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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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is entrusted.

35093. Do you suggest that there should be an examina-
tion, oral or written, to qualify a man to act as a fireman?
— I do not suggest that there snould be an examination.
I do not know that a certificate in accordance with the
second-class certificate would be necessary in these cases.
I can give the name of the colliery privately to the Secre-
tary if you desire it. This man held a first-class certificate.

35094. He would be eligible so far as examination was
concerned 7 — He was incompetent, and they dicanissed
him. They did not dismiss him on this occasion, but he
permitted them to go into the same place afterwards,
and the day fireman found him out

35095. Then with regard to the standard of discipline
by fining or prosecution you say, ** The method of prose-
cution under rule remains unaltered." I do not know
what you mean by that. — I think in all cases of breaches
of rules by the men they should be prosecuted.

35096. There should be no distinction between trivial
offences and more serious offences, or offences that merely
affect the efficient working of the mine and offences that
imperil the lives of the workmen. You think in all cases
there should be prosecution 7 — ^That is my opinion, be-
cause I think the desired effect would only be obtained by
prosecution. If it was left between the management and
the workmen's officials to agree upon a fine, I do not think
an agreement would often be come to. I think th&
salutuy effect on the body of workmen would only be
obtained if men were prosecuted instead of being fined.

35097. With regard to establishing Special rules, you
say the workmen &ould be represented in the establishing
of rules, as they are expected to observe them. We have
had a great deal of evidence upon that point. I do not
know whether you care to elaborate, that 7 — ^No. I agree
with what Mr. Watts Morgan said when his evidence was
taken. If special rules have to be established, I think
men should be represented in the establishment of those

35098. With regard to falls of roof and sides, you say»
" There should be systematic timbering on all roadways.

13 Dec., 1907

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13 Dec., 1907


the workmen giren the right as to the use of such." You
have heard the evidence that has been giren by Mr. Harris.
Do you agree with that ?— Yes, to a certain extent.

35099. You hare nothing to add to what he said ? —
I think it should be so. 1 have gone into this matter very
carefully throughout my district since 1906, and I find
out of a total of 95 accidents for that period, there were
31 from falls of roof and sides, or about 33 per cent

35100. As to haulage. You say, " The same be suspended
while men are travelling, or that aQ return-ways be made
BO that the men ooula travel to and from their work
through the return ; that the hauk^ road be wider to
permit rider to jump off journey in case of accident by
faUs of roof or sides or breakage." That, I think, has
been sufficiently covered ? — ^Yes, that has been covered.
I have also gone into that matter very carefully, and
taking the period in which I stated the accidents from
faUs of roof and sides, from 1900 to 1906, the accidents
in haulage main roads and headings in my district have
been 19 out of 95 — about 20 per cent, of fatal accidents.

35101. What do you mean by a separate code of signals ?
— I mean where a haulage engine is bringing coal from
two separate districts that there should be a separate code
of signalling from each district.

35102. The signals are somewhat jumbled up. You
do not know where they come from ? — ^That is so.

35103. Is there a separate code of signals in-many mines
you know of in South Wales ? — Yes, some.

35104. In some there are, and in others there are not ? —

35105. With regard to safety lamps you say, " Should
be extended to aU mines where the slightest detection of
gas may be found." You mean where there is a cap
found ? — Yes.

35106. As to investigation into mine accidents you say,
** In fatal accidents that men or men's representatives be
permitted to visit place of accident." Would you suppose
any manager of a mine would prevent properly accredited
representatives going down to see the place of accident
if desired ?-^I do not suggest they would prevent it at
all, but if it was compulsory, of course, there could be
no objection, could there ? — I believe it should be com-

35107. You do not know of any instances where such
permission has been refused if it has been applied for.
Is it often applied for ? — ^Yes, in a number of cases.

35108. It is generally granted ? — ^Yes.

35109. You do not know a case where it has not been
granted 7— No.

35110. As to the importance of tram loading, you say*
** The trams be loaded to their level to prevent coal being
strewn on main haulage roads." That is, loaded not
above their level ? — ^Yes. I have nothing to add.

