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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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leading from those into the faces, which are two different
roads. You are speaking in fact of the second-class of
roads where the timbering is done by the workmen them-
selves 7 — ^By the collier 7

34320. Yes.— Yes.

34321. Independent of the question of payment at aU
(of course we like to be paid for things), but independent
of that, you think if there was a law specifying a certain
distance for timber to be put up in those roads it would
be better than to leave it even to the discretion of the
manager 7 — Yes.

34322. In the face the law prescribes props are to be
put up at a certain distance 7 — Yes, and sprags.

34323. All necessaiy timber there 7— Yes.

34324. In consequence, there are men to see that it is
put 7— Yes.



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^325. In oonsequenoe of that in South Wales the
aooidents in these certain places have been reduced ? —
Yes.

34326. The contention you want to put before us is
this, if a specific distance made by law was enforced, the
timber would be put up ? — ^Yes.

34327. Whereas now a question of payment for timber
may interfere in the minds of the management as well as
the men, assuming you carry out what you suggest, it
would disappear altogether ? — ^Yes.

34328. That really is the reason why you are advocating
this systematic timbermg T — ^Yes.

34329. There was a time when we were against systematic
timbering in South Wales ? — ^Yes.

34330. Our experience of late years has convinced us
that systematic timbering would reduce a certain number
of accidents ? — ^No doubt. I have been against it myself ;
I did not think it was necessary.

34331. It is well known we were against it. With regard
to the return airway, will you give us your opinion with
regard to that. Do you think that it would cause any dis-
comfort to the workmen to travel out of the mine through
the return airways if they were kept clear ? — ^Not in t£e
slightest.

34332. You consider it would be much safer than it is
now ? — Much safer.

34333. Would you not gain a double purpose, that is,
increased safety and also increased ventilation by keeping
,the return airways of a sufficient size 7 — Yes.

34334. You have no hesitation about advocating that
as an improvement 7 — ^Not the slightest.

34335. It would not cause any inconvenience to the
workmen 7 — No.

3433G. You know a certain colliery where this is done 7
—Yes.

34337. Have you ever had any complaints made from
the men because they have to travel out through these ? —
No, I think they mucn prefer travelling that way than the
main haulage roads.

34338. It is known that we have a certain very large
company in South Wales that has adopted that plan for
20 years and more 7 — Yes ; I think the Ocean Company
has done it.

34339. It is a fact that thoy have never had an explosion?
— Yes, it is a fact.

34340. We have something to go by in forming this
opinion. Do you find by the reports at the monthly
meetings in your district that complaints are often made
that, with even the mqst competent firemen that we have,
it is impossible for them to do their duties properly because
of the size of the districts they have to travel through
and examine 7 — Yes, we hear that very often.

34341. Is it a complaint also that some accidents are
happening when the men are going in in the morning.
If the men travelling the roads who are supposed to examine
them had time to do it at their leisure, they must have seen
the cause of the accident 7 — Yes.

34342. Have you had any experience of this kind 7
Have you seen accidents in the morning, I mean in your
district 7 — I can only say what I have heard.

34343. Occurring in the district you are agent of :
that is what I mean 7 — Yes.

34344. You have these kind of things reported to yoTi
there 7 — Yes, and I have known of something like this :
the men go in and find a fall in their own roads and they
have to torn baok. They have received no intimation
from the fireman before going in.

34345. Do you put that down to the carelessness of the
fireman 7 — No.

34346. But because he has not time to do the work 7—
He has no time to go in and out over the roads of the
stalls. His principal object in the morning is to examine
the faces and see they are clear of gas.

34347. Because of the distance he has -to travel he has
not time to go in through one road and back tht ough
another 7 — ^No, he has not.

34348. That is my point. Have you in your district
any instances of the best of your men refusing to become
examiners of collieries imder Rule 38 7 — ^Yes.

34340. It is difficult to put your finger on the reason
why perhaps, but a little quarrel takes place and the next



12 Dec., 1907



day or so you find the man is there no more 7 — ^That Mr. Etnn
is so. Thomas.

