There aren’t really awards for best hole in the ground. “And, in the monitoring well category, this year’s Golden Auger goes to …”

I don’t know. Maybe I missed them. I know some industry groups recognize projects or general excellence. That’s great. Having something you’ve done honored by peers gives you even more reason to come to work and continue doing what you do.

In publishing, there are awards and National Driller is a finalist for one of them — a 2016 Tabbie Award. The Tabbies get doled out by the group Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI). The awards recognized excellence in business-to-business (B2B) publications like ours. This year, the group considered entries in 18 categories, ranging from best single issue to best how-to article to best profile article. We entered the feature story and editor’s column categories. One of my editor’s columns was named among six finalists in that category.

The column appeared in November’s National Driller under the headline “When It Comes to Safety, Play It Smart.” In it, I talk about those guys (or gals) on the jobsite who take unnecessary chances with safety, and think those chances are OK because injury hasn’t yet reared its ugly head. I wrote the column after sitting through safety-related seminars at last fall’s National Drilling Association event outside Baltimore. It uses humor to drive home the message that if you’re not safety conscious, you’re not doing the job right.

I talk a lot about safety. From an editor’s perspective, it’s easier — and makes a lot more sense — for me to talk about safety (and business issues, which I mention often) than issues specific to how to drill a hole. I joke that I can’t tell readers a thing about drilling, but it’s true. I leave the drilling expertise to you, the reader, and my usual lineup of columnists.

In my three and a half years at the helm of National Driller, I’ve seen how important safety is and have positioned my editorials as that nagging voice in your ear telling you to walk the jobsite again or reminding you to wear your hardhat since you only have one head.

At that NDA event, it was fairly common to see older, veteran drillers with busted backs from years of heavy lifting or missing digits as a reminder of a fateful pinch point. Columnist Wayne Nash has told horror stories in my pages about fatalities and maimings in the oil field. Columnist John Schmitt, a big proponent of hardhats, has told me about how quickly a situation can shift, leaving a driller or helper with a severe head injury. I’ve heard stories about drillers almost losing an eye when breakout wrenches snapped.

Given all that, I don’t mind being a nag. It’s great that my nagging got some little recognition within the publishing industry. But, it’s not about me. It’s about you, the reader. It’s about reminding you that leaving the jobsite each day with all your fingers intact and going home to your family is important — more important than even finishing the job, because if you’re not around to finish the job, you’re not around to bid on the next one.

It’s great that an industry group effectively told me, “Hey, that’s a nice hole you’ve drilled there.” I am proud of what we do here at National Driller — and I really liked that editorial, in particular (and this story, written from the same NDA event). Still, I can drill home an excellent point about safety all I want, but if the idea isn’t cased, grouted and completed in readers’ minds, it isn’t going to produce action. So … here’s another reminder: Don’t be that “stupid lucky” person on the jobsite, and call it out when you see someone acting “stupid lucky.” 

If that message sinks in with even one or two people out there, that’s worth an award.

Stay safe out there, drillers. 

UPDATE: My editorial won the top award in it's category.