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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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30938. A second explosion took place in the same
place 7 — ^Yes : safety lamps were introduced after that.

30939. In your opinion, would it not be a great improve-
ment if the inspector had the power to enforce the use of
safety lamps where necessary 7 — Yes.

30940. Are there any imskilled men, or a number of un-
skilled men, employee in that district 7 — Yes, quite a
number of them in every colliery, especially in these
good times.

30941. Is there a rather notorious fact connected with
that explosion 7 — Yes : one of the three men who were
killed had only been one day underground before the
accident took place. He was employed first of all on the
surface : then he asked the manager to go underground :
he was a stranger to the manager, and he told the manager
that he was a fit person to go — that he was an experienced
person — but after going down the men did learn that he
knew nothing about underground work : and on the
following night he was killed.

30942. And it has been proved since that he was not
a miner 7 — ^Yes.

30943. You would have the return airways made so
that men could safely travel through them 7 — Yes, I
believe that should be so.

30944. Have you any reason to believe that accidents
could have been avoided if that had been done 7 — Yes.
I have one special case in my mind now of an accident
which took place on the 19th February last "at a certain
colliery in our district. The hitching plate of the tram
snapped on the point of landing, and the trams ran back
to the distance of 150 yards. Men were travelling up on
their way home and six of them were killed. If a separate
travelling road had been kept that accident would not
have occurred.

30945. As it happened, there was a return airway in
that case running pretty nearly parallel with the slant 7
— Yes, only it was too small for the men to travel in.

30946. Had it been in good repair it could easily have
been made a travelling rc»d 7 — Yes, very easily.

30947. Without any special extra expense 7 — Yes,
without much extra expense : there would be a little
extra expense in the beginning, but the cost of maintaining
it in good repair would have been very small.

30948. Had it been in existence at the time, those men
travelling through it would not have lost their lives, and
the ventilation of that colliery would have been consider-
ably improved 7 — ^Yes.

30949. I am putting the words into your mouth, but
I want you to give your opinion yourself as a practical
collier. That is your honest opinion 7 — Yes.

30950. You know that it was shown at the inquest
that had that return airway been properly made it would
have been an easy travellmg road, and the accident, al-
though it happened, would not have caused any loss of life 7
— It could not have happened if the men had had a proper
travelling road.

30951. Do you think there is any inconvenience to men
by having to walk out through a return airway 7 — ^No ;
I have walked out many a time. There is no inconveni-
ence, only you must have the road wide enough and high
enough to walk in.

30952. It is necessary to have the road made properly 7

30953. Is there anything else that you would like to em-
phasise 7 — ^With regard to firemen, I think their eyes should
be tested. I have known some firemen who nave been
appointed who have had defective eyesight and were
quite unable to see gas. It is very important that
the firemen should see well, and that the sense of hearing
shoxdd be well also.

30954. It is important that he should have no infirmity
of that kind 7— Yes.

30955. Do you think it is often the case that men like
that are appointed 7 — ^It is very often the case that their
eyes become unwelL When they are appointed as a rule
tneir e3^s are all right, but after being firemen for a number
of years their eyes get bad, and they are not removed, but
are allowed to keep on their employment

30956. Do you agree with what has been said, that they
should be practical men and should be proved to be so 7
— ^Yes, they should be proved to be practical men.

30957. With regard to safety lamps, how far ought the
use of safety lamps to be enforced, in your opinion 7 —
They should be enforced where ^ is found, in every colliery.
There are some collieries — ^I thmk we have a few — shallow
mines, where no gas has been found. I would not recom-
mend safety lamps into those mines, but in any mines whero
gas has been found I would recommend safety lamps.

30958. (Mr. Cunynghame.) 1 understood from the last
witness that as regards timbering he thought there ought
to be a fixed distance for timbering in each mine, or in
each seam of a mine 7 — ^Yes, I believe that is so.

3(^59. Is that your view also 7 — ^Yes.