34350. We do not bring this as a charge against the
owners of the collieries, but a deputy has his district to
attend to, and there is a complaint that the colliery man
has found fault with him, and the deputy we find causes
him to be discharged 7 — ^No doubt, b^oause he is coming
into daily contact with the men.

34351. That is what I want your lordship to under-
stand. We do not make any complaint against the owners.
We know we have as good a body of general managers and
owners as in any other part, but yt>u know this to be the
fact and you want to have it cleared off 7 — Yes ; I have
no hesitation in saying the general managers, I ti^ink,
are doing everything they can with regard to safety.

34352. They would invite this examination 7 — ^They
are doing it.

34353. But the man who reports defects is supposed to
be the man who takes offence 7— Yes.

34354. Do you think if a new class of inspectorate were
fomied with & sufficient number to make the minute
examination these men make, that the workmen would
not require to do that 7 — ^No.

34355. Do you know instances where the reports made
by the workmen are brought in evidence by tiie managers
to show the excellency of the condition of the mine iSter
an accident has taken place 7 — It is always the case.

. 34356. That may be one reason why our men have
become indifferent 7-~-No doubt, because lUmost after
every iinfortunate explosion the last report of the men
is always brought forth.

34357. With regard to coroner's inquests, you agree
that the main object of a coroner's inquest is to find out
the cause of the death of the men who have lost their
lives 7— Yes.

34358. And not specially to inquire into the cause of
the accident that caused that death 7— That is so.

34359. More than a desire to prosecute any man, it is
your desire to have a more perfect court to inquire into
the cause of the accident that caused the death 7 — I should
have thought it was made quite plain that we have no
desire to crhninaUy punish any manager or anybody else.
That isnot our deaire.

34360. Your desire is to 'find out some means to reduce
these accidents 7 — That is so.

34361. You think in your district you have a special
case where the second inquiry would have been of great
value 7 — ^I think so.

34362. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) You are in favour of a third \/
class of inspector, as I understand 7 — ^Yes. .

34363. Government inspectors 7 — ^Yes.

34364. What sort of position would you suggest he
should have 7 Is he to be on the same footing as the
present Government inspector or do you suggest a lower
grade 7 — ^My suggestion is that he should be under the
control of tibie chief inspector, whether you call it a lower
grade or not. He should be a praotioal examiner of ^e
ooUiery.

34365. Should he have the same qualifications as the
present Government inspector, or do you propose that
he should pass a lower standard of qualification 7 — ^I do
not think that he should be expected to have actually
the same qualifications as the chief inspector, but I think
that preference should be given to workmen who possess
a first-clafls certificate. These are a number about.

34366. He should have the qualification of possessing
a first-class certificate 7 — ^I should not put that down
as an actual qualification.

34367. Something similar to the first-class certificate 7
—Yes.

34368. Do you not think that possibly that might be
a disadvantage. If the third-class of inspector has not the
same qualifications as the present Government inspector,
he could not take the present position of chief inspector 7
— ^No, unless he was qualified. There would be nothing
to prevent him qualifying, would there, in time 7

34369. No. By qualifying, I suppose you mean he
would do that in his own time or after his work or some-
thiug of that kind ; not that he would cease his duties 7
—No.

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MINUTES OF EVIDEKCB ;



Mr, Evan
Thomas.

12 D9C., 1907



4 11



34370. I put it to you that anybody Vho has had
praotical experience in a mine would be eligible for^the
post of a third-olass inspector ? — ^Yes.

34371. Do you think it necessary that he should have
had chaa^e of a mine for some time or have been in the
position of a manager or under-manager 7 — ^No. I think
that the best qualification for an examiner of a mine

1 1 would be experience as a fireman.

34372. It has been put to us by other witnesses that
the only experience worth having at all is experience at
the face ? — Most firemen have had that — all of them.

34373. I do not know that is so. I should have thought
many men at the face have become firemen, but I do not
know that firemen always become colliers. I should have
thought it was the reverse, that a collier who has worked
at the face may become a fireman ? — ^That is what I am
saying.

