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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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questions. That is what you said.

{Witness,) By properly appointed representatives.

34180. I want to show you the difficulties 7 — ^I meant
this, that the workmen as a body, tl^ough their properly
appointed representatives, should have the right to call
any witnesses that they thought could gi^e evidence
having some direct bearing upon the case, but that is not
asking all sorts of questions by all sorts of men.

34181. I take your answer. I am not endeavouring
to put upon you what you do not wish to say. If you
allowed, in proceedings that might end criminally, any
person to tender any evidence he liked, the person who
might be committed for manslaughter might regard that
as rather hard 7 — ^I daresay he would.

.S4182. Would it not be sufficient for your purpose
that there should be a thoroughly effective inquirv under
Section 45, at which all that evidence could oe brought
forward and gone into, and where you could ask more
freely, where you had not a man likely to be tried for
manslaughter. Would it not be a better way of doing it 7
That is what I am coming to 7 — ^Yes.

34183. Gould not any defects that exist be remedied
by strengthening Section 45 and using it, rather than
tampering with the general law of coroners 7 That is
what I want to ask you 7— Yes, I quite agree with that.

34184. If you begin interfering with the coroners* law
with respect to mines, you would have to interfere in the
case of shipwrecks, where coroners have to sit, and the
case of factory accidents and ooaeh aocid«its. aad accidents



Mr. Evtm "
Thomas,

L» Dec, 1907



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Mr, Evan
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12 Dec , 1907



all over the place where anybody is employed. It would
be rather a big thing, would it not ? — ^Yes ; but this
section is in the Mines Act.

34186. Section 46 ?— Yes.

34186. Is it not better to rely on the greater use and
strengthening, if necessary, of Section 45, rather than
interfere with the general law affecting coroners ? — ^Yes ;
but there is no use made of Section 45.

34187. You want a good, clear and effective inquiry,
to make known all the causes of the accident and let every-
body have their say. That is what you want 7 — ^Yes.

34188. With regard to ambulance, do you think it
would be of use that in the mines there should be more
ambulances than exist already for men ? — ^I think so.

34189. In the case you gave of a man who caught cold,
if you had had thoroughly good blankets ready you Could
have wrapped him up, so that he might have remained
without any fear of catching consumption ? — ^Yes.

34190. I mean in the case'you mentioned of an accident ?
— ^That WM a full journey running back and he was injured,
and the main road was blocked through that ; he had to
be kept there some hours.

34191. Blankets^would have kept him from catching
cold 7 — ^Yes. It would be better if he could be taken out.

34192. Sometimes, you have said, timbering is not put
up as much as it might be 7 — Yes.

34193. And that is done even where the men would be
willing to put up timber without extra pay ? — I did not
say that.

34194. Are there not some employers who would rather
grudge- the putting up of the timber 7 — ^Yes.

34195. That is what I am driving at. I mean employers
who would grudge the expenditure on the timber even
though the men were willing to put it up for nothing 7 —
Yes.

34196. That will not be in the large and thoroughly
well-conducted mines 7 — They are all using timber £is
economically as they possibly can.

34197. In well-conducted mines the owners would not
grudge the necessary amount of timber, whatever it might
be 7 — They have that provision in the price list, and I
think that the large collieries in the Valley that I represent
are well conducted, I will say that ; but after all, they
have that provision in their price lists that no timber,
that is a certain kind of timber, cogs and road-poste, is
to be put up only when and where ordered by the manage-
ment.

34198. I>o you object to that rule 7— Yes.

34199. Who would you give the right to decide when they
ought to be put up 7 — ^The man himself.

34200. In some cases the men have only been there
a week or two working. They would be rather bad judges 7
— Yes, if only working a week in the colliery. If they had
only left the farm a week they would be bad judges.

34201. Ought not some man of a superior type to be the
ultimate judge, say a fireman, or somebody. I do not
know who is the right person 7 — ^A man that has a working
place himself, as a rule, is an experienced man, not a man
with a week's experience, certainly a man who is given a
place is looked upon by the manai^ment as an experienced
man, and certaii^y that man ought to be able to judge.

34202. Would that man have other men working under
him or with him 7 — ^Yes, a boy very likely.

34203. How many as a rule 7

(Mr, Wfo, Abraham,) One man or one boy 7
(Witness.) Yes.

