A hardhat primarily is to protect a person from being injured ... Wearing a hardhat also signifies that the person’s personal safety is important to him. Many people dislike wearing a hardhat; I don’t understand why.

Many people aren’t going to like or agree with this month’s story, but it’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

When I go to drilling sites, I seldom see the employees wearing hardhats. A hardhat primarily is to protect a person from accidentally bumping his head on something, or from being injured from something falling and hitting him in the head. Wearing a hardhat also signifies that the person’s personal safety is important to him. Many people dislike wearing a hardhat; I don’t understand why.

First of all, it’s an OSHA safety requirement. In the event an OSHA inspector happens to step on a jobsite and find an employee not wearing a hardhat, the company is responsible, and will be heavily fined. The site supervisor, the person in charge, the driller and the person not wearing hardhat will be severely reprimanded. It goes on their permanent records. There are no excuses!

Have you ever been around heavy equipment and accidentally rose up under a piece of equipment and bumped your head? Yes, you have! If you were wearing a hardhat, you usually just said, “@#$%^&*!,” and continued about your work. But if you weren’t wearing a hardhat, you usually would see stars for a while, or possibly even get a big knot or, worse yet, a bad cut on your head, sometimes requiring medical treatment.

Years ago, my dad and I were in a restaurant, wearing our hardhats, when a handicapped man in a booth got our attention. He wrote us a note because he couldn’t speak. His note said, “Always wear your hardhat. I didn’t wear mine and a piece of steel fell on my head – that’s what’s wrong with me today. Doctors say it damaged my brain.” That man’s story has stuck with me all my life.

I had two uncles killed on oilrigs. Both were old-time drillers. One was trying to pull a stuck drill stem. He made everyone else leave the drill floor, and he pulled the derrick down on himself. The other one was killed when the drill line broke, and the heavy traveling block fell, driving him through the drill floor. In both of these cases, hardhats didn’t save them, but I guarantee that they were wearing them.

Drilling companies, their drillers and their crews are professionals, and should present themselves as such by always wearing their hardhats. Be proud of your profession. If you aren’t, you’re just an operator – in that case, get out of it and do something else.

Watch oil drillers on TV and in movies like Hellfighters. They always wear their hardhats in restaurants, bars and almost anywhere they go because they are proud that they are drillers.

A good driller has to be a salesperson, politician, mechanic, plumber, electrician, carpenter and many other things. Some even have to be good fighters!

I’ve been around drilling equipment all my life, and you’ll always see me wearing my hardhat because I want to be safe, and I am proud to be a (been-there) driller.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen people injured on drills. I’ve even seen a few killed, however, most accidents were caused by careless, over-confident or inexperienced employees. Many were caused by their not wearing hardhats, gloves or steel-toed shoes at the time.

I remember people asking my dad, Porky Sr., while observing us drilling oil wells, “Have you ever had a man hurt on a rig?” My dad would say, “Nope, never hurt a man – killed a few, but never hurt one.” They then usually would back away from the drill a little.

Wear your hardhat, keep it clean and keep it on!

Note: Hardhats are different today. The small, plastic, hardhat caps are for engineers. The hardhats with a brim all around are for the real drillers like John Wayne in Hellfighters.  ND