One of the most important contributing factors to the quality of our PPE safety solutions is you, the customer. Many products we create are driven by customer needs and worker-wearer insights.
Anyone who has to wear it knows that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not unlike many other product categories (like tools, for example): workers have strong opinions about how it should look, feel and perform. From the smallest hearing protection earplugs to full-body fall protection harnesses, if it doesn’t measure up to their own personal standards, more often than not, they’ll look for another product that does. However, there remains one critical difference that sets occupational health and safety solutions apart from other products: you rely on them to protect your workers and yourself every day, and the value of that cannot be overstated.
It’s for that reason that 3M’s product development processes are so rigorous. We employ a stage-gate approach that incorporates the performance of the product, quality requirements both for the product and its manufacturing, as well as continuous improvement plans as we scale up and launch new products.
Each of these stages allows us to develop testing and release plans to account for the quality and manufacturing metrics. Sometimes, when we are developing a disruptive technology without an equivalent to test against, we will even develop entirely new testing methods in our labs.
However, quality isn’t just found in the many processes—it is also found in the thousands of patents and core technologies spanning our materials, processing, capabilities and applications expertise. Through these innovations, we are able to create products that help employers solve unique safety challenges in ways that we believe sets us apart.
Finally, perhaps the most important contributing factor to the quality of our PPE safety solutions is you, the customer. That’s because so many of the products we create are driven by customer needs and worker-wearer insights. We involve you in the development process to ensure that we are aware of—and have the opportunity to explore—the details important to you.
This has led us to combine and innovate solutions that have advanced the ways companies are able to deal with health and safety challenges. For example, 3M has been a leader in advancing the concept of fit testing for hearing protection. Although regulators have not formally adopted any requirements in that area, fit testing of hearing protectors is broadly recognized as a best practice in the industry.
Beyond any specific example, the results of this approach speak for themselves. 3M has some of the most recognizable and respected products in many categories of PPE and a track record for introducing industry-shifting technologies. But we know there is always still work to be done and room for improvement as needs change and science advances, so we refuse to slow down.
Advancing the science of safety for your worksite means using quality, reliable PPE that will stand the test of time while remaining open to new offerings that will benefit you and your workers.