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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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thousands of hair-breadth escapes which take place
annually at collieries where no catches are provided, that
could and would be avoided if kepts or catches were made

3rd. — That there be a General Rule inserted in the
Mines Act Amendment Bill : —

" TfuU Enginemen be compelled to give return

signals to the Hooker-on before starting the engine

when men are about to ascend or descend. Also

that signals be registered until complied uM.**

" The first is imperatively necessary, because both the

browman and engineman are supposed to be ready before

the signal is given to the hooker-on for men to get into the

cage, but where the browman has charge of the return

signal it is frequently given without ascertaining whether
the engineman is ready or not. In some instances Engine-
men might not be ready, consequently the men in the cage
at the bottom might become alarmed at the delay and
attempt to get out again just at the moment the engineman
was starting, entailing loss of life.

" Self -registering signals are eminently desirable as a
check to the over-taxed mind of the engineman, who has
to concentrate his attention (under ordinary conditions)
to three important objects at once, i.e. : —

The signal from the bottom ;

The signal from the brow ; and

The manipulation of the engines,

which makes it difficult to remember the signals, especially
if there should happen to be a little delay with the cage
at the surface. Under such circumstances, immediately
the browman is ready he gives the signal * go on ' to the
engineman (irrespective of any signal from the hooker-on at
the bottom) and, as a natural consequence, becomes very
tempting for the engineman to start the engine, notwith-
standing that no signal has been received from the hooker-
on at the bottom, and in some instances with fatal results.
There is also a varietv of other duties claiming an engine-
man's attention, such as attending to pumps, ventilating
fans, boilers, &c., making it difficult for an engineman to
hear distinctly the exact signal given. Under the above
circumstances, a registered signalling indicator would
enable the engineman to see at a glance the nature of signal
given; in oUier words, he would not have to depend
entirely upon acoustics, as he would have the assistance
of anoUier sense, namely, his eyesight. Henoe the necessity
for registered signals such as those used for communicating
with enginemen aboard modem steamships."

4th. — ^That there be a General Rule inserted in the
Mines Act Amendment Bill : —

** That there be a proper speaking tube erected
ai aU coUieries for the purpose of communication
betuxen banksman and winders.**

" The dvisirability of a speaking tube asja means of
communication between browman and engineman has long
been manifest at all collieries (1st) owing to the distance
apart from the engineman and browman are situated,
(2nd) the difficulty of not being able to see each other in
consequence of steam, smoke, fog, and in some cases a
large stack of coal between the engine-room and pit,
leaving the engineman entirely dependent upon the
browman's voice, which is extremely difficult to recognise
owing to men and bo3rs calling to eacn other, steam blowing
off at boilers, the noise made by locomotives shunting
wagons, and coal screening, air compressors, and in some
cases other winding engines in the same engine-room.
There are also various cases throughout Lemcashire where
enginemen are actually winding with their backs towards
the pit. These various evils make it utterly impossible
for an engineman clearly to understand his signal from the
browman, which is a cr3dng evil that has cost many a poor
fellow his life."

5th.— That General Rule 30 of Mines Act,' 1887, be
amended as follows : —

'' There shaU be attached to every machine
toorked by steam, water, or mechanical pouter, and
used for lowering and raising persons, an adequate
steam and foot brake, which shall be of sufficient
power to hdd the cages at rest, when the maximum
weight is attached, and a proper indicator (in
addition to any mark on the rope) showing to the
person who works the machine the position of the
load in the shaft.**

" This principle has been admitted and adopted, to a
certain extent, by General Rule 30, Mines Regulation Act,
1887. But the inspectors do not seem to reaUse what is
an adequate brake. Naturally we should expect an
adequate brake to mean one that ^ill hold any load an
engine will lift. Hence our definition, which states * that
an adequate steam and foot brake, and each shall be of
sufficient power to hold the cagea at rest when the
maximum weight is attached.' "

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6th. — ^That there be a General Rule inserted in the
Mines Aot Amendment Bill : —

" That there ahaU he, in future^ only one

winding engine in one engine-house, and that

partition toaUs he built between separate winding

engines at present in one engine-house. Also that

colliery winders be prohibited from doing any work

outside of their engine-house while men are down

in the mine,"

