But protective equipment only works if people wear it – and that can be tough if it gets in the way of doing the job.
Tech service professionals Derek Baker and Michael Hallock have made it their mission to help make 3M’s welding safety gear more wearable. “When a welding helmet is on your head for 8, 10 or 12 hours a day, it’s got to be comfortable,” says Derek. He and Michael help train welders on how to properly use 3M safety equipment.
“When we’re out working with our customers we see the challenges and limitations they face in their day-to-day work,” says Michael. “These real-life experiences help inform the improvements we make as we’re working on our next line of products.”
Welding helmets have come a long way from the original version – a hand-held shield that only allows one hand free to work. New improvements keep coming to make helmets more comfortable and more useable. Based on seeing workers continuing to interrupt work to raise and lower helmets, product developers added auto-darkening filters that only darken when the bright light of an arc weld was detected. This allows them to see through the shield even when they are not welding.
Another reason welders were raising their helmets? Fogged up lenses. The improvement was to add ventilation. And when 3M specialists realized that workers were having trouble seeing things like forklifts in their peripheral vision, they added a wider lens.
The fact that everything is included in one is really helpful,” says Gordie Blair, a welder for the Greenbrier Companies. “I don’t have to switch – I don’t have to take my hardhat off, and I don’t have to take off my respirator. Everything is integrated into one, so I can just click the button. It saves a lot of time and a lot of hassle.”
See how 3M Tech Service specialists and product developers have evolved the welding helmet.