30960. And that the timbers ought to be set at least
that distance apart, but that the miner ought to have a
right of setting them closer if he thought it expedient for
safety 7 — Yes. »

30961. You agree with that view, too ?— Yes. It is
the general complaint, if I may say so, in our district
that the men are not allowed to put timber in the roadways
except with the consent of the manaffement. Things ars
carried so far in our district in some colheries that they have
it as a condition in the price list— that timbers are not to
be stood in the roadways except with the consent of the

30962. (Chairman.) When you speak of roadways, you
do not mean only some roadways; you mean every road-
way leading up to the face 7— Yes, I mean every roadway.
We are allowed to put timber up in the face according to
our own judgment when we are not paid for them, but we
are not allowed to put them on the roadways only with
consent because we are paid for them.

30963. Where you are paid for them 7 — Where we are
paid for them — only with special consent.

30964. (iff. Wm. Abraham,) Only when ordered 7—
Yes, only when ordered.

30965. That is printed in the price lists 7— That is
printed in quite a number of our price lists.

30966. (Sir Lindsay Wood,) You said you would pro-
hibit all riding of the men on the coal tubs on all main
engine roads 7 — Yes.

30967. Do they run trains of men in your district 7
Yes, in some collieries, but not in every colliery.


J, D, Morgan

21 No^l907


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MINUTES OF evidence:

Mr, 90968. Do you have many accidents on those ?— Yes,

•/. i>. Morgan we have had serious accidents from time to time. We have

«- ..""", ^^ as many as six or seven killed at a time.

21 Nov. 1907 ^^^: * ., ^ • -cr .i. «

_ 30969. Are the seams very steep 7 — ^Yes, they are all

very steep ; the coal is cropping. We have not got many
pits in our district. The workimps are reached by slants
running in the coal, and the gracuent is as a rule about
12 in. to the yard — ^parhaps more.

30970. Then when the men are riding, do they take any
special precautions with those trains ? — ^Yes.

30971. They have to take extra precautions besides
those which are taken when coal only is going ?— Yes.

30972. And yet they still have accidents ?— We have
had accidents in the past.

30973. Would not the men prefer to walk in rather
than ride in ? — ^No, they prefer to ride after alL

30974. Is it compulsory for them to ride in T— No, it is
not compulsory for them to ride.

30975. Are they allowed to ride out ?— Yes.

30976. Is that as they come out, or in train-loads only T
— ^When they send the train down specially for them at
tlie end of the eliift, but the men walk up the slants.

30977. If sufficient precautions were taken to prevent
accidents there would oe no objection to the tacien riding

30978. (Mr, Wm. Abraham.) I am afraid the witness
has not understood. (To the Witness) : You mean riders
who are riding on the tram up and down the slants 7 —
Yes— men who are appointed in charge of the journey.

30979. Men who are appointed to go up and down on
full tubs 7— Yes.

30980. That is in full tubs. You do not object to men
riding in and out of collieries 7 — No, we agree with that.

30981. You have not had accidents in those cases 7 —
Yes, we have had accidents in those cases.

30982. You object to men riding on journeys of full
trams and on empty trams up and down the slants. There
is a man appointed by the management to ride up and
down on the slants 7 — ^Yes. A large percentage of them
are killed from time to time.

30983. (Sir Lindsay Wood,) Do you think the men who
are appointed as firemen in your district are generally
incompetent men 7 — No, I think generally they are com-
petent men, but they are not the b^t and most experienced
men as a rule that they can get in the colliery ; they could
have better men. I will not say that they are incompetent,
but they are not such good men as they could get. If
their hours were less and their district less and their je-
moneration greater, they would have better men to act
as firemen, but now the best men prefer working on the

30984. There are sometimes incompetent men appointed?
—Incompetent so far as their eyesight is concerned.

30985. Do you consider that it would be safe for people
to travel on the main return airways 7 — ^Yes, if they hiftd
the main return clear of the ropes and trams, it would be
all right.

30986. But how about gas 7 — There is no inflammable
gas in the return airways. The only drawback would b^
that the air is warmer in the return than in the

30987. Where does the gas go to 7 I understand you
have gas in your collieries 7 — Yes, there is gas found, but
it is not an explosive mixture in the return airway ; there
is not enough quantity of gas in the air to turn it into an
explosive mixture, but of courae the gas is there, only it is
diluted with the air.