" Re one winding engine in one engine-house. The

necessity of such being placed upon the Statute Book is

demonstrated when you peruse the whole evils mentioned,

as they are so similar and bound together, that if you are

satisfied that one is necessary you must naturally conclude

that all are necessary. As regards colliery winders being

allowed to leave the engine-room while men are in the

mine, Special Rule 102, Mines Regulation Aot, 1887,

contends that the engineman shall attend during the whole

time anyone is below groimd in the mine. This does not

prohibit managers from insisting upon the winder at any

pit (no matter how many men there may happen to be

in the mine) going out of the engine-room and attending

to the boilers, the ventilating machinery, air compressors,

and pumps, in addition to being the ordinary colliery

watchman. Under such circumstances we contend that

it is impossible for us, as engine- winders, to fulfil our

obligations towards our fellow creatures, the miners.

Therefore we ask your able assistance in arranging the law

in such a manner that it will give satisfaction to us, and

protection to them whose lives we, as enginemen, have

entrusted to our charge."

7th. — ^That there be a General Rule inserted in the
MinAs Act Amendment Bill : —

" That detaching hooks and safety catches shall
he applied to aU pits where persons are lowered
into or raided out of mines by rnachinery.**
*' All practical men must confess that it is almost a
crime for Parliament to hesitate in making such compulsory,
as there is no chance whatever for those unfortunate persons
Uiat happen to be in the cage when overwinding takes place,
if there is no detaching and safety appliance to prevent
their being hurled over the headgear or thrown down th •
shaft, as either means death of the most horrifying descrip-
tion. It might be contended that overwinding fataUties
have occurred where safety appliances were provided ;
but such are invariably owing to detaching appliances
being badly erected, or for the want of cleaning, oiling, &c.,
which some employers have been indifferent about, knowing
that such were not compulsory. The result is sudh un-
fortunate calamities as that which recently occurred at
Westleigh, Lancashire, which makes it imperatively
necessary that detaching hooks and safety catches should
be made compulsonr ; also that they should be cleaned,
oiled, and examinea by a competent person at least once
every four weeks."

8th.— That there shall be added to Rule 32 of the Mines
R^;ulation Act, 1887 :—

" That aU boilers he examined (by a competent
person appointed by the Qovemment) at least once
every twelve months"
" The report of the Secretary of the Board of Trade upon
the working of the Boiler Explosions Acts, 1882 and 1889,
with appendices, tells its own norrible story of the appalling
loss of life through boiler explosions, which is not at aU
surprising when you peruse the Appendix D, which
demonstrates the startUng facts that out of 27 formal
enquiries into the circumstances attending boiler explosions
during the year ending June 30th, 1895, causing the death
of 39 persons and injury to 56 persons. Not one boiler
explosion out of the whole could the court of inquiry
attribute to an unavoidable accident. On the contrary,
it shows that such explosions were entirely due to ignorance,
negligence, and want of inspection. One case, with a
boiler 20 years old, because the steam gauge was graduated
at 80 lbs. per square inch, additional weights were put upon
the safety valve, culminating in an explosion.

" Another case, owner worked boiler 27 years at 60 lbs.
pressure to the square inch without any exam i nation, and
was somewhat astonished when it exploded, as he tiiought
it should work for an indefinite period without examination.
" Another case, where plates had deteriorated from ^
of an inch in thickness to tV> resulting in an explosion
killing five men.

" Another steam user thought his boiler was quite safe
so long as his hammer did not go through the plates when
tapping them."

These astonishing revelations must convince Parliament
that the eloquent appeal of the court investigating the
boiler explosion at the Bridgend, Glamorganshire, North's
Navigation Collieries, Limited, 1889, ought to be acted
upon, as it speaks out plainly, stating that Special Rules
for coUieries should demand in no unoertain terms that

boilers are to be thoroughly inspected, and at what intervals
of time they are to be inspected, and by whom this very
important auty is to be performed ; and unless Parliament
does interfere we shall see more of those terrible fatalities,
which the enactment of all the foregoing clauses would

In claiming your support, it cannot be denied that if the
above is to be accomplished, the following provisions
should be inserted in the Mines Regulation Act : —

1st. — "That indicator attached to winding
engines at pits where men ascend or descend shall
not travel more than once round, minus one inch
of each side of the centre, when indicating distance
from the surface to bottom of the shaft."
No one knows the necessity of such provisions better
than Government inspectors and engine-winders, as it is
a well-known fact that if indicators travel more than once
round when registering distance from surface to bottom
engine-winders are very liable to make mistakes, as it
becomes necessary for them to keep count, which is a most
dangerous practice, as the slightest omission on engine-
man's part might lead him to the conclusion that cages
were only in the middle of the shaft when such were really
approaching the surface — which would mean certain
destruction by overwinding and very hkely loss of life.

