From day one, Mine Safety Appliances has been a leader in keeping workers safe. Its mission started with founders John Ryan and George Deike on June 14, 1914 when MSA set up a workplace in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. Their first order of business was to enlist Thomas Edison to scale down his alkaline battery to power a flameless cap lamp.

It was a horrific workplace tragedy that led to the creation of MSA. On the morning of March 26, 1912, the Jed Mine in West Virginia exploded. In a flash, methane gas ignited and more than 80 miners lost their lives. From this tragedy, mine engineer John T. Ryan Sr. had an epiphany: “If I could spend my life doing what I can to lessen the likelihood of the occurrence of such terrible disasters, I shall feel in the end that my life had been well spent.”

Ryan recruited colleague George H. Deike to help realize his vision for a new company. Recognizing the critical importance of dependable, safe mining equipment, they went straight to one of the country’s great thinkers: Thomas Edison. The brilliant inventor helped Ryan and Deike create the electric cap lamp which, during the next 25 years, reduced mine explosions by an astounding 75 percent. Of all his inventions, this was the one that did the most for humanity, Edison would later say in life.

During its first decade, key products that would shape MSA history were created and/or patented, including the Ever Ready First Aid Packets (1914), sterile compress bandages (1914), Gibbs breathing apparatus (1917), battle-ready gas mask (1917), and the CO detector (1919).

In the decades that have come and gone, MSA has continued to be a workplace safety products pioneer. Products have included small first-aid kits and portable methane detectors, and state-of-the-art thermal imaging cameras, ballistic helmets, and leading edge systems for gas and flame detection.


MSA’s mission is to see to it that men and women may work in safety and that they, their families, and their communities may live in health throughout the world.


MSA’s vision is to be the world’s leading provider of safety solutions that protect workers when life is on the line.  The company pursues this vision with a commitment to integrity, customer service, and product innovation that creates value for all MSA stakeholders. MSA is committed to protecting the health and safety of its customers.


MSA provides a comprehensive line of safety products used by workers in the military, fire service, law enforcement, construction, oil and gas, chemical, and many other industries. MSA also sells consumer and contractor safety products at select home center retail outlets under the Safety Works brand.

Several of its products, including the ALTAIR® line of portable gas detectors, V-Gard® Hard Hats, Cairns® Fire Helmets, and FireHawk® Air Masks, are recognized as the de facto standard in their category.


The company says its crown jewel is the John T. Ryan Memorial Laboratory near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which it calls “the world’s most sophisticated proving ground for safety products.” MSA is a recipient of the prestigious Outstanding Corporate Innovator award – the Product Development and Management Association’s highest honor. The company is extremely proud to be recognized along with previous winners including Apple, BMW, Sprint Nextel and Hewlett-Packard.