I have a question for folks who pride themselves on their strong work ethic: Are you OK?

You work crazy hours and try to fit in family in between. You travel long distances for jobs and stay days, or even weeks, away from home to finish a project. Are you making time to take care of yourself?

Before you dismiss me as a soft, suburban office guy, think about the gnarly older drillers you know. I’ve seen them at trade shows and on jobsites. They’re tough as nails, but that’s because the job of driller hammers the body. Maybe they walk a little hunched over because of recurring back pain. Maybe they have a couple of fingers that just don’t work right due to a pipe mishap decades ago. Maybe they feel and look strong, but their ticker holds a grudge from years of fast food on the way to the next project.

This month’s You Know the Drill touches on a recurring theme in this industry: a strong work ethic.

“I think if you asked most drillers when the last time their week stopped at 40 hours,” says Alex Unverzagt, a senior well installer at Envirocore in Ohio, “they would just laugh, and that is just the nature of the work.”

Unverzagt, of course, is right. Drillers work hard. It’s not just the nature of the job. It is the job. They work hard in 15 degrees and 30-mile-per-hour sleet. They work hard under beating sun with humidity so high, they feel they might drown in sweat. They work hard in remote areas far from friends and family. See a theme here?

The work isn’t going to change, but it can come at a cost. What can change is how folks react to the long, hard hours — how they mitigate that cost. They can better serve themselves and, ultimately, the families that depend on them. How? Probably the same advice the doctor gave on that last checkup (you do go to the doctor, right?).

Eat better: Big Macs have little redeeming food value. Same goes for that creepy sausage rolling on the warmer at 7-11. I get it. Salt, fat and carbs taste good. Me and pulled pork sandwiches smothered in sauce go way back. I have to make a conscious effort to get fruit into my life, but find it worthwhile when I do.

Exercise: This is tough enough for me, working in an office. I can’t imagine how hard it is to want to exercise when you bust your butt doing actual physical labor. But cardio is critical, even if it’s just a brisk walk or some quick burpees. If you have a tough time wanting to exercise after working all day, get up 30 minutes early.

Drink less: You can have my IPA when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. But if I consistently have too many IPAs, my liver will make sure you get that chance sooner rather than later. This one can prove tough for some folks, particularly those who “medicate” their aches and pains away with a stiff drink or even a six pack. Think moderation.

This all comes across a little high-handed, I’m sure. I don’t mean to lecture folks. Just take it as a reminder that the job is hard enough, so take it easy on yourself. Your family and friends will appreciate you being around — and in one working piece — for the long haul.

What do you think? Have you had to downshift a bit to stay healthy and on the job? Do you know drillers who thought themselves invincible, only to get a health scare? What advice do you have for people to maintain a work/life balance in such a demanding job? Share your thoughts. Send an email to verduscoj@bnpmedia.com.

Stay safe out there, drillers.