There is an instance on record where the indicator of an
engine at a colliery in the Wigan district, some years ago,
made exactly one revolution when registering distance
from surface to bottom, consequently Uie finger pointed
exactly to one mark for both cages ; result was engineman
during night-time forgot which cage he had at surface,
started wrong way, killing several miners. This would
very probably have been avoided had the indicator travelled
less than one revolution, as it would have pointed to
different marks for each cage ; hence the necessity for the
foregoing provision.

2nd. — " That colliery owners provide all

engine-winders with a report book, so as to

enable them to give their opinion respecting the

state of the engines (in addition to the book

provided for machinery inspector under Rule 5

of Mines Regulation Act, 1887)."

Special Rules in West Lancashire compel engineman to

examine the state of his engine, &c. (see Rule 96) ; also to

report to his superior officer any defect he may observe.

However, such reports are generally given orally to

inspector appointed in accordance with General Rule 5,

who, in some instances does not attempt to remedy such

defects, or even report, them. The result is that accidents

occur through such defects ; and the inspector, on such

occasions, is subject to a bad memory, as he really cannot

remember the engineman ever having spoken to him about

such defect. Therefore, if enginemen are to examine, let

the Mines Act demand that enginemen shall make a true

report of such examination, and every such report be

recorded in writing and signed by engineman.

3rd. — " That engine- winders' representatives
be allowed to take part in the framing of Special
This is a question of vast importance, owing to the
peculiar nature of the engine-winders' work, which does
not seem to be fully comprehended by those who framed
Special Rules in connection with the Coal Mines Regulation
Act, 1887. For instance, in Lancashire, enginemen are
supposed to examine the ropes, which is almost impossible,
unless he gets someone to turn the engines round whilst
he examines ropes coiling on or off the ^nm, as he cannot
make any adequate examination of the ropes and stand at
the handles turning the engines round. He is also held
responsible in banksman's absence for persons descending
the pit without permission from the proper authority,
and has to see that no person goes down the pit in a state
of intoxication, and that no intoxicating drinks are taken
down the pit without the consent of the manager, in
addition to seeing that the safety gates are in a proper
position. These duties cannot be fulfilled by engine-
winders with anything like satisfaction during night-time,
as the enginemen are such a long distance from the fence
gates and place where men get into the cage, that it is
impossible for him to see whether men are strangers or
intoxicated ; and if he left his handles to go and see while
they were getting into the cage he would be violating
Special Rule 102, which places engine-winders in a most
objectionable position.

These facts are quite sufficient to demonstrate that
engine- winders, by all means, should have a voice in the
making of special Rules for mines' regulation.

Your consideration and support in favour of the fore-
going will be greatly appreciated both by engine-winders
and miners, and will entitle you to the gratitude and
thanks of your countrymen.

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APnNBiz ;



A Bill to amend the Law relating to Coal Mines {presented by Mr. Wadsworth^ supported by
Mr. William Abraham (Rhondda), Mr. Enoch Edwards, Mr. Harvey , Sir Joseph
Leese, Mr. Brace, Mr. Keir Hardie, Mr. James Haslam, Mr. Glover, Sir Alfred
Jacoby, and Mr. William Johnson. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed^
February I5th, 1907. [BiU 24.] ).



Special Rules.

Special rules for mining districts.

2. Alaking of special rules.


3. Amendments relating to shafts.

4. Board for appointing examiners.

5. Amendments relating to accidents.

6. Examination of mines by inspectors.

7. Appointment of assistant inspectors.

8. Investigation of explosion and accidents.

9. Jury at coroner's inquest.

10. Proceedings at coroner's inquest.

11. Amendments of general rules.

12. Supply of copies of Act and special rules.

13. Interpretation.

14. Repeals.

16. Construction and short title.

Be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, b} and
with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and
Temporal, and Commons, in this present Pariiament
assembled, and by the authority of the same, as
follows : —

Special Rules.

