MSA takes leadership role in safety equipment and training innovation


    STAFF WRITER – The Ontario Construction Report Special Feature

    Founded in response to thousands of mine related deaths in the early 1900s, MSA has grown to be a global leader in the development, manufacture and supply of safety products for the mining, industrial, fire services, oil and gas, utility and contractor industries.

    Beginning as the Mine Safety Appliances Company, MSA started simply, with first aid kits, breathing equipment and instrumentation, and warning signs in five languages that recognized the diversity of immigrants working in mining at the time.

    Over time, the company expanded into other mining related products and into other industries, including the founding of the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA).

    Steve Grasha, manager, MSA North America Creativity Center, says the company drew from the rich heritage of industry and education in the Pittsburgh area where it was established, attracting some of the finest talent in engineering, design, materials study, and manufacturing to develop and produce protective equipment across virtually every industry.

    “To supplement in-house developments, particularly when regulation changes added complexity and cost to existing product lines, MSA made up the shortfall through acquisition. For example, the first to bolster the fall protection line in 1996 was Rose Manufacturing, near Denver Colorado. Surety Manufacturing and Testing of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada followed in 2001. The acquisition of Latchways Fall Protection in Devizes U.K. in 2015 completes a truly global foundation in fall protection and extends the product line to new sectors and services.”

    MSA’s continuing development and product expansion is driven in part by its sales force of more than 130 associates, and also through its ‘Voice of the Customer’ program. Over the past year, this program has led to almost 5,000 visits between customers and new product development teams to ensure products meet safety, ease of use and customer value needs. These products, developed at six global design centers by more than 250 MSA engineers, scientists and technicians are then manufactured in-house to ensure greater quality assurance.

    Grasha says MSA is one of the few providers of a complete line of protective equipment for the construction worker. “From the most popular hardhats and accessories – which are all third party tested as a system to meet government standards – to a broad line of fall protection products, to gas detectors and respiratory protection when confined spaces are part of the jobsite, MSA has products that are durable, easy to use, and cost effective.”

    Ensuring its products meet industry demands, he says MSA associates serve on or lead more than 25 safety standards committees that promote proper use and standardization of personal protective equipment.

    Among the company’s lineup is an innovative line of Latchways products. These personal fall limiters (PFL), Grasha says, are available in a range of lengths, including the Latchways Mini PFL which is “the most compact PFL on the market with spring radial energy absorption and eliminates the need for an external energy absorber.” There are also single and twin leg versions, all with 400lb capacity, round out the options.

    “Latchways Personal Rescue Device (PRD) is an integrated harness system for a lone worker, that is designed to be used in conjunction with a fall protection system or anchor point. In the event of a fall the Latchways PRD harness suspends the user and then allows a gentle lowering to the ground in a controlled descent. The device features a 65 ft. (20 m) spool of Aramid rope which is released at a controlled rate through an integral braking mechanism.”

    He says the Latchways Leading Edge SRL (self-retracting lifeline) offers advanced fall protection for leading edge applications including roofing, wooden beams and leading edge construction.

    Beyond its full range of products, MSA also provides training. Grasha says the combined offering of both safety products and safety training allows MSA to be more aware of upcoming standard changes and more familiar with the latest trends and best practices within the safety industry. “The additional knowledge gained from having staff members sitting on standards committees helping to guide the industry to safer work practices and improved safety products means knowledge can quickly be relayed to the general public in training programs, white papers and technical briefs.”

    MSA offers a variety of training programs, including many specific to fall protection hazards, inspection and training. “We are very proud of our confined space training programs, which incorporate all of our core products (respiratory, fall protection, portable gas and head protection) into a true to life, application based training class.”

    With more than 100 years of experience in the safety industry, Grasha says MSA continues to lead the charge for workplace safety by introducing innovative safety products and services which help to ensure workers a safe return home at the end of each day.

    “Our training instructors have a wide breadth of experience both in the field and in the classroom helping them customize the training material to the dangers and challenges our students face in their workplace. Our experience allows us to create dynamic training programs that workers can relate to and incorporate into their daily work practices.”

    MSA has been approved by the Ontario Ministry of Labour as a working at heights training provider and offers its programs through its training centre in Toronto, as well as other locations throughout Ontario and Canada. “We provide our clients added value by conducting no charge, on-site customer training seminars, PPE evaluations, and application training – more than 2,000 sessions annually, on average; producing product training videos and print materials, customized to specific procedures and product feature set; and by demonstrating savings through a total cost of ownership approach using online calculators.”

    Grasha says MSA also offers support that includes an online training resource with an administrative function that tracks and documents required training. “Our customer service promise is simple: To make the world safer, one person at a time.”

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