Great Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on Mines.

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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I mittee.

34081. Do you think that the funds of the committee
ought to be helped out in any way. Do you think that
the owners ought to subscribe or that the Government
ought to pay ? — Some of the cost, pay half the expense.
My opinion is that it is not very satisfactory, because if
some of the men were paid by the companies and others
were by the workmen, there Would be some kind of dis-
tinction between them.

34082. A man is disposed to be perhaps rather biased
or less independent ? — Yes.

34083. If he accepts money from the owner he is not
quite so independent ?- -Yes. •

34084. There is a difficulty in getting the best and most
experienced workmen to undertake these examinations
owing to the inconvenience it causes them because, as a
rule, such men have boys working with them. That is
because the boys have nobody to work with in that case
and their work has to be distributed differently ? — ^Yes.

34085. You add as a reason why this inspiection is not
more frequent that a large section of the workmen are

(Mr, Ratdiffe Ellis,) "The usual indifference."

(Chairman,) ''The usucJ indifference that prevails."
You think the majority of the workmen are not very
keen on tiiis inspection ?

(WiineM.) No.

34086. You wish they were more keen T — ^Yes.

34087. You think it is a very useful thing 7—1 think

34088. With regard to the firemen's examination, you
say that the districts are too large and the hours too many.
Their working shift ought to be limited to eight hours
out of the 24. Their work ought to be confin^ to and
their attention concentrated upon examination of the
workings and roadways. Do they, as a rule, work more
than eight hours ? — ^Yes, they work, as a rule, about 10
or 12.

34069. Longer than the hewers do 7— Yes.

34090. Do you think in your district that a great deal
of time is taken up by duties otherwise than tiioee con-
nected with the safety of mineis 7 — ^No doubt there is a
great deal of that.

34091. You say their duties now extend to time-keeping,
superintending wage-men and the underground traffic,
and are made responsible for the output of coal from
their respective districts. Also they have, as a rule, to
take part in the ** measuring " of colliers' and repairers'
work. Those duties, no doubt, take up a considerable
portion of their time 7 — Yes.

34092. Then as to the standard and maintenance of
discipline, you say fines arranged between man and mana-
ger should be discouraged. Breaches of the rules should
be dealt with by the magistrates. Would you have any
exception, or would you have every breach of rules, whether
it concerns safety or not, dealt with by the magistrates 7

I — Personally, I may express the opinion that &ere may
be some minor offences that could oe dealt with at home,
but as a general principle I would say that offences that
would mean endangering the lives of those in the colliery
should be dealt with by the magistrates.

34003. How would it be if a list of fines was put up in
a oonspiouous place in the mine. Would that have a
deterrent effect 7 — That is done at present.

34094. You do not think that is sufficiently a deterrent
You rather trust to prosecution even though the fines
are put up and everybody knows who has b^n fined 7 —
Yes, there is a fine and also an apology and the man's
name placed to it It is placed up in a conspicuous place
at the top of the colliery. That is done at present

31096. Notwithstanding that you still think in most
oases or, perhaps in all cases of breaches of rules affecting
the safety of miners' lives, that they should be had up
before the magistrates 7 — ^I think so.

^yiOdd. With regard to the establishment of Special
Rules, you say that the workmen, through their repre-
sentatives, should have a voice in the framing of Special
KtUee — they are the people that have to live under them,
oany them out and suffer their penalties. What do you
mean by having a voice in the settlement of Special Rules 7
— Hav« a voice in the initiative stage of framing the ruks.

Mr. Evan

The present positon is that the owners and the manage-
ment frame the rules and then they are published and put

up in a conspicuous place. There is an opportunity given

to the wortanen to object or oppose any of them. I 12 Dec, 1907.

think the best thing would be for the workmen to have a

share in the actual initiative stage.

340^. Also, perhaps, you think that the Union, or
persons representing the miners, should be allowed to
promulgate rules themselves for discussion 7 — ^Yea.

34098. Your complaint is that the workmen are not
called in until the rules have got to such a stage that the,
mine-owners are practically committed to them 7 — ^Yes.

