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30 July 2013

Why buying a 3M respirator means more than simply purchasing a product

When purchasing a respirator, product selection is critical to both employees’ health and safety and to a company’s legal obligations under health and safety regulations. It is essential, therefore, that specifiers and purchasers have total confidence in the product that is being bought. 


Confidence in the product and its suitability for the wearer and task is however only part of the equation. Diversified technology company 3M believes it is equally important to have confidence in the company that supplies it. 3M sales manager James Dewar explains: "There is a wealth of expertise behind every product we sell, and that expertise is available through a variety of mediums to our customers. We can provide whatever level of technical assistance and support is required from initial product selection, through to face fit testing and training in use and maintenance.”


While it is the employer’s legal responsibility to ensure that employees are protected, there are many ways that 3M can help to ensure that the choice of respirator is the most appropriate one, as James continues:  "We never just go into a company and recommend a product. Our aim is to help create a better and more compliant workplace and we work closely with our customers to understand their issues and identify their problems, compiling masses of information before suggesting the most appropriate safety solutions.”


3M’s expertise is based on a sound understanding of UK health and safety legislation and standards for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and its expert team of Safety Solutions specialists is always on hand to offer advice or access to product selection and user tools, training, support and guidance. Most importantly, advice and guidance can be offered face-to-face thanks to an unrivalled strength and depth of resource – what James Dewar describes as "feet on the street”. He says: "For our customers, our expertise and support is an extremely important aspect of their relationship with 3M. Customers want to have absolute confidence in us as a safety solutions partner, which is why our comprehensive product portfolio is supported by a wide range of added-value safety services.”


Such services include care and maintenance programmes that give customers free advice on maintaining their products and validation testing to ensure that the product selected fits each and every employee; fit testing for respirators is a case in point. Respirators with tight fitting facepieces will only offer the wearer effective protection if they fit correctly and fit testing is essential to ensure the type of respirator selected is suitable to each wearer, sealing well to their face. 3M’s safety services in this area include a complete fit-testing service, carried out by Fit2Fit accredited personnel on customers’ own premises and fit testing workshops to enable customers to develop their own competencies.


As well as investing in training, support and testing services, 3M is also dedicated to ensuring its products continually meet the changing demands of industry and the individual. 3M’s research and development teams are constantly investigating new materials and technology, with recent advances including technically-advanced filter media and industry specific products.


3M also maintains close collaborative relationships with industry bodies and trade associations, including supporting many of the British Safety Industry Federation’s programmes aimed at improving the selection and use of PPE.


As part of its ongoing commitment to provide health and safety professionals with continued and relevant learning, 3M also offers its ‘Safety Spotlights’ series of webinars, which is becoming recognised as an invaluable tool for sharing best practice, knowledge and experience across a wide range of topics. Supported by technical bulletins and website updates, it has become a highly successful online resource.


James Dewar concludes: "Our experience has been accumulated over many years across the whole range of industry sectors and our aim is to make that expertise readily available to our customers. We don’t operate from behind a desk - we make a point of being in front of our customers, offering guidance, dealing with any doubts or queries and solving any issues that may arise. When a customer needs support, we have the resources – and commitment – to help.”