35111. "The danger of breaking of trams when
load^ with coal." That means the trams ought to be
kept in a proper state of repair ? — Yes. The short point
is that the trams in operation in South Wales now are
such that men have to load 2ft or 3 ft. above their level,
with the result on the main haulage roads they have a
great tendency of breaking down, and coal is dropped
about until it accumulates seriously.

351 12. Not only loaded so that the coal falls off the top,
but also sometimes to break down the wagons altogether ?

35113. {Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) With reference to the
firemen, should not the manager have the appointment
of his own firemen. Do you think the inspector should
appoint his firemen ? — I do not think I suggested that. I
suggested, I think, that if the management is desirous
of selecting a fireman, he should state the qualifications
of the person selected to the inspector for his approval

' 35114. That is to say, the inspector would decide
whether the fireman should be appointed or not ?-^
He would have that power.

35115. Do you think if that were done it is right to
leave the responsibility upon the manager if he has not
the right to appoint his own fireman ? — He would have
the right to appoint him.

35116. The inspector decides who is to be appointed.
Supposing he is a good man he wishes to appoint, and
the inspector said, " You must not appoint that man,"
and mischief happens. Is he to be held responsible ? —
I think you beg tb^ question with regard to tlie inspector.
I do not mean to say that he should be the decisive factor

in appointing the man, but ^<tat the man's qualifications
shoidd be submitted to him. The management should
have the control of selecting the fireman.

351 17. What is the object of putting his qualifications,
before the chief inspector ? — To secure better men, of

35118. Is he entitled to appoint a man after putting
his qualifications before the chief inspector, whether he
approves or not ? — ^To my mind, under those circum-
stances, if the manager had to state the qualifications
of any particular individual whom he desired to be a
fireman he would not select the man that is selected at
the present time.

35 1 19. What control is the manager to have in appointing
his firemen ? Anyone he thinks a proper person he submits
to the inspector ? — ^That is so.

35120. But the inspector could not say, " You shall
not appoint this man." He is simply to have his
qualifications ? — ^That is alL

35121. With reference to the falls of roof and sides,
where do they generidly happen — ^in the roadways or at
the face ? — In the roadways. Out of that number I gave
you there were four which happened in the face. The
remainder of them happened in the roadways, headings and

35122. How many on the roadways, headings and
haulage from falls of roof and sides ? — About 25.

35123. Out of 30 ?— 25 out of a total of 31.

35124. A great proportion of the accidents do not
happen at the face but on the roads ? — ^Yes.

35125. To what do you attribute that 7 — I could not
say what I attribute it to. I have known cases where,
through the restriction of the workmen in putting up
timber, an accident has happened in that direction, but
I would not like to say that tne whole of them happened
in that way.

35126. Can you suggest how that large percentage of
accidents can be avoided 7 — ^I have Imown last year
where two men met with fatal accidents in my district,
and that was, in my opinion, through the roof not being
properly timbered. That was on a main haulage road.
One was a timberman and the other an overman.

35127. Do you think it is because the timbermcn are
not qualfied 7 — ^I think if that place had been timbered,
the accident would not have happened when the men
were sent to work there.

35128. In the haulage roads there is no question of
pa3ring for this timber. The men who look after the
haulage roads can put up what timber they like. They
are not like the collier who is only paid for what timber
he puts up 7 — ^There is in the headings. I am speaking
about the headings now.

35129. Have you any statistics to show what pro-
portion happens in the headings and what proportion
in the haulage roads 7-rNo : I am giving you a case which

35130. Have you any statistics to show the proportion 7

35131. You say a great many of these accidents happen
in the haulage roads 7 — ^Yes.

35132. It is important to see how many happen in the
headings 7 — I said haulage, main roads, ana headings.

35133. I want to know a little more that that. At the
face where the collier is answerable for the timber there
are comparatively few out of the total nimiber, but on the
roads there are a great many. These roads are partly
timbered by men who axe paid for it, and who have no
reason for not putting as much timber as they wishr
Then there is the gate, the entrace to the working face,
where the collier has to do the timbering. Have you any
statistics to show the proportion that happen in the
haulage roads when the timbering is done by the timber-
man, to compare with those which happen in the gates
when the timbering is done by the collier 7 — No.