30988. It has only to be mixed with the air to become
explosive 7 — ^Yes.

30989. It is only a question of degree 7— Yes, it is only
a question of degree.

30990. Are safetv lamps general in your district 7 —
Yes, in about two-thirds of the collieries.

30991. Are the other parts non-gassy mines 7 — ^Not the
whole of them ; some of them are,

30992. (Mr Bakliffe EUis,) You say you do not suggest
that lamps should be put in mines where there has been no
gas seen? — ^Yes, I say that.

30993 If gas is seen in however small a quantity — ^a
blower, for instance — would you then say that lamps
should be compulsorily introduced ? — Yes.

30994. However small a quantity of gas there was 7 —
However small a quantity of gs», they should be intro-

30995. Then when once safety lamps are put into the
mine would you ever allow them to come out again if gas
was not seen say for 12 months 7 — ^No, once put in I thmk
we should stick to them, because seeing gas once it may
be seen again.

30996. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) You say in your state-
ment that rubbish produced by falls and otherwise should
be stowed underground so far as possible. Of course the

• object of this Commission is to find a remedy for accidents.
What relation has this point to accidents ? — ^The rubbish
is sent out now when it ought to be sent into the faces in
order to fill up the gobs — ^in order to support the roof in
the first place, and in order to shut up all vacant places so
that there should be no room for accumulation of gas.
Now it is sent out in some of our collieries because it is
more convenient to send it out than to convey it to
the faces when it should be sent there to fill them up.

30997. There mvy be falls, so that of course it is very
difficult to carry the rubbish into the faces 7 — ^There
might be extra difficulty in dealing with it, but I think
after all that rubbish is sent out to the surface that could
be dealt with undei^pround.

30998. You are dealing now with cases where an attempt
is made by the management to keep up the roof always 7

30999. Of course you are aware that in a large number
of collieries the object is to break the roof in and to send
it back to the goaf 7— Yes.

31000. So that there is nothing gained there 7 — In our
district the management always attempt to do the packing
as tight as possible in order to support the roof ; we do
not want the roof to break down at all.

31001. You are suggesting that in your view where it
could be done this rubbish should be taken back and
packed into the waste 7 — Yes.

31002. I am only putting it to you that that is not the
view in collieries generally 7 — I am only speaking of our
Qwn district.

31003. You said in answer to Mr. Ellis just now that
safety lamps should be used in any pit where gas has been
found 7— Yes.

31004. Explosions have happened at many collieries
where gas has not been seen 7— Yes.

31005. Have you had any experience of explosions 7 —

31006. Where candles have been used ? — ^Yes.

31007. Has gas been found in those mines before the
explosion ? — Yes.

31008. Did you ever hear of a case where an explosion
has happened and the men have said that gas was in the
pit. Are they not usually up to that time the safest pits 7
Did you ever hear of one where gas was found before ? —
Yes, I have heard of one colliery in our district where an
explosion took place and where no gas was ever found or
reported in that coUieiy before.

31009. Does that not rather suggest that there should
be safety lamps in all pits ? — I will not go so far as to say
that. That was only an exception.

31010. At any rate, you think that if gas has been found,
safety lamps should be put in 7 — Yes.

31011. And that once in they should stop in ? — Yes.

31012. (Mr, SmiUie.) Have you had personal experience t
of working with candles in a naked light pit 7 — ^Yes. [

31013. You have also had personal experience of working |
with the close lamp 7— Yes.

31014. Do vou think a workman has more light with a '
candle than he has with a dose lamp 7 — Yes, a much '
better light.

31015. Do you think a workman can look after his safety,
so far as the nature of the roof and sides is concerned,
better with a naked light than with a close lamp 7 — Yes.

31016. It is more easy to examine and find defects in
the roof 7— Yes.

31017. If that is so, does not the safer light, because of
the nature of the close lamp itself, tend to a large number
of accidents from falls ? — Yes.

31018. And even haulage accidents where the light is
not so good 7 — Yes.

31019. In view of that, if that is so, do you set the
danger of an explosion against the greater safety of naked

Digitized by




HghtB ? — Yes : where gas is found the danger from ex-
pk)6ions after all is more than what is gainusd by using
naked lights.

31020. Could not the danger from gas be largely mini-
mised by improved ventilation in some cases T — Yes, it
could be minimised.