34099-101. As to accidents from falls of roof and sides,
do you think timbering ought to be more systematic on the
roads 7 What do you understand by systematic timber-
ing 7 — I believe the general idea is that timbering should
be erected whether it is actually wanted at the time or not

34102. You also add that the workmen ought to have
more liberty and a great deal more discretion regarding
the standing or erecting of timber than at present in their
possession. What is the state of things in your mines
as regards that 7 — There is a certain class of timber the
workmen are allowed to put up only when and where
ordered by the management

34103. That is to say, they do not get paid for it imless
they are ordered to put up this timber. It is not a breach
of rule for a workman to put up timber, but he cannot
claim payment unless he is told to put it up 7 — ^It would be
a breach of instructions.

34104. His instructions are not to put them up, whether
paid for them or not 7 — ^Yes.

34105. The management would not object to it if the
man did not claim to be paid for his time in putting up
timber. It is simply a question of money 7 — ^No, it is a
question of discipline. It is a question of giving
instructions. We have it in our price list We
have been forced to include that in the price list opposite
the item, say cog or road posts to be paid at such a price,
but it is stated when and where ordered by the manage-

34106. Your theory is that the management would at
all events have the right to prosecute a man for breach of
duty, for putting up what a man considered necessary
timber, even though he was content to put the timber up
and not get paid for it 7 — ^I did not catch your question.

34107. I rather understood from other witnesses in
South Wales that the management would not prosecute
a man or consider it a breach of duty to put up timber, but
thev would say " Such and such timber is not required,
and we will not pay you for it" That is the only way
the man would suffer 7 — ^They would not prosecute for
not putting up this timber, but they are prosecuting the
men for not putting up other timbers for which there is
no payment.

34108. Not putting up timbers : but I understood you
to say a man could be prosecuted for putting up timber
which you say ia unnecessary 7 — They are prohibited from
putting up a certain kind of timber, only when ordered.

34109. What objection would the management have to
the man putting up any timber he pleased if he did not ask
to be paid for it 7 — They say they are using timber un-
necessarily, and timber is a very large item in the cost of

34110. The men themselves ought to be the judges of
what timber is necessary, and ought to be entitled to ~
paid for^utting up any timber they in their discretion
consider necessary 7 — Yes.

34111. As to accidents on haulage, main roads and
headings, you say that accidents of this description are
very frequent Having looked up tl^e record of fatal
cases in the district you immediately represent, namely,
the Rhymney Valley, for the years 1903, 1904, 1905, and
1906, you found that of a total of 60, 24 took place on roads,
headings and haulages, namely, 40 per cent What do you
mean : out of a total of 60 fatal accidents from all causes 7

34112. Explosions and everything 7 — No, I did not
include explosions.

34113. What did you deal with in the total of 60 7—
60 fatal accidents from all causes during t^ose years,
except explosions.

34114. From every cause except explosions 7 — Yes.

34115. Haulage accidents and falls of roof and sides
included 7 — ^Yes.

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Mr. Etan 34116. The remedy for this, you say, is that 8e|>arate

ThofmM, travelling roads ou^t to be provided, lie suggestion
you voidd venture to make in this conneotion would be
12 Dco<, 1907) to make the return airway the travelling road. A dual
or double bniefit would result, decrease of accidents, and
an improved ventilation. Boys have to go out for Ught
during the working shift very often, and it is most dangerous
for them to travel over roads where ropes are in operation.
In all cases you could not make the return airway into a
travelling road in an old mine ? — ^Yes, tlie principal return
airway, i have se^i it in one ooUieiy, and I tiiought it
was an exoeUent thing.

34117. {Mr. W. Abraham.) What colliery is that?—
UaohiUeth, in Monmouthshire.

34118. What is the system there ?— The main return
airway is in a position fhat you can travel right through
from very neaor lihe pit into the workings.

34119. Can you take a horse and tram through it 7 —

34120. (Chairman.) Would that be the case in other
mines, that the main return airway would be capable of
being made into a travelling road ? — ^Yes.

(34121. Then you say that when accidents do happen
it is most important that the unfortunate victim should
be taken out with all speed, and without any delay. Some-
times injured persons are kept a long time on the main
roads where the incoming current is strong and cold, with
the result that the injured man becomes a victim to a
severe cold as well as an accident, and I have known one
ease where pneumonia set in and proved fatal Do you
know any oases of unnecessaiy delay in taking a nxan away
under those circumstances ? — We have had upon several
occasions to take a complaint to the management.