35134. Could that be obtained, do you think 7—1 could
not obtain it, so far as I am concerned, because if a claim
is made for the accidents of which I have given statistics,
it is a fatal accident in the roadway or the face, and I
should not know whether it was a haulage main road or
a heading.

35135. What are the character of the haulage aooidentB
in your own district for which you have returns 7 — The
character of those accidents would be through a shackle


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breaking or a rope breaking, or, as I said, by the trams
being loaded and the coal b«ing in the middle of the road-
way so that it would throw l£e trams of! the road and
cause an accident in that direction.

35136. I want to see if in your stadatics you can point
to any particular class of accident which has caused loss
of life or serious accident to any persons employed ? — ^No,
the notice of this comes to me in a general way.

35137. You cannot point to any particular matter in
connection with haulage where further safety should be
secured or where you think some improvement might be
made ? — ^I think the roadB ought to be kept cleaner and
ought to be made wider.

35138. Are these accidents attributable to the roads
not being kept clean ? — I could not tell.

35139. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) In the face, timber paid for
or not paid for has to be put up at stipulated distances ?

35140. Whether it is necessary or not ? — That is so.

35141. In the roadway there is no such stipulation 7 —

35142. Independent of any payment at all, it is your
opinion that if there was a stipulated distance, according
to the necessity of the mine, for the timber to be put up,
that would be the means of reducing these accidents to
which you have referred ? — I believe it would.

. 35143. If the stipulation, which has proved to be a
«^ safe one for the men in the pit, was also made for the men

in the roads, that would bring about the same result, the

lessening of accidents ? — I think so.

35144. This is a very important point. You are clear
upon that point in your own mind ? — ^I am profoundly
convinced as to that. I do not suggest men should use
timber where it is not necessary, but I think if there was
a stipulation, such as you suggest, it would minimise the
fatal accidents.

35145. What class of men are injured on the roads in
the accidents you have spoken of ? — ^They are hauliers
and riders and timbermen.

35146. What was the position of the haulier when he
was injured 7 — ^I have one case in my mind which I know
fully about. It was because of insufficient room. One went
to lift the tram on with the horse and if he had had a
place to jump to on one side, there is no doubt his life
would have been saved.

35147. One case is worth a thousand opinions. Have
you another case of a timherman getting killed. If so,
what was his position and what was it attributed to 7 —
I referred to the case in answer to Mr. Ellis of a timberman
and an overman. If the place which they were sent to
secure had been timbered they would not have been

35148. That is systematic timbering again 7 — ^Yes.

35149. You have mentioned 31. Could you give us
other instances of other men that were killed. Will you
tell U3, if you remember, what they were doing at the
time 7 — I could not bring them all to mind now.

35150. Is your opinion based upon your own knowledge
of these facts. If the roads were wider and there
were places for the men to turn into the instant
they saw danger, do you think that would be a
means of reducing these accidents 7 — That is so. I
have one case in my mind where a man was killed
after the fireman passed through his place. It was men-
tioned by the previous witness. The nreman thought the
place was absolutely safe, but in a short period of time,
20 minutes or half an hour, a man was crushed to death.
At the inquiry Mr. Martin almost went so far as to say
that the man's death lay at the fireman's door. If
systematic timbering had been insisted on in that case,
that man would not have been killed. -

35151. What is your opinion with regard to using the
return airways as travelling roads 7 — I think it would
be very much safer to the men, particularly coming from
their working place. In the majority of cases I think,
going to their working places the haulage is not in motion,
but in coming from their working places in the majority
of cases it is in motion. If the return airway was kept
in that condition I believe it would be conducive to tne
safety of the men.