34204. (Mr, Cunynghame.) One man and one boy 7 —
Yes : in some places he would have more.

34205. Although in the big and well-managed mines
it may not be so, in some of the worst managed mines
there would be a danger of unduly economising the timber 7
— ^Yes.

34206. Have you known of chains holding the cage being
annealed 7 Do you know anything about the annealing
of chains 7 — I cannot say anything from my own personal
knowledge.

34207. (Mr.BaidiffeEUis.) With regaid to examinations
under General Rule 38, yon speak of the cost such
examinations involve, and also say that there is a
difficulty in getting the best and most exxwrienced workmen
to undertake these examinations owing to the incon-



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venience it causes them* '^suse as a rule such men have
boys working with thefH* If that is one of the reasons
why this inspection under Rule 38 is not more frequent,
how do you propose to remedy Uiat 7 — By appointing
workmen inspectors. Then I think that Rule 38 to a
very large extent, if not entirely, could be done away
with.

34208. You wish to rely upon more Government in-
spection 7 — Yes.

34209. So that if the Government inspection were JL^
sufficient. Rule 38 would not be necessary 7 — ^No. »

34210. If Government inspection is not sufficient then
Rule 38 you consider should be amended 7 — ^Yes.

34211. The safety of the mine you think should depend
so far as the inspection goes, upon Government inspection 7
—Yes.

34212. Is not inspection under Rule 38 rather to assure
the men that the place is safe. It is for their satisfaction 7
— It gives them an opportunity of ascertaining for them-
selves tlie state of the mine.

34213. The object of this rule is that the men may satisfy
themselves that the place is safe 7 — ^Yes.

34214. If that is all, why should anybody else pay the
cost of it but the men themselves 7 — I do not know whether
I had better not answer that by asking you another
question : why should that obligation be placed on the men 7

34215. They can please themselves whether they do it or
not. My point is this, supposing they choose to do it,
who else should pay the expense but them 7 — I agree they
should pay the expense, but I say the expense is a barrier
to carrying out the rule.

34216. They would not pay the expense even to assure
themselves that the place was safe 7 — ^They are doing it,
but I say that it is a burden upon them.

34217. Why should it not be a burden upon them. If
they avail themselves of this opportunity why should
they not pay the expense of doing it. I want to know
what the complaint is 7 — ^The expense.

34218. They do not think they ought to pay the expense
of assuring themselves that the place is safe 7 — ^No, because
the expense is heavy. In the large collieries it requires
a large number of men to make examinations, and before
that rule is effective the examinations ought to be made
pretty frequently, and to carry them out frequently
involves a large amount of expense.

34219. They are not disposed to incur that expense ;
they would rather leave it to Government inspection than
go to the expense of assuring themselves that the place is
safe 7 — Yes.



II



1



34220.
-Yes.



Another reason you say is the usual indifference ?



34221. Do you find the men are indifferent as to this 7 —
The bulk of them.

34222. They are satisfied with the Government in-
spection and the managers 7 — ^I do not say they are
satisfied.

34223. What is the meaning of the usual indifference 7
— The indifference to the .

34224. I am quoting your own words 7 — Yes, I know.
The large number of workmen would not take the same
interest in the matter as a few.

34225. They are satisfied. The great bulk are satisfied
with the Government inspection 7 — I do not say that.
You may draw that inference. I do not say it.

31226. With your permission I will draw that inference.
Now with regard to the examination by the fireman, the
fireman's districte are too large and their hours too many.
How do you know this 7—1 have been doing it myself.

34227. How long ago 7— Many years ago now : in my
younger days.

34228. How many years since 7—20 years ago.

34229. Do you think there has been no improvement
in South Wales since then 7 — Yes, a lot of improvement

34230. Still you think there is ground for complaint ?
—Yes.

34231. Can you suggest any rule which would prescribe
the areas ot the fireman's duties— his district 7— It is very
difficult for me to put it on paper or tell it here ; that
depends a good deal on the conditions and circumstances
of the mine.



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ROYAL COMMISSION ON MINES.



393



34232. That really must be left to the management ? —
Yes. •• •

34233. Do you find generally in South Wales from
Information given to yon — I suppose you are speaking from
information given to you, not from your own personal
knowledge T — Yes.

34234. Do you find generally in South Wales that the
firemen have other things to do besides inspection ? —
Yes/

34235-7. Is tliat generally the case throughout South
Wales ?— Yes.

34238. In a paragraph headed "Standard and main-
tenance of discipline/* you say " Fines arranged between
man and manager should be disoouraged. Breaches of the
rules should be' dealt with by the magistrates. This would
be much more effective as a check against the tendency on
the .part of some to violate rules than fines at home. One
case before the Bench would be more salutary in its effect
than a dozen home fines." This is all as to maintenance.
What do you mean by " the standard of discipline " ? — It
is a general term with regard to the conduct of the men
at the mine.

34239. You do not seem to make any observations upon
it in your notes ? — No. I am simply linking together the
stanciard and inaintenanoe.

34240. Do you think the standard of discipline is not
suffioiently maintained in collieries in your district 7 — ^In
some oolUeries perhaps not.

34241. In what way is it not suffioiently maintained.
What class of labour in the mine is deficient in discipline T
— ^I am simply speaking of it in a general way.

34242. What is the use of that ? — ^You can have a general
idea of the discipline of the mine and the standard of that
discipline.

34243. Are there mines in your district where there is
some particular class of workman who is not disciplined? —
What I mean in this paragraph is this, that there is more
tendency perhaps in some colliery for the management to
agree w;th the workmen when anything is done, when any
rale is violated, there is perhaps more tendency existing
at some collieries to arrange matters at home, andnot to
take them before the Bench.

34244. The foundation of the whole thing is that some
men or man has been guilty of ne^igenoe ? — Yes.

34245. And then you object to that negligence being
condoned by a fine instead of bringing hun before the
magistrates ? — ^Yes.

34246. It costs a good deal of money to take men before
the magistrates 7 — I daresay it does.

34247. Do you think there is any danger, if you say that
breaches of dliwipline must be punished by taking the men
before the magistrates, that they will not be punished at
all 7 — ^There is very little punishment in a fine at home.

34248. In answer to my question do you think that
there is any danger if you say the only way in which you
must maintain disciplme is by takiag people before the
magistrates 7 You suggest there is a danger now, but is
there not a risk of thatdanger being greater by no punish-
ment being infiicted ? — ^No, I do not think so.

34249. You think even for a trivial offence that ihey
should go to the expense of taking a man before the magis-
trate 7 — As I stated before, I would not include trivial
offences in what I am speaking about here.

34250. What would be done with trivial offences 7
shall he be let off altogether and no notice taken, or if he
to be taken before the magistrates, or what is to be done
with him 7 — ^There is a vast difference between a trivial
offence and an offence that involves perhaps a risk to the
lives of the men in the pit.

34251. What is to be done with the trivial offences. I
know there is a great difference between the two 7 — I have
said that could be treated at home.

34252. How— fined 7— Yes.

34253. Of course you know under the Truck Act a man
has to consent to be fined 7 — ^Yes.

34254. You think fines for trivial offences could be
dealt with in that way 7— Yes.

{Mr. Rakliffe EUis,) My Lord, I do not propose to ask
the Witness any question with regard to the establishment
of Special Rules not because I am satisfied with the views
given, but I think it is no use going over the same thing
over and over again. I wish that statement to appear on
the notes.

(Chairman.) Very well.



34255. {Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) With reference to timbering
in the working places, the timbering is done by the collier
in your district. — ^Yee.

34256. Working at the face gives a man considerable
skill as a timberer, I suppose 7 — ^Yes.

34257. You would expect to find skilful timberers at
the working face 7 — ^Yes,

34258. In the haulage road the timbering is done by
expert timberers whose business is to do nothing but
timbering and looking after the roads 7 — ^Yes.

34259. You say that the great majority of accidents
are in the roads from timbering 7 — ^Not the majority.

34260. I thought you said the majority.

{Chairman.) 40 per cent, of the whole accidents except
explosions.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) 40 per cent, of the whole accidents
arise from deficient timbering in the haulage roads 7

{WUness.) No.

34261. What do they arise from in the haulage roads 7 —
I do not say deficient timbering.

34262. What is it 7 — ^Most of them by the trams and the
ropes and so on.

34263. The timbering has nothing to do with it 7 — ^No,
but there are some cases by falls.

34261. So far a^ the timbering is concerned in the
haulage roads ff tibat were done by men appointed for the
purpose you would have no complaint 7 — Only I think it
ought to be more uniform.

34265. It ought to be systematic 7 — ^Yes.

34266. 40 per cent is accidents from all causes on the
haulage roads, not merely deficient timbering 7 — ^Yes.

34267. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) There are two kinds of
roads : you mean the haulage roads and the roads leading
from the main roads to the faces 7 — ^Yes.

34268. On the main haulage road timber is made by
special men 7 — ^Yes.

34269. On the road leading to the faces it is done by
the workman himself 7 — ^Yes.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) The most skilful men in the pit.

{Mr. Wm, Abraham.) 1 think you misunderstood him.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) The most skilful man 7

34270. {Mr. Wm. Abraham,) The most skilful timberers
are required round the main haulage roads 7 — Yes.

34271. There are other classes of roads, the road leading
from the main haulage road into the face, and that the
man himself timb^» 7 — ^Yes.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) He is the expert timberer.

{Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is not an expert timberer.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) The Witness agrees with me. The
man gettii^g coal at the face becomes an expert timberer.
This is the man who has to do this timbering at the gate.

{Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Yes.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) That is done by an expert timberer.

{Mr. Wm. Abraham.) By the collier.

{Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) He is an expert timberer.

{Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is not the expert timberei/
you mention.

{Chairman.) The face and gates sre timbered by one
man, and the main haulage roads by another man.

34272. {Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) Now with regard to the
winding apparatus, you say it ought to be examined before
the men go to work. Is it your custom at present to
examine it during meal-times when the pit stops for a
short time during the shift 7 Is that opportunity taken to
examine the rope and the guides 7 — I think it is as a general
rule.

34273. If there were no meal-times allowed there wouki
not be that opportunity of examining these ropes and
guides 7 — ^No.

34274. You know the rule, that they have to be
examined by competent persons once in 24 hours 7 — Yes.

34276. Is that insufficient 7— Yes, I think so.

34276. Do you wcnrk double shifts in your county 7—
Not winding.

34277. You have no continuous shifts worked 7 — No.

51



Mr. Evan
Thomas,

12 Deo., 1907



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MINUTES OF EVIDBIfCIS:



Mr. Evan
Thomas.

12 Dec., 1907



34278. Yoa know there are distriots where there are
oontinuous shifts worked ? — So I understand.

34279. How would you carry out your suggestions in
those cases 7 — Stop the pit.

34280. You would give up having continuous shifts T —
No, you simply stop Sie pit for the purpose of examining.

34281. You suggest the pit should be stopped where
there are continuous shifts in order that the ropes might
be examined before the next shift begins, and the guides 7
—Yes.

34282. Have you any case in mind in which an accident
has happened because there has not been a sufficient
examination of the ropes and guides 7 — ^I have no case
where men were injured, but if you look upon the case
I gave as an accident

34283. You have no case where men are injured.
(Chairman.) He has known cases.

{Mr. Ratdiffe EUia.) Have you known cases.

( Witness.) I gave a case to the Chairman which happened
about three weeks ago, I believe. The men were kept in the
shaft for about 40 minutes or three-quarters of an hour.

34284. I did not understand you to say that was because
of some insufficient examination of the ropes or guides 7 —
Something the matter with the ropes.

34285. Do you know what was the matter 7 — ^No.

34286. You do not know whether that could have been
ascertained by insx>ection or not 7 — I received a letter
from the colliery, from the checkweigher, pointing this
out, and he was suggesting that an examination imme-
diately before winding the men might have possibly
discovered what was wrong.

34287. Is that the only ground you have for making
these suggestions 7 Is the ground for making all these
alterations the suggestion of the checkweigher that they
should be carried out 7 — ^No, for the sake of the thing
itself.

34288. You do not know in that case it was a defect
which could be discovered by an examination. In fact
you do not know what the defect was 7 — I have told you
I am not acquainted with the details, but I am acquainted
with the fact.

34289. With regard to coroners you say that the
coroners should, possess to some degree an acquaintance
with collieries and underground work, and the daily
dialect or terms used by underground workers, so as to
enable them to have a clear conception of the evidence
given at their court. You are aware that coroners have to
inquire into deaths from a great variety of causes 7 — ^Yes.

3^90. Do you think that they should be specially
qualified in this way for colliery accidents only or in every
other case 7 — So far as South Wales is concerned, colliery
accidents are by far the most numerous they have to
inqtiire into.

34291. You told Mr. Cunyngbame with a more liberal
use of Section 45 you would leave coroners' courts as they
are 7 — ^Yes.

34292. Do you complain of the fact that all the facts
do not come out before the coroners, or is it because the
decisions of the jury are not approved of by you 7— All
the principal facts come out, but some particular phases
of those facts are not properly cleared up.

34293. All the facts connected with the accident as a
rule come out 7 — I think, aa a rule, yes.

34294. What more do you want 7 — According to Section
45 there are other circumstances sometimes that ought
to be dealt with further, which are not dealt with by the
coroner's court.

34295. It is rather to Section 45 that you would look
than to any alteration of the coroners' courts 7;— Yes.

34296. With regard to the shot-firing, you suggest
that the weight of a shot that is fired should be under
some supervision? — Yes.

34297. In shot-firing in haulage roads would your view
be met if there should be no shot-firing in the roads as
distinguished from the face, unless under the direct
instructions of some superior official who should prescribe
the weight and the other conditions to be observed in
firing the shot 7 — ^Yes.

34298. He would decide the weight of the shot that was
to be fired and the conditions under which it should be
fired 7-Yee,



^



34299. Willi reference to ^ shot-firing in the ooal,
ou could hardly have a regulation of that sort 7— It would

very difficult.

34300. With that exception, can you suggest any amend-
ment with reference to shot-firing 7 — OSfy whttt I have
already suggested. I think the detonators and the
explosives ought to be kept in the possession of practical
shot-men.

34301. It was pointed out to you that is the law at the
present time. It wants carrying out, you think 7— The
explosives are handed to the workmen themselves.

34302. The explosives, but not the detonators 7—
The explosives aie.

34303. There is no harm if the shot-firer keeps possession
of the detonator 7— They are exploded witliout the
detonator sometimes.

34304. Not very often 7— We had a fatal accident in
Rhvmney last week. The detonator had been found
end taken out There was a missed shot and afterwards
a portion of the explosive exploded, and ike result wa«
fatal to the man who was working.

34305. How did it explode 7— That is the mystery.
It was not through the detonator.

34306. Can you suggest how it exploded ? Was there
a fatal accndent 7 — Yes.

34307. I suppose that will be inquired into 7— Yes.

34308. Has there been an inquest 7— ^Yes.

34309. What was the result 7-— The result was a verdict
that the man lost his life by accident, but there was not
sufficient evidence to prove how the explosive was
exploded.

34310. You say in shot-firing that these explosives \J
should be supplied free 7 — ^Yes. ^

34311. Why 7 — ^For the purpose of the employer having
entire control of them.

34312. There is no need to supply them free for that
purpose. He can have control of them and be paid for
them 7 — ^A man would not know exactly what he was
paying for then.

34313. In cases in your county where the men have the
explosives supplied to them they pay for them 7 — ^Yes.

34314. Why should they not pay for them 7— For the
purpose of the employer having fuU control.

34315. He has full control. He supplies the explosive
and he is paid for it 7 — Yes ; but if the employer kept
everything in his own hands the workmen would not
receive the explosives.

34316. Do you suggest something should be taken off,
or a less price should be paid for the woil: if he gets the
explosive for nothing 7

(Mr. F. L. Davis.) It is not likely.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) I have crossed the word " free" |^ T
out of my copy. "

34317. With regard to explosives altogether, I think
it is your opinion that it would be best for the workmen
to have nothing to do with either of the materials, the
dynamite or the detonator 7 — Yes.

34318. As the employer now provides the lamp and pays
for it in order to get control, you think a similar rule
adopted with regard to explosives would be the means of
creating further safety 7 - Yes, I think so.

34319. In speaking of roads, you spoke of two classes
of roads, the main haulage roads, for which there are
special men provided for the timbering, and the roads



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 133 of 177)