31021. Is there not a tendency, where safety lamps are
used, for the management to feel that there is less danger,
and thus sometimes is not less attention paid to ventilation
than ought to be paid to it 7 — ^No, I do not know of that.

31022. With regard to stowing the rubbish underground,
your real object is to prevent reservoirs for gas ? — Yes.

31023. The goaf at the present time is very often a
for gas, if there is gas in. the pit ? — ^Yee



gas, if there is gas in. tne pit '

31024. You think that so far as possible the goaf should
be solidly stowed up so that gas could not accumulate ? —

31025. Is it your opinion that many of the large ex-
plosions which have taken place may have arisen from
reservoirs of gas in the waste 7 — Yes, I believe that to be

31026. And that if the waste had been properly stowed
up there would have been less likelihood of a large accumu-
lation of gas and consequently a serious explosion 7 — ^Yes.

31027. That is the real reason why you advocate that
the waste should be thoroughly stowed up as far as pos-
sible 7— Yes. ,-^!

31028. (iff. BaUHiffe Mis.) Do vou suggest that stuff
should be taken down the pit to nil it up, or that they
should utilise the debris that is in the pit 7 — ^Utilise the
falls that are in the pit and put them in the goaf.

31029. Not that stuff should be taken down 7— No, I
do not go so far as that.

31030. (Mr, SmiUie,) I suppose you would not object
to stuff being taken down the pit should it be necessary
to fill up the goaf, but you do not advocate that at the
present moment 7 — ^No, I would not go so far as that :
it may be a good thing in certain cases to do it where
rubbish could be had and where it was needed under-

31031. (Mr, Wm, Abraham,) You know it is being
done in some cases 7 — I have heard that it has been


J. D, Morgan

21 No^l907

Mr. William Evan Moboan, called and examined.


31032. (Mr, Rakliffe EU%8,) I see that you say in your
statement you think there should be better protection to
examiners appointed by the workmen, and also that there
should be power to appoint check weighers as examiners.
What do you mean by that 7 — As Mr. Moigan has stated
already, Uiere is no protection for the examiners under the
present Act, although there is a provision in the Act to
appoint persons to inspect the mines monthly. But only a
few of the collieries avail themselves of the power to appoint
them, the reason being that if they report thev are open to
dismissal in some way or other for givins a bad report ; and
I was thinking that, inasmuch as a checkweigher is not
dependent upon colliery ownen, if the men desired to
appoint him to examine the place he would be independent,
and the company of course could not dismiss him.

31033. But he is absolutely dependent upon the work-
men. Is he an unbiassed man to make such an inspection 7
— ^The majority of the checkweighmen are, I think,

31034. Do you think that the Inspectors of mines are
biassed 7 — ^No, I do not think so, from my experience.

31035. You do not think that because they are drawn
from a particular class they have any bias at all 7 — ^No, I
do not think so.

31036. You think the checkweigher would be a suitable
person to go and make this examination 7 — I believe so,
because he is independent of the colliery owners: that
is the reason I suggested it.

31037. A checkweigher has certain work to do under the
Act of Parliament, and he is not entitled to interfere with
•the management of the mine, except as to settling the
deductions for dirt 7— Yes, I know that.

31038. You want to alter that 7— If we could alter the
Act and amend it in such a way to give the necessary
powers to the checkweighmen.

31039. What you want to do is to alter the Mines Act
and to make a oheokweighman independent, and that
then he should be eligible for one of these appointments 7 —

31040. You say further on in your statement that
unskilled workmen are the cause of many accidents. What
character of accidents do you consider are due to unskilled
workmen 7 — ^They come into the mines from every part
and they have no knowledge at all of mining.

31041. What sort of accidents do you think are due
to the employment of unskilled workmen 7 — ^They are
sent to do many things, and are a source of danger
to others because they are not skilled.

31042. But what sort of accidents do you attribute to
the employment of unskilled workmen 7

(Mr, Enoch Edtoarda,) Do you refer to their working in
the face ? — ^In the face and on the roads, and with regard
to safety lamps.

31043. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ell%8.) At the face what unskUled
workmen are employed 7 — Sometimes they are sent into
the face to unload rubbish.