34122. What have ihey said ?— They say lihat they are
doing everything possible to clear the road, but it is very
difficult sometimee.

34123. In your opinion they might do more 7 — Ji they
; had these main return airways to travel along they couM
J take them that way instead of waiting for the haulage, and
' so on, to be cleared.

34124. You do not suggest that the management are
at fault, but that the system is at fault 7 — ^Yes.

34125. They do the best they can to get them out at
once 7 — ^Yes.

{ 34126. Then you say that headings ought to be wide
enough for hauliers to be able to walk by the side of their

: horses and not in front of them, nor behind the tram.

, Accidents of this nature are pretty frequent. Hauliers,

' while walking in front of the norse, shpping and falling,

• and before recovering themselves the horse is upon them
and the tram following crushing them to death. A foot-
path by the side of the rails would obviate this danger.

' Supposing you had a foot-path by the side of the rails
which was wide enough for a man to go on with safety
would it be necessary to have any other provision for

I locomotion for the men 7 — ^Not so far as the hauliers are

34127. If there was a gangway by the side of this haulage
could not the ordinary miner go up and down those haulage
roads in safety if he was going to and from his work, or
from one place in the mine to anothw 7 — ^If there is a
gangway, but that would involve some separation between
the gangway and the rails.

34128. Not only a gangway, but props and some separa-
tion, a partition or props, at shwt intervals 7 — ^Then the
hauliers oould not utilise that.

34129. With regard to the winding apparatus, you say
these should be minutely examined immediately before
the lowering and raising of the men. You do not think
they are sufficiently examined now 7 — ^They are not
examined immediately before the lowering or raising of
the men. We had a case of this kind at New Tredegar on
one of the Elliot pits a week or two ago. A bond of men
were coming up and something went wrong with the ropes.
There is a baJanoe rope attached to the cage, aiKi they
were kept in the pit for about 40 minutes.

34130. {Mr. W. Abraham.) In the shaft 7— In the shaft,
and they had to be lowered to the bottom of the pit after-
wards, and not taken up to the surface, and brought up
through the other pit.

34131. {Chairman.) What was that due to 7-— Some
derangement in connection with the ropes.

341%. Would an examination of the ropes have
prevented that hapjwning 7 — There would be a possibility
of that being discovered before raising the men.

34138. What would have been discovered 7 I do not
undeiBtand what was wrong. What caused the aooldebt f
— ^I could not toll yon minutoly and eaoiotly what was the
matter with the ropes, but there was something wvoag
with the ropes, and the men had to be kept in the |Mt for
40 minutes, or three-quarters of an hour.

34134. The present rule is that the meohanioaJ engineer
" sliall every day oarefuUy examine and report, or appoint
a competent person to oorefuUy examine and report, the
state of ihe external part of tiie guides aod eonduotora
in the shafts, and the state of the head-gear, ropes, chains,
and other similar appliances of the mine which are in aotual
use both above ground and below ground." You do not
think that is sufficient 7 — ^It does not specify any particular
time. It may be done the first thing in the morning, or
during the dmner-time, or some other time.

34135. As regards safety lamps, any appearance of gas
ought to be a sufficient reason for introducing safety lamps
into a mine. What do you mean by " any appearance
of gas *' — ]ust a xK)cket of gas 7 — ^Yes, any slight appearance.

34136. When they are introduced ought there to be any
provision for taking safety lamps out again, or would you
always have them used 7~^nce introduced I think tney
ought to stay there for ever.

34137. For ever 7 — As long as the colliery is trorked.

34138. With regard to coroners' inquesto, you say
coroners should possess to some degree an acquaintance
with collieries and underground work, and the daily dialect
or terms used by the underground workers, so as ^ enable
them to have a clear conception of the evidence siven at
their court. Do you say there are coroners in Souw Wales
who are not acquainted with mining and mining terms,
and who are consequently not able to do their duties
properly 7 — They have no practical ao^amtamee with the

34139. They have suffident aoquaihtanee toeonduct
these inquiries 7 — ^They 'have to ask the inspeotors now
and again to explain to them what^are 4he various terms,
and soon.

