My goal is only achieved if my customers stay healthy thanks to our knowledge and products

In the 12 years that I’ve been working to create a safe working environment, I have learned a lot about respiratory protection, but I realise that there’s still a lot to learn. I find it really interesting to begin to uncover a theory or a claim and to unravel it as far as possible. Commercially speaking, that’s not the first thing you think of when visiting customers, so neither do I walk into my customers’ premises with an order book under my arm. My goal is only achieved if my customers stay healthy thanks to our knowledge and products.

What you can learn from practice is especially valuable

As well as being Product Manager for our respiratory protection product range, I am also Secondary Safety Officer and was one of the first people in the Netherlands to complete PPE Advisor training (AVAG at the time) at Copla. Now, I am also an author/editor, a member of the board of an association of safety professionals in the Port of Rotterdam and a member of the very capable Respiratory Protection working party of the Industrial Cleaning Foundation (Stichting Industriële Reiniging, SIR). I obtain my knowledge from my fellow working party members, but I also obtain a great deal of it from the International Society for Respiratory Protection (ISRP). That is a club of very capable people (academics, professors, researchers etc.) who have an intrinsic interest in respiratory protection. I also give presentations and lectures, such as for colleagues or simply for people who use respiratory protection in their everyday lives. Not just to convey my knowledge, but also to acquire new knowledge. What you can learn from practice is especially valuable. I include practical experiences too, such as in presentations and product training sessions, but I also share with our manufacturers to devise even better solutions. My aim is to learn something new every day.

Laws and regulations, politics and customs, cultures, corporate cultures and assumptions

After 12 years, I am unable to do anything other than conclude that achieving a safe working environment with respiratory protection is challenging. You have laws and regulations, politics and customs, cultures, corporate cultures and assumptions to contend with. In addition to this, various people act as your discussion partner, from safety experts to occupational health and safety specialists and from buyers to the board. And, of course, there’s the most important people, the users. All of these individuals, each from their own specialist fields and with their own objectives, have their own perspective on the matter, making the road to a safe working environment one that has many bends and exits. Yet we always reach the final destination in the end: a safe workplace.

Ensuring that the best respiratory protection is at users’ disposal

We have enjoyed a close collaboration with Swedish manufacturer Sundström Safety AB for 10 years now, and I am very pleased with this. Family business Sundström has a clear mission, which is to ensure that the best respiratory protection is at users’ disposal. This is why I also tell our customers that Sundström doesn’t manufacture disposable masks, despite the large profits that can be made from these types of products. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to manufacture a simple product that barely offers the user any benefit. I find that disposable masks generally don’t offer adequate protection. You can try endless times to improve a wooden wheel, but at the end of the day, it will still be a wooden wheel.

If the exposure level and the exposure period are relatively low

You will still find disposable masks within our range. There are certain situations in which a disposable mask does offer adequate protection, such as if you need occasional respiratory protection and the exposure level is low and the exposure period short. For those individual cases, we provide disposable masks from the Segre brand because we know that these are reliable.

Our opinion doesn’t count

Back to the wooden wheel. We, my colleagues and I, like to do things differently. We are not going to tell you that our products are much better and much more comfortable. And neither are we going to say that they are many times better than the standard requires (after all, the standard is a threshold value!). As a user, that won’t be of much help to you. What we do is to help you understand why you need to make certain choices. How your body works and how respiratory protection should work if it isn’t to get in the way of your body. Only once we have done that can you say that the Sundström products are better, more comfortable and more reliable. At the end of the day, it’s not what we think about it, but what you think about it. After all, it’s your health that’s at stake!

Keep breathing, stay healthy…

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