They collect garbage, clean out storm drains, and trim trees around power lines. They perform countless other jobs, big and small, to protect public health and welfare.

When disaster strikes, particularly in the case of natural disasters, they are often on the scene as quickly as other first responders. In fact, in 2017 the American Public Works Association (APWA) adopted a symbol to identify public works personnel and acknowledge their federally mandated role as first responders.

“National Public Works Week is a great time to learn about and celebrate the contributions of public works to our modern society,” says Keith Pugh, PE, PWLF, Client Success Manager at WithersRavenel and APWA Region III Director. “Please use this opportunity to thank your local public works professionals who strive to make our communities better and safer places to live and work every single day. These folks are truly the unsung heroes of our everyday lives.”

Have a public works question? Keith Pugh can answer it! Email him at kpugh@withersravenel.com or tweet us at @WithersRavenel.

In that spirit, WithersRavenel would like to take the opportunity of National Public Works Week to recognize and thank our public works professionals for their role as essential workers. Without them, none of us would be able to keep the lights on or keep our busy lives moving. To all the public works professionals out there—we appreciate what you do, and we couldn’t do what we do without you.