34140. The inspector is always there to explain. Do

Ci know any case in which you think justice has not
n done owing to the coroner being ignorant of the
practical working of mines 7 — ^No, I do not think I know
of any case where justice was not done, hvtt I know this,
that some difficulty was experienoed for the coroner in
clearly understanding the situation now and again.

34141. Although there has be^ a difficulty, it has not
resulted, you think, in any failure of justice at these
inquiries 7 — ^No, I could not go to that extent.

34142. You say that workmen should have ithe Tight
or power to call evidence and witnesses at these hiquiries •?
The men, I understand, have a right to have a repiesAita-
tive at these inquiries 7 — Yes, Ub^y have a right to have
a representative, but he is entirely at the merey of the

34143. Any workman is equally at tiie mefoy of 4he
coroner. It would not mend matteiB to say any worianon
may give evidence. You say any worinnen should have
the right or power to call evidence and witnesses. Now
there is a man deputed by the workmcin more or less to
conduct their case for them. Your complaint is that the
coroner does not pay attention to what he says 7 — No ;
I do not go to that extent, only I think that %he workmen
should have a right by law to call any evidenoe thatt they

34144. Any workman 7 — ^No, the workmen as a body.

34145. That is to say, somebody representing the
workmen 7 — ^Yes.

34146. The man "w^o represents the workmen should
have power to call any evidence he likes, or any evidetice
he considers material 7 — ^Yes.

34147. Naturally he must consider it material 7 — ^Yes.

34148. And any witnesses that he likes 7— Yes.

34149. Then as regards Rule 45, as to a second inquiry
you say that the Home Office should be somewhat more
ready than you have found it to be to grant a special
inquiry into the causes and circumstances of certain
serious accidents, and especially explosions, if the majority
of the WOTkmen employed at the colliery affooted e x| Mr e s Do d
a desire for such an investigation to taike plaoe. You put'
it in the power of the majority of tiie worki^n to abeoUitoly
compel the Home Office to have an inquiry 7—^1 think U
the majority of the workmen express that desire ihart
praotioal response should be forthooming from the Home




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34150. Do you or do you iiot mean that the workmon
should be supreme, or ^at the Seoietary o£ State should
be supveme in this qiattec 7 — ^My idea is this : whea the
woskmmk express that dmre, that the thing should take

341&1. Yott say if the majority of the workmen in any
partioular mine consider a seoond inquiry ought to be
iustituted, it should be in their power to compel it to be
instituted. Have you known oases where you think a
failure of justice has taken plaoe owing to the seoond
inyestigation being withheld 7 — ^You are patting it rather
extreme to me when you ask me about the faUure of justioe.
I do not wish to go to that extreme, but I know one case
where I am fully convinced a second inquiry should have
taken plaoe.

34152. Will you give us the name of the accident 7^
The McLaren explosion, or the Abertysswg explosion.

34163. With regard to shot-firing, this should be carried
out only under uie strictest regukition and supervision.
I imagine we should all agree to that I suppose the
rulee are not sufficiently stringent, you think 7 — I believe
there is one thing lacking in the rules. I think a limit
ou^t to be put to the charge.

34154. You say shot-firing should only take plaoe
between slulta 7-<Yes.

34155. Woukl 3rou apply that to shot-firing in the face,
or only to ripping, shot-firing in the roads 7 — ^To all shot-

34156. Would that be practicable m South Wales, to
limit shot-firing to between the shifts 7 — Where it is
neoessory to bh^t in the coal it would be rather difficult.

34157. Therefore you are not quite sure, as regards
blasting in the coal, whether you would not suggest that
it shoiSd be invariably carried out between shifts 7 —
Where blasting in the ooal is required I am afraid that it
must be done during the shift. Where the heavy charges
are put in the roadways and the rippings, that ought to be
between shifts.

3415S. You say the caps and explosives should be
supplied free, by the employers, and kept and used by
competent shot-men and not distributed indiscriminately
among the workmen. Is that the case now, that caps and
expk>8ive6 are distributed indiscriminately amongst the
workmen 7 Is that in accordance with your rules 7
IWould it not be a breach of a rule for that to be done 7 —
]a certain quantity. The explosive is limited to a certain

34169. Have you any suggestion to make as to the
aheratiOB ol either General Rule 12 or any of the Special
Rttks 7 — The suggestion I am aiaking is that the explosive
and the oape should be kept by shot-men and not handed
to the men. Now the men go to the magazine in the
monung and get their allowance of explosives. Then
the shot-man goes round and hands them the cap.