34374. Not always the fireman goes back to work at
the face ?— No, I do not say that.

34375. That is what I understood you to say. I will
put it in this way : you would give tlus man who is to be
inspector l^e same powers as the present Qovemment
inspectors ? — Yes.

34376. Do you think that a man who has been a fireman
and who has never had charge of managing a pit would be
the man to instruct a manager when he is in the position
of being an inspector. Do you think he would have the
same weight in telling a manager what he should do as
the present Government inspector ? — ^Perhaps he would
not, so far as the manager is concerned, but the question
would be what would be the condition of the place.

34377. The present Government inspector makes his
inspection and says to the managers, " 1 am not satisfied
with the ventilation," or with something else, '* you must
alter this." Would a man who has otSy been a fireman
have the same weight as the present Government inspector
in telling a manager that things were not as they should
be and should be put right? — As I understand it, the
present inspectors can only recommend the manager.
They have no authority to compel him to do it.

34378. But the inspector is a man who has passed a
very high qualification ? — ^Yes.

34379. He has passed a good examination 7 — ^Yes.

34380. Whereas you are suggesting a man in the position
of a fireman should have the same authority as the present
Government inspector ?— Yes, or else what would be the
good of him ?

34381. I suggest he would not be as good, because his
qualifications are not so high. However, I will leave it
there. Mr. Abraham put to you that the best men in your
district will not make these examinations under Rule 38,
and you said that was so 7 — ^Yes, as a rule.

34382. What rate do you pay the men who examine
the mines ? — According to the resolutions of their com-
mittees.

34383. It may vary of course at different times. May
not this have something to do with it, that the best work-
men can earn more as colliers than you pay for examining
for the safety of the mine ? — ^That is quite possible.

34384. That may be a reason why the best men do not
like to take it up ? — ^Yes.

34385. I think you have been very fair in giving evidence
on this point ? — ^I have tried to be.

34386. You say that tiie complaints are rather general
that the men suffer when they make these reports. There
is nothing very definite that has come before us ? — ^No.

34387. Can you give me a case where you have known
a man who has suffered ? — No, I cannot put my finger
on an actual case, only when I attend the various com-
mittees I hear a lot of things at the committees, and you
hear the real things at Uie committees. That is the
general impression and, of course, bo one can say directly
and distinctly that that is the actual case.

34388. At your committees when there is anything
wrong you, as an agent, are made acquamted as a rule ?—
Yes.

34389. The probabihty is if there had been any man
who had suffered in your district, you would have heard
of it ?— Yes.

34390. You suggest that the fireman should only work
eight hours a day ? — ^Yes.

34391. If his shift were only eight hours, do you think



he could make the two thO^^Ua^ inspeotioas during the
shift, having had to make o^^ already before the men get
down ? — ^His district ought to be made to suit that.

34392. I take it a fireman's inspection of his district is
not made exactly to the minute, the same every day. It
is altogether affected by what he has to do during his
examination 7 — ^Yes.

34393. He may have to put up brattice-cloth or move
a bit of a fall, or do many things. You cannot name any
specified time within which the fireman will make his
inspection. Even during a shift it may not be simply a
matter of going straight round : he may have to help put
things right ? — ^There may be some special difficulty that
would detain him for some time.

32394. My point is generally that you consider the
hours of the firemen are too long 7 — Yes, I have no doubt
about that.

34395. (Chairman,) Do you now have two continuous
shifts in the Welsh coal mines 7 — ^No.

34396. Your shifts sometimes last 10 hours 7— Yes.
(Mr. F. L. Davis.) The firemen's shifts.

(Chairman.) The working hours do not last more than
eight hours.

(Mr. F. L. Davis.) More than eight, but not necessarily
more than 10.

(Chairman.) I understand it is desirable that the firemen
should make the third examination, and not very long
before the shift comes to an end. Therefore if he begins,
he must begin two hours before the shift begins, and if it
lasts 10 hours, it would be impossible, unless they were
reduced to eight hours, for the fiiiemen to work eight hours.
If the shifts were reduced from 10 hours to eight hours
the firemen might work a little more than eight hours
probably a little more, because it is desirable that the end
of the second examination should take place not long
before the end of the shift.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) He would have six hours to make
the two in.