35152. You have been a practical miner 7 — Yes, I have
had 22 years' experience.

35153. Do you think there is any special difficulty
beyond what we all know, that there would be an extra

first cost in doing it 7 Do you think there is ary practical fh^r. M,
difficulty in doing that 7—1 do not think so. I quite wl Roach.

agree with you so far as the first cost is concerned there ■ I

would be that difficulty, but after that I do not think so. 13 Dec, 1907

35154. If that was done, making the return airway
a travelling road, would be better than the widening
of the intake where the trams are travelling 7 — That
is so.

(Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) The witness said he had also to
consider the safety of the men on the trams.

35155. [Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Having extra travelling
roads would reduce a certain number of accidents which
are not actually caused by trams 7 — Yes, there is no
doubt it would. I think the return airway should be kept
in that position, so tliat a tram could pass through it at
all times.

35156. That would increase the ventilation of the
colliery as well as increase the safety 7 — Yes, and further-
more it would be the means, where a serious accident
happens in mines which are three-quarters or a mile, of
faciutating the removal of the injured workman or work-
men by being able to bring them that way instead of
through the main intake where tliey are exposed to the

35157. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) On the question of trams
I think you stated that the trams are very often loaded
in South Wales between two and three feet above the top
of the tram 7 — Up to two feet, I think I said.

351 58. I think you said two to three feet 7 — Very well
if I said so I did, but I think there is some exaggeration.
I would say up to two feet. I do not think they are three

35159. Would it not be more correct to say from 1 ft.
to 18 ins. That would be more like the state of things 7
— ^Yes, I agree with you in that, although I do not think
I should hb exaggerating very greatly. I think I have
a colliery in my district where they are loaded very nearly
a yard.

35160. I suggest if it were as high as 3 ft. he must be
a very good loader 7 — They are good loaders.

35161. We do not say we have not good loaders, but
he would be an especially good one. What about on an 1 1
average do the trams hold as thev are loaded on ordinary \\
work at present time 7 — It would be very difficult to give
the average of the various collieries, but in the top coUiery,

22 cwt. to 23 cwt.. and in the next 23 cwt. to 24 cwt.,
and the next above that 26 cwt., and the one below that
I think I would not be exaggerating to any extent in
saying a yard, 27 cwt. or 28 cwt.

35162. On an average from 20 cwt. to 25 cwt. 7— Yes, |\
on an average.

35163. The haulage roads and thie stall roads must
be kept fairly high and in pretty good condition 7 — ^Yes,
the height could be kept, but the width may not be there
after aS.

35164. It has not come before me personally before that
they are loaded so well that sometimes the trams break
down. Do you really mean that 7 — Yes, I do mean that

35165. You mean the tram itself, which is an iron tram;
breaks, down because of the weight of the coal in it 7 —
No, I do not say it breaks down because of the weight
of the coal in it, but if a little stone out of the side tumbled
on the rail in the course of that journey, going up and
down the road, it would throw the tram off, with the result
that they would go into one another and knock them

35166. You said it was because they were heavily
loaded that the trams broke down. This is another
position you put now, that the trams occasionally go off
the rails. That I can understand 7 — ^You could under-
stand the other point, too, that there are occasions where
they break down.

35167. Do you not really mean when the trams go off
the line and the coal is spilt about, that it interferes with
the haulafl;e 7 — And there are occasions where they do not
go off ana they break down.

35168. Can you give one instance of a tram that has
broken down from the load of coal on it 7 — I have been
from underground 9 or 10 years, but I have seen it in my
own experience. I could name the colliery if you desire

35169. Did the bottom fall out, or the side 7— The side,
and I have seen the front and the end falling out


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Mr, M, 35170. What is your chief reason for suggesting that

RoacK the trains should not be loaded so high ? — To prevent

this — ^jrou have requested me to give my opinion upon it

13 Dec, 1907 — to prevent the breakages.

• 35171. Is that the only one ? — No, because the coal

after it has broken down, creates confusion if it remains
there too long.