34160. Who drills the hole 7— The workman.

34161. The shot-man stems it 7^Yes.

34162^ {Mr, BatcHffe EOis.) The detonator or the cap
and the explosive are not given out to the same man 7
—'The shot-man goes round the colliery and hands the
cap to the workman.

34163. The explosive is given to the workmen, and the
detonator or the cap are given to tlxe shot-firer 7 — Yes,
but the shot-fiier goes round the colliery and enquires
of everyone whether he requires a shot or not, and then he
pves him the cap, and the cap is left in the working

34164. {Mr, Wm, Abraham,) In his charge 7— Yes.
34166. {Ohfiirman,) The detonator 7— -Yes.

34166. SorelT only wk authorised person or shot-fixer
can have any detonator in his possession at all under the
ExpkaiTes Qi4er 7 Sub-section B of Clause 4 of the
Bxploeivee Older savs: ** Shot-firers and other authorised
persons shall keep aU detonators issued to them until about
to be used in a securely locked case or box, separate from
any other explosive.*' You say that is not carried into
eSeet 7 — 1% is carried into effect in this way : the shot-man
goe» to the working plaoe and asks the man whether
he baa a hole ready or not. Perhaps the hole would not
be quite ready then, llien he leaves the detonator there in
the possession of the workman.

34167. He had no business to do that 7 — ^That is what
is done.

34168. That is coutrary to the law. If the law wss
carried into effect and the shot-firer and other authorised
persons always kept all detonators until about to be used

in a seourely looked case or box, you would say that was
all that was necessary 7 — ^I suppose the diot-man would
be under the impression that he is fulfilling the law by
giving the detonator to the workman say 10 miuut^ or
a quarter of an hour before it was actually necessary, and
then he would go on to another place.

34169. {Mr, Wm. Abraham,) In that case who rams
the hole 7 — ^The shot-man rams the hole, but I think, as
a rule, the man himself puts the detonator in the last

34170. That is what you object to 7— Yes.

34171. You think the shot-man ought to have the
handling of the detonator, and the man have nothing to
do with it at all 7— Yes.

34172. {Mr, Ounynjhame,) You are in favour of the
greater use of Section 45 of the Act, which gives the
Secretary of State power to order inquiries 7 — Yea.

34173. Supposing that was done, and I should be
inclined to agree with you to a certain extent, it would
be less reason, I suppose, to have greater powers at the
coroner's court. If you had a good inquiry under
Section 45 in doubtful and difficult oases it would be less
necessary to go into detail at the coroner's court 7— Not
of necessity. I believe the coroner's court certainly
should execute its duty to the furthest possibility.

34174. That is plain, but we are discussing what their
duty ought to be 7 — ^Yes.

34176. I will show you what I am tending to. A
coroner's court is in some sense a court of criminal juris-
diction, and it is part of the criminal machinery of the
country 7 — I am not an expert in law.

34176. That is a very fair answer. I wiU give you a
notion of what I mean. The duties of coroner's' courts
is sometimes to attach blame to partioular men agad send
them for trial for manslaughter? — ^Yes.

34177. If you were in the position of being Hkelv to be
committed for manslaughter, you would hardlv iik<^ all
sorts of people to intervene and ask all sorts of questions
as of right. You would think it rather hard 7—1 daresay
I would, if I was in that position.

34178. There was a case which occurred the other day,
in which it seems doubtful whether there was not negligence
on the part of two miners with regard to a cage accidentk
It would be rather hard if all sorts of people besides the
coroner and the regular officials were to claim the right
to intarvene and a^ all sorts of questions. It might be
very hard on the men, because tliey are going to be possibly
tried for nuimilaughter. I want to put the other side
before you. Do you see what I mec.n 7 — All sorts of
questions by all sorts of men are not allowed by the

34179. Apparently you would allow the miners to
intervene and ask as of right any questions they liked.
You said so just now.

{Mr. F, L, Davis.) Call any witness.

(Mr, Cunynghame,) Yes, call any witness and ask any

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 132 of 177)