31044. Have you any statistics to show that when those
unskilled men are sent into the face accidents result 7 — ^No,
I have not any statistics.

31045. Have you any evidence of any sort or kind to put
before the Commission in support of this view 7 — ^No, it is
my opinion.

31046. You have no evidence of any sort or kind in
support of that 7 — ^Mr. Morgan has given evidence about
filling the gobs. By night at some collieries these men are
sent into the face and they unload the rubbish in order to fill
the space.

31047. Have you any sort of evidence that you can put
before the Commisraon to show that accidents have resulted
from the employment of unskilled workmen 7~It is difficult
to ascertain facts.

31048. Can you answer my question : have you any
evidence 7 — ^No, not now. I should like to explain : an
unskilled workman, or a man coming direct to the colliery
with no previous knowledge, is sent to the rubbish holes,
and those places are most dangerous. We cannot always of
course ascertain the real cause of accidents, but we surmise
that a lot of explosions have happened owing to those men.

31049. It is a fact that you have no evidence of any sort
or kind to put before the Commission in support of this
view of yours. It is your opinion, as you say 7 — Yes, it is
my opinion.

31050. But I understand you to admit that you have
no evidence of any sort or kmd to put before the Commis-
won in support of it 7 — ^No, I have no statistics whatever.

31051. You go on to deal with inaccurate plans : you
say that there should be an independent person to make a
survey ; and that cases are known where collieries have
been worked beyond the boundaries which are not shown
in the plans. What has that to do with safety 7 — ^I think
it has a lot to do with safety, if colliery owners work beyond
their proper boundaries and it is not marked on the plan,
and especially if they are working down to the dip and
other people are coming to work the barrier afterwards^
they will strike into the water or old workings.

31052. But then, so far as water is concerned, I suppose
you know that thiere are provisions made by which you
must bore in advance. That is provided for and you are
not dependent upon the plan for that ?— No.

31053. (Mr, Wm. Abraham,) Do not say " no " before
you understand the question, because you have a case to

Srove that lives were lost notwithstanding boring being
one, and lives were lost because of the inaccuracy of the
plan 7 — ^Yes.

31064. (Mr, Bakliffe EUis,) What alteration do you
suggest should be made 7 — I only give it as a suggestion ; \
I think an independent party, an inspector, shoiud have |
the power to test whether these plans are made accurately.
That is the only thing I suggest We had a case '•
the other day where they had been working over the
boundary for nearly nine years. Four lives were lost at
a colliery called Caradog Vale through striking into water. I
No plans available.

40 A



Digitized by




Wm, Abraham,) And there was also a case
-Yes, Glenavon Colliery, Cymmer.

Mr. 31056. {Mr.

W,EMcTgan in Glenavon T-

21 NovTlW/ 31056. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUia.) You know there is a pro-

vision in the Act of Parliament with reference to plans now.

What alteration do you suggest should be made in that
provision ?

31057. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) You want some inde-
pendent man to make the plans ? — Yes, periodically.

31058. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUia.) Do you mean some person
who is paid by somebody other than the employer ? —
Yes, certainly.

31059. By whom should he be paid ? — By the Govern-
ment. In my opinion the inspector should have the
power to appoint the person.

31060. And that he should be paid by the Government 7
— Yes, paid by the Government.

31061. (Mr. Wm, Abraham.) You would not want that
in every colliery, but you come from a district where lives
have been lost and the jury have found in one case that
it was by reason of the want of plans 7 — Take the last
case I have referred to, where they have been working
for nine years across the boundary and where according
to the plans that place was solid coal ; there was nothing
to indicate that the coal had been worked.

31062. (Mr. Cuni/nghame.) With regard to this question
of plans, the law is that the owner or agent should keep
in the office an accurate plan of the mine. Is that so 7 —
Yes, that is the law.

31063. Now what you want is, I suppose, that there
should be some means of securing that the plan is an
accurate one 7 — Yes.

31064. If the law is at present that the owner should
keep an accurate plan, I suppose that the inspector would
have power, in a case in which he thought the plan was
inaccurate, to order him to make it accurate 7 — Yes,

31065 Is that not enough 7— No.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 104 of 177)