Chairman’s Message: Be Ready for New Work with A Safely Trained Workforce

Atwell

I hope with the start of construction season you find your company’s backlog full and your crews on the job sites working safely. NUCA’s been working hard in Washington on infrastructure issues this spring, and we’ve been in the virtual halls of Congress lobbying on your behalf for more federal resources. And it’s working.

I’m happy to report that the U.S. Senate approved a bill that doubles the amount of money for water and wastewater projects. The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (S. 914) includes more than $30 billion in funding for the Clean Water SRF and Drinking Water SRF, the two major sources of federal money for our projects. S. 914 also includes $6 billion in grant funding. It has taken years to get this bill this far, so it’s a victory for us. The bill now heads to the U.S. House for a vote.

Infrastructure was a major discussion topic at this year’s Washington Summit on May 26, and I hope you were able to participate. If all goes well with S. 914 and other proposed legislation, our industry should be looking at a major infusion of resources for long-neglected infrastructure projects. We must be ready for this work, and that means we emphasize safety in the new trenches.

June is Trench Safety Month and our fifth annual Trench Safety Stand Down week (June 14-18). Our people working in and around excavation sites need to be aware of the dangers and safety protocols to avoid injury or worse, so I urge your company to set aside time that week to discuss your company’s safety plans and procedures with them.

June also marks the return of NUCA’s Train-the-Trainer. New and inexperienced employees will be entering our workforce, and older trainers retiring. All our companies will require more trainers sooner or later. As noted above, a lot of work is coming down the pipeline and the last thing we need is to be caught too short staffed to get it done.

When our elected officials talk about infrastructure, they are talking about our world of pipes, concrete, dirt, gravel, re-bar, trucks, excavators, and hard-working men and women. We’re the experts on infrastructure, and in 2021 they are looking to send our industry a wealth of resources we’ve been fighting for years to acquire. We’re going to put those new resources to work, replacing obsolete infrastructure that we’ve been repairing for years with new systems, or finally having the money available for that new wastewater treatment plant your county needs to build to handle a larger population.

NUCA is optimistic that our hard work in Washington may finally deliver the projects our members are meant to build. Nothing in life is certain, but this year seems to be the time for infrastructure to be the vehicle that builds a better future for all Americans.

Sincerely yours,

Lauren Atwell, NUCA Chairman of the Board / Petticoat-Schmitt Civil Contractors, Inc.

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