PITTSFIELD, Maine — At C.M. Almy & Son Inc., a Pittsfield manufacturer that creates church vestments and metalware for the church and clergy, there is opportunity for injury.
Very sharp instruments are used to cut cloth. Scissors are used for fine work. Chemicals are involved in metal plating, and nearly everyone is using power equipment.
But just like most manufacturing plants, the company has put a priority on safety. This week, the six-person Safety Team has pulled off the impossible: It won the Maine Department of Labor’s SHARP Award for the 10th time.
“No other company in Maine has received this award that many times,” Steven Greeley of the Labor Department said Thursday, as he presented a handsome plaque to the team.
He said the award recognizes the company’s injury rate, which is lower than the national average, as well as its continual efforts toward safety and health. Greeley said there are 27 SHARP locations in the state — woodworkers, sawmills, fabricators, nursing homes, boat builders — but no company has come close to Almy’s record.
“Almy is considered a safety leader,” Greeley said.
Barbara Hamilton, human resources manager, said the company’s Safety Team — Rick Duplisea, Jane Dennis, Herb Harnden, Terri Knight and Jim Wiggin — champions the effort.
The team conducts safety walk-throughs at the plant, meets biweekly to discuss issues and concerns, and conducts safety training and wellness workshops.
Hamilton said wellness is a key part to safety and is why the company has twice weekly in-house clinics.
“We have a registered nurse on Monday and a doctor on Wednesday,” she said. “The Safety Team actually built the clinic. We’ve decided, from a company standpoint, that even if the employee’s reason [for seeking medical care] is not work-related, we should provide medical care. The medical personnel are also able to go directly to a work station to see if improvements can be made.”
Hamilton said Almy also holds a physical therapy clinic once a month and it recently conducted a voluntary lead assessment.
“We often use SafetyWorks at the Maine Department of Labor,” Dennis said. “They are so helpful and their assistance is free.”
Hamilton said: “We have built a trust level with SafetyWorks in this program. They understand the many laws that govern health and safety in Maine, but also understand the many challenges Maine businesses have. They have a top-notch group of consultants who come in and really do a thorough job.”
Greeley said that because of the SHARP award, Almy would not have to undergo routine Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections.
Almy was founded in New York City in 1892 by a British master tailor and his son, and in 1929 Donald Fendler took over the operation. After World War II, Donald was joined by his sons, Thomas and Ryan Fendler, who moved the shop to Pittsfield, where it has established a national following.
Today the company is led by Michael and Stephen Fendler, Ryan Fendler’s sons, and employs almost 200 workers.