The Safety Weenie

I don’t remember much about the first safety “officer” I saw on the rig. I saw him too. Never met the man. He was one of those “Corporate” types as mysterious as the mind of a woman: one of those we whispered about in the confines of the doghouse but dared not talk to lest we incur the wrath of Old Drill. This one, not in particular but typical at the time, or so I soon learned, made a tour of the rig, nodding and shaking his head, then promptly crawled into his car and sped away to his lofty office to pen a list of the “deficiencies” he observed. It would be days before we’d learn of his findings.

I always thought: What? If the items were so important that someone could get hurt if they were not corrected, why didn’t the man point them out then and there?

From then on—Safety Weenie, not officer.

Hate to say, but I never had an ounce of respect for a safety weenie. To me, they were the guys who couldn’t roughneck, work derricks, or drill, so instead of sending them packing, the company moved them into the safety department. They got a participation trophy. Couldn’t do the job, but somehow, suddenly, they knew how to do my job safer than I did. Drove me nuts.

Five years ago, I heard that the company I presently work for had employed Safety Weenies to work a rotation on the rig… With me. It was like someone telling me “Wednesday, you’re going to come down with a case of the flu.”

Well, Wednesday arrived, and the helicopter with my new safety weenie touched down on the deck. He stepped into my office, and I sized him up—bald as a newborn piglet, built like a brick outhouse, gray mustache so 55 or so. I looked at the name on his shirt and asked, “Co-op?” He said, “Coop.” I stuck out my hand and he clasped it with an iron grip and squeezed until my eyes bugged out and my left hand was glad it wasn’t involved.

That day Ricky Cooper, Coop, shattered my opinion about Safety Weenies, and he did it with more action than words. He’d been a subsea engineer and a crane operator and had moved to the safety side of the business to make a difference. He did. He worked with the crews, outside, on the deck, rain or shine, day or night. He taught practical skills and observations the men could use. He was the first one to lend a hand, give a pat on the back, or bow his head. The men saw that he cared, and they listened.

Rick is retired now. Forced to by the four-letter word CANCER. He’s fighting. He’s winning.

We miss him out here in our little, fast-paced world of rattling iron, pulsing mud pumps and swinging cranes. He made a difference in the lives of everyone he met and is not forgotten.

I miss him.

Rick didn’t make lists. He made sure there was nothing to note.

6 thoughts on “The Safety Weenie

  1. Excellent David. Very well put there are those diamonds in the rough and although I can’t say with 100% accuracy I believe I know Coop and will add him to my prayers. It takes less time to correct an issue when you first identify it then to go back and add it to some list that goes through everyone in town then comes to the rig level to be corrected.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ricky is my cousin that I have not seen in years but truly love him. Our lives have taken different paths from Red Level, Alabama …earning a living can take you far away. I pray for his health, comfort, and strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Don’t know him,but one of his sister in laws is a dear fried of mine…I can assure she and Dan,Ricks brother, are some wonderful christian folks….She ask all her friends here in the Shorterville and surrounding area to please keep Rick in our prayers…..I do and will continue
    too as well…miracles happen every day,so we praying for one for Rick!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve known the Cooper Boys my entire life, they were my neighbors. There is not a finer family. I am in safety as well but in the nuclear energy industry. i hope I can touch lives like Rick has done and will continue to do. He and his family will be in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember Cooper , a real down to earth guy , a tight grip indeed he had , he said a crane op first lesson is pull the handle see what it do , he called it pull do operators. I wish him and family the best . Like I said couldn’t ask for a better guy out on the rig . Guys like that or not around . Just like the story starts off . Safety guys are usually guys that don’t have the skills . I was a very frustrated individual at times aboard the Sevan La . Management was terrible , ol Coop Come around and we have a few good laughs .

    Liked by 1 person

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