1. — (1) There shall be established in every mining
district such special rules for the conduct and guidance of
the persons acting in the management of mines in the
district, or employed in or about such mines, as under
the particular circumstances of the district may appear
best calculated to prevent dangerous accideute, and to
provide for the safety, convenience, and proper discipline
of the persons employed in or about the mines in the

(2) The special rules shall be observed in and about
every mine in the district for which the rules are estab-
lished in the same manner as if they were enacted in this

(3) If any i)erson who is bound to observe the special
rules estabhshed in any district acts in contravention of
or fails to comply with any of them he shall be deemed to
be guilty of an offence against the Coal Mines Regulation
Act, 1887 (in this Act referred to as the principal Act),
and also the owner, agent, and manager of the mine in
or about which the offence occurs shall each be deemed
to be guilty of an offence against the principal Act unless
he proves that he had taken all reasonable means, by
publishing and to the best of his power enforcing the
special rules, to prevent such contravention or non-

{i) The provisions in the principal Act relating to special
rules made under that Act shall, so far as they are not
hereby repealed, apply to sjwcial rules made under this

(5) All special rules made under the provisions of the
principal Act and in force in any mine to which special
rules made for a district under this Act apply, shall be
repealed from the date on which the special rules for the
district come ipto operation.

2.— (1) The Secretary of State shall draw up special
rules for each mining district, after ascertaining, in such
manner as he thinks fit, the opinions of representatives of
owners of mines in the district, and of representatives of
workmen employed in such mines, and of the inspector of
mines for the districtb

(2) Expenses incurred by the Secretary of Stale under th%9
section shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament,

(3) The Secretary of State shall lay special rules before
Parliament as soon as possible after they are drawn up,
and they shall come into operation at the end of three
months from the time when they are laid before Parliament.


3. In section sixteen, subsection one, of the principal
Act for the paragraphs marked (a), (b), and (c) the follow-
ing paragraphs shall be substituted, namely : —

{a) There must be at least two shafts or outlets with
which every seam for the time being at work
in the mine shall have a commimication :

(6) Where a seam extends for more than one mile
there shall be at least two shafts or outlets in
every mile with which every seam for the time
being at work in the mine shall have a com-
munication ; provided that the senior inspector
for a district shall have power to exempt any
mine in his district from this requirement, if in
his opinion the mine ie either non-fiery, prac-
tically worked out, or worked under a mountain
or under the sea :

(r) Such shafts or outlets must in all cases affoid
separate means of ingress and egress available

' to the persons employed in every sach seam,

whether the shafts or outlets belong to the
same mine or to more than one mine :

(d) Such shafts or outlets must not at any point be

nearer to one another than fifteen yards^ and
there shall be between such shafts and outlets
a*communication not less than four feet wide
and four feet high, and in the case of com-
/ munications made after the commencement of
this Act between shafts or outlets, not less
than five feet high :

(e) Proper apparatus for r£using and, lowering persons

at each such shaft or outlet shall be kept on
the works belonging to the mine ; and such
apparatus, if not in actual use at the shafts
or outlets; shall be constantly available for

(/) There shall be placed at convenient situations in
the mine, for use in the case of accident^ plans
or other indications of the easiest means of
gaining access to the return airways.

4. Six persons employed, or who have been employed,
as workmen in any mine, not being owners, agents, or
managers of a mine, shall be members of any boa^ estab-
lished under section twenty-three of the principal Act for
the appointment of examiners for the purpose of granting
certificates of competency under that Act.

6. — (1) In section thirty-five of the principal Act, at
the end of subsection two, the following words shall be
added, namely : —

Where loss of life or personal injury has occurreo as
aforesaid, the owner, agent, or manager of thp
mine shall allow a person authorised by the
injured person or his representative to visit the
place of the explosion or accident at any reasonable
time, and to make a plan of the place, and to
obtain any reasonable information.

(2) In section thirty-five of the principal Act, alter
subsection three, the following subsection shall be added,
namely : —

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Every owner, agent, or manager of a mine sliall keep
a register of aooