MSA Africa is celebrating its 75th anniversary as the African leader in the development, manufacture and supply of sophisticated products that protect people’s health and safety. In honour of this achievement, the company is hosting a media day at its new head office to reflect on its past achievements, while highlighting new innovations.
From humble beginnings in February 1940 as a small company specialising in the sale of electric cap lamps to South African mining operations, MSA Africa is today recognised as the continent’s leading health and safety equipment supplier in terms product quality and sales volumes. MSA Africa currently boasts a workforce of more than 100 administrative and manufacturing employees at its Johannesburg-based headquarters, with a geographical footprint that spans 45 countries in Africa.
MSA Africa is the second-oldest MSA division. The USA head office celebrated its 100th anniversary last year in recognition of the company founder John T Ryan working closely with world-renowned inventor Thomas Edison to create the electric cap lamp as a replacement for the dangerous open flame lamp. Over the next 25 years, mine explosions would be dramatically reduced by 75 per cent.
MSA Africa MD Colin Oliver notes that the company has proactively changed with the times, while remaining committed to the original MSA safety philosophy that is over a century old. “Safety can always be improved, no matter how many advancements are made. MSA Africa is well aware of this, and we continue our commitment to product innovation through dedicated research and development, as well as regular interactive feedback sessions with our client base.”
Oliver believes that this approach to business has led to MSA Africa being recognised as a high-quality reputable brand. “We stand by our product and service, no matter what. Our products are life saving devices and as such we simply cannot compromise on quality, brand or integrity. This has led to the company enjoying an unrivalled degree of customer loyalty,” he continues.
Despite the measurable success over the years, Oliver admits that the company has faced numerous challenges. He points out that the international economic downturn and continued pressure on global commodity prices have been particularly difficult to overcome.
Oliver says: “Businesses in the mining and oil and gas sectors have been significantly impacted by the commodity pricing cycle. Despite this, MSA Africa continues to achieve a year-on-year improvement in business levels through strong product brand, marketing and the ongoing dedication of our staff.”
According to Oliver, the commodity pricing cycle is still at a low point. “Mining operations will continue to drive cost optimisation and control. However, maintenance of existing infrastructure needs to continue to ensure that operations are able to take up the upswing of the commodity cycle when it comes. As a result, MSA Africa will continue to experience good business in mining and will be ready to benefit from increased mining activity when the commodity pricing cycle improves.”
Oliver adds that lower-quality, counterfeit imports are another concern. “A large percentage of these products have questionable quality certifications, and lure operations with limited budgets in with marginal pricing. The long-term consequences can be catastrophic, as these companies are only interested in quick sales and not long-term health and safety of workers.”
MSA Africa provides its end-users with certification on all products through its extensive distribution network across Africa. “Our end-users are guaranteed to receive the highest-quality, certified and legitimate MSA products, which are supported by world class service and support,” adds Oliver.
As part of its 75th anniversary celebrations, MSA Africa is showcasing the following innovations;
Gravity suspension harness
A major breakthrough in fall protection is the new Gravity suspension harness, being launched locally today by MSA Africa. The Gravity suspension harness is available in a ‘Premium’ and a ‘Light’ version, and is suitable for use in a variety of applications that require fall protection, including; rope access, first responder rescue, telecommunications, oil and gas, wind energy and general industry.
The Gravity harness is suitable for controlled descent, positioning, ladder climbing, rescue, and fall arrest. The lightweight and comfortable Gravity range provides users with high-strength and superior-quality performance. For added safety, the Gravity harness range boasts a unique integral load indicator in the form of a webbing that opens in order to indicate to the user that the harness was previously involved in a fall and should not be reused, but rather discarded.
PremAire Escape EEBD
Visitors at the MSA Africa media day will be given a sneak-peak of the new PremAire range of emergency escape breathing devices (EEBD), due to be launched later in the year. The PremAire Escape device can be fitted in under five seconds, and provides an air supply of 10 to 15 minutes, thereby allowing the wearer to escape without difficulty from any hazardous environment.
The patented PremAire Escape is designed to withstand high levels of industrial gas leaks, in harsh chemical environments such as hydrogen sulphide (H2S). The major components of this device have undergone critically high H2S concentration testing by a third party. Despite concentrations exceeding 25 percent, the permeation detected remained minimal.
PremAire Combination Airline/Escape EEBD
Another innovative EEBD being launched locally in the near future by MSA Africa is the PremAire Combination Airline/Escape. The core component of the PremAire Combination is the unique combination valve design. It combines the first stage pressure reducer, cylinder valve and cylinder gauge within one assembly – creating a small size and profile less likely to snag in confined spaces. A hard cover for this assembly ensures additional protection and easy handling of the air cylinder.
Luminator cap lamp
Launched locally in mid-2014, the Luminator cap lamp sets itself apart from all other cap lamps in the world, as it features a number of groundbreaking innovations designed to dramatically improve visibility and personal safety for South African underground miners. A major feature is that it enhances the miner’s ability to more effectively detect cracks on hanging walls, which usually represent signs of ground falls and roof collapse. By swiftly identifying these cracks, miners save valuable seconds and are able to evacuate in the event of a rock fall.
A positive future outlook for MSA Africa
As safety regulations become more stringent in Africa, Oliver anticipates continued success for MSA Africa. “Safety remains paramount in all industries, and I expect our business to further benefit from the improving business cycle as commodity prices increase and oil prices rise. I am confident of maintaining a strong hold on established regions such as South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, while penetrating burgeoning new markets such as Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania,” he concludes