35172. Do you think the men in the stall roads should
put up timber whenever they think proper without the
sanction of the management ? — I think inasmuch as they
have to use their discretion as to safety in the working
place, that they should use the same discretion in the
roads. I do not suggest that the men should put up
unnecessary timber.

35173. A man in his place puts up the timber to keep
himself safe ? — ^He has to do the same thing in the roads.

35174. But he is paid for it ?— Yes.

35175. Do you think it is reasonable that the man there
should be idlowed to put up as much timber as he likes
and get paid for it without the sanction of the manage-
ment 7 — I think it is reasonable he should put up sufficient
timber to meet his own safety and that there should be
a maximum in the road the same as there is in the working

35176. There are very few accidents at the face ? —

35177. Has there ever come before you at all a man
who has a hard place or a man possibly — there are
some occasionally — who may be rather a lazy workman,
and who likes to put up extra timber because he gets
paid for it, instead of going on with his work at the face.
I suggest that to you. If the management is not to decide
that man can put up as much timber as he likes and eke
out his wages 7 — ^Not if there was a maxim^um distance.

35178. We are not talking about systematic timbering 7
— I say if there is a maximum distance he could do so,
and I do not think any man who has any common sense
whatever would use timber that was not necessary.

35179. Not the great bulk of the men, but you can
conceive it 7 — I can conceive an exception, certainly.

35180. It is better for them to work at the coal face
as a rule. With regard to systematic timbering you think
tjiere ought to be fixed distances in every colliery all over
the country 7 — I do.

35181. In the stall roads and In the faces, everywhere 7

35182. You know from your experience that the con-
ditions in certain collieries differ very much from the
conditions in others 7 — ^Yes, I know that.

35183. Do you think it would be a wise thing to state
certain distances which timber would have to be put up
all over the country 7 — I think so. For instance, I gave
the case to Mr. Abraham where the fireman thought the
place was safe and the maximum distance was not observed.
The workman thought the place was safe and down comes
the top and kills him.

35184. Do you not think it would be a hardship to
other collieries which have good roof, and where very
few accidents happen from falls of roof and sides, and
whose timbering cost generally is small, that they should
put up just as much timber in their place as a colUery
which has a bad roof and is difficult to keep up ?*— Yes,
I think they should.

35185. Do you not think that would be a hardship 7 —
It may be a hardship, but after all the safety of the men
is to be considered in the first place.

35186. Do you know many districts besides South
Wales in England 7 — ^Yes, I do. I never worked in any
English district. I have worked in several districts in
South Wales.

35187. You would say, I suppose, or you know, possibly
from general report that there is hardly any other district
in the country that uses more timber than we do in Wales 7
— I do not think there is.

35188. Do vou not think there is a difficulty in laying
down a fixed law that timbering, in the same way as many
other points, should apply to the whole of the country
where the conditions are very different 7 — ^There may be
a difficulty, but after all the safety of the workmen is the
first consideration I believe.

35189. That is your opinion 7 — That is my opinion.

35190. (Mr. Wm, Abraham,) He has not suggested the
same distance should be marked all over the country 7 —
I said a maximum.


(Mr, Wm, Abraham,) A ^Aximum, according to the

35191. (Mr, F, L, Dams.) Iliere should be a maximum 7

35192. Who is to • decide in each particular colliery,
according to the circumstances, what the distances in that
colliery are to be 7 — I think the Home Office should decide

35193. The Home Office 7 — ^Yes, through the inspector's
report of the colliery.

35194. That really means the inspector 7 — Yes.

35195. He should decide in each colliery what the
distance should be 7 — Yes, the Home Office through the

35196. Do you not think, if the inspector had to decide
for each colliery what the distance should be that would
take the whole responsibility off the management 7 —
I do not think so.

35197. I suggest that it would. Do you think it is wise
to do anything to give the inspectors more power than
they have at the present time in such a way as to take the
responsibility off the management 7 — I am giving you my
opinion that the Home Office should decide as to what the

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 141 of 177)