(Mr. F. L. Davis.) You have not followed the Chairman's
point.

34397. (Chairman.) My point is that the last examina-
tion ought to take place not more than three hours, and
probably not more than two hours before the end of the
shift 7— Yes.

34398. Therefore if he begins two hours before the shift,
and the third examination takes place two hours before the
end of the shift he would have to work more than eight
hours. He could not beein his third examination until he
had been at work something like eight hours. He would
have to work nine or 9J hours frequently 7 — Another
fireman could be employed to come in at the end of the
eight hours.

34399. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) Would that be a practicable
thing 7— Why not 7

34400. Would it be practicable, to have another fireman
to examine when there is no shift following on afterwards.
You would not suggest that was reasonable 7 — There is
no work on the coal, but there is work about the roads,
and you have firemen by night as well as by daj'.

34401. Your firemen at night would come on a little
later on 7 — Yes.

34402. The shifts do not work. There is an interval
between the two. They do not work directly after one
another.

(Chairman.) Nearly one after the other 7

(Witness.) The firemen practically work 24 hours.

34403. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) I really wanted to know what

CI scheme was. You say the firemen examine the main
lage roade, but not from the main haulage roads to
the faces. Do you make that as a general statement, or
do vou mean that sometimes they do examine all the
roads. You do not suggest that they never examine the
roads 7 — ^No. You are referring to the morning examina-
tion 7

34404. Yes. — ^The morning examination \a practically
confined to the faces.

34405. And the roads between the face and the main
haulage roads they have not time to do 7 — No.

34406. You are not saying that they never examine the
roads 7 — ^No.

34407. Sometimes they are not able to go over all those
roads 7 — Yes, in the morning.



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34408. With regard to fines : you think only for light
ofTenoee, not for serious offences, fines should be enforced 7
—Yes.

34409. Do you not agree that all the serious cases at
the present time are prosecuted ? — I am afraid not.

34410. Not all ?— I think taking matches into the mine
would be a very serious offence. I was on top of a mine
two or three days ago, and saw an apology stuck up and
signed by a certain person saying that he agreed to pay
so much, and to jwiy for the cost of printing that apology
for having matches in the mine.

34411. You think that was a case that should have been
prosecuted ? — ^I think so.

34412. I entirely agree with you. We are of the same
way of thinking here. You may take it that the Com-
mission agree that a person committing an offence which is
at all serious should be prosecuted. You have said for
trivial offences fines may meet the case ? — Some
small cases between the man and the overman.

34413. You are in favour of systematic timbering ?—
Yes.

34414. There will be some system you would like to see
adopted, possibly not the same in every district, but the
management would be the people to put that system
into force and not the men 1 presume ? — I should think
systematic timbering would mean a certain distance would
be fixed by law. Anything under that distance I daresay
would be under the control of the management.

34415. It is a difficult thing to put by law certain fixed
distances which would apply fairly and be equal for all
parts of the country ? — Then it would not be systematic
timbering.

34416. (Mr. CunyngliameJ) Do you mean one distance
for every mine in the country ? — Yes.

34417. (Mr. F, L, Dams,) Do you think that could be
worked, because the conditions are different in different
districts ?~Certainly. It would be workable if you wished
to enforce it.

34418. At a cost ?— Yes.

34419. What distance would you suggest ? I suppose
you have thought it out ? — Perhaps there could be some
difference between rook top and cliff top. The distance
could be extended under rook top, and less under cliff
top. I believe those are the two general divisions of top.

34420. What distances do you think are obtained under
the different classes of top ? — I saw a notice on top of one
of the collieries the other day that under cliff top —I may
not be quite correct in my figures — the distance was not
to be more than 10 ft. rock top 15 ft. What is the use of
standing timber over 15 ft. You might as well stand a
post in the middle of a field.

34421. Although you have not worked many years
yourself, you understand the conditions of working in
your district, and you know that the conditions vary very
oonsidecably ? — Yes, they do.

34422. In different districts and different collieries in
the same district 7 — Yes ; I have known conditions under
which you have had to put double timbering, practically
one against the other.

34423. Would there not be danger in some of those
places if you had a fixed distance for the whole country,
where yon had an exceptionally bad place 7 The manager
n\ight say " We are only to do so-and-so '* 7 — ^But the
conditions there would compel them to do it ; they could
not help it.

34424. Do you think it would be fair to the places that
have excellent tops (parts of the country that are not
troubled as we are) to fix certain distances all through the
country — the same distance 7 — I was fully convinced that
was not workable a few years ago, but I have observed
during the last 10 years that accidents took place where the
men themselves thought the roof was perfectly safe, and
the fireman thought the roof was perfectly safe, yet a stone
comes down as if it comes from the blue sky and kills
the man on the spot. If timber had been put up there
the accident would not have occurred. That is the position.

34425. I only put it to you as a practical matter. You
know the timber used in a colliery is a very important
part of the cost of working 7 — Undoubtedly.

34426. Nobody, I presume, wants to save timber at the
risk of safety, but they do not want to use more timber
than is necessary. There would be many collieries, if a
fixed distance were made throughout the country as you



suggest, where the cost would go up undoubtedly, and
possibly with no object attained 7 — I do not think we can
say that in the face of the past.

34427. You said the man in his place was tne person to
decide whether he should put up certain timber or not,
and one particular colliery you mentioned where he may
not put up timber except when and where ordered by the
manager 7— Certain timber.

34428. Do you seriously suggest the man is the man
to put up that timber, I mean, to decide whether he should
put up the timber or not 7— Yes.

34429. And as much as ever he likes 7 — vviuhin certain
limits.

34430. Who is to decide on the limits. The man is to
decide whether he is to put it up or not and the manage-
ment cannot say anything 7 — ^Yes, I say that the man who
is working the place is responsible for the safety of the
pUce, and he ought to have the discretion to decide when
and where the timber is required.

34431. He can put up any timber he likes, ignoring the
management altogether 7 — ^It is not a question of ignoring
the management if that is the arrangement.

34432. Have you known any man increeising his earnings i
a little bit when he has a difficult place, by putting up/
extra timber and getting paid for it. We had better come I
to the real position 7 — ^I daresay that has taken place,
and the man tries to arrange for his work to be done 1
without one part of it interfering with the other, that is <
filling the coal, timbering the place, and ripping the top.

34433. If your suggestion were adopted, the men could
do that whenever they liked 7 — ^They would not do that ;
what pays the collier is the filling of coal, and he con-
centrates his efforts, as much as he possibly can, on the
filling of coal. He would not leave a heap of coal in the
face I daresay, to go back and stand timber for the fun
of it.

34434. You have told me you have known it done,
and that wiU do for me 7 — ^Very likely the man has stood
a pair of timber or a post when he had no trams to fill, or
something like that.

34435. With regard to travelling roads, you suggest
that there should be separate travelling roads 7 — ^Yes.

34436. I see that you suggest you would utilise the
return airways 7 — Yes.

34437. Not that you would make a separate travelling
road along the ordinary haulage road, but utilise that as
a separate road 7 — ^Yes.

34438. You know one colliery that does that in your
district 7 — ^Not in my district, but I happened to visit it.

34439. Llanhilleth 7— Yes.

34440. It is not very far from you 7— No.

34441. That is a comparatively new district 7 — Yes.

34442. That is a comparatively new colliery 7 — Yes.

34443. Do vou know whether they have always done
that 7—1 could not say that for certain.

34444. Does it occur to you it might be difficult for
older collieries, colheries not accustomed to use that as a
travelling road, to begin now and use it 7 — ^There would
be a difficulty, but it is a difficulty that can be got over.

34445. Would not the alteration of the size of the return
airway in many cases interfere with the whole ventilation
of the coUiery 7 — It would interfere with it in the right
way — by increasing it.

34446. Would it 7— Deckiedly.

34447. You have the machinery at the top of the pit



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