Summertime in the Belgrades
July 29 August 4
One Million Safe Hours and Still Counting . . .
Between May 2012 and November 2015, the employees of Hammond Lumber Company's Belgrade store worked more than one million consecutive hours without a job-related injury or illness that resulted in lost time. The National Safety Council (NSC) has recognized that accomplishment with its Million Work Hours Award.
And, according to Hammond Safety Director Bruce Pelletier, the streak is still going. "We've now gone beyond 1,189,500 hours at the Belgrade facility," says Pelletier, "and the strong commitment to keep it going starts with the Hammond family's emphasis on keeping all of us safe. They really care about the people who work here and want to make sure that when we go home we're not missing out on playing with kids because of an injury."
Clifton "Skip" Hammond started the company as a three-man sawmill in 1953. Skip's focus on safety was shared by his wife, Verna, and it extended to their son Donald, grandson Michael, and granddaughter Sarah Krizo as Hammond Lumber grew into one of Maine's largest independent building suppliers. There are now 13 Hammond Lumber locations and 450 employees. Donald, who started the first retail store next to the sawmill in 1967, is Hammond Lumber's president while Mike is vice-president and Sarah is employed with the company as well. Skip and Verna are retired but still involved.
"They're a family that understands what it's like for the families of the people who work for them," says Pelletier, who is responsible for overseeing safety for all Hammond locations. "They have an intense feeling for their employees that goes beyond business."
On the wall of Pelletier's office are 45 certificates and plaques given to the company over the years from not only the NSC, but also from the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NeLMA), Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC) and various organizations within the building trades. One of the certificates is a previous Million Work Hours Award for a Belgrade streak extending from February 2005 to April 2008.
None of the other Hammond stores have as many employees as does Belgrade, so it takes more time to build up combined accident-free hours. However, they may have safety streaks that run even longer when measured in years. "The Farmington and Skowhegan facilities," Pelletier points out, "are half to three-quarters of the way to a million hours, yet they have only 19 employees each. They haven't had a lost-time accident in more than fifteen years."
Pelletier was hired by Hammond Lumber in 2005 as the company's first full-time safety director, and it is his sole focus. In addition to staying on top of government regulations and performing frequent inspections of all areas of all Hammond locations, he conducts safety orientations and ongoing training for the entire Hammond staff.
More information about Hammond Lumber Company's safety programs, as well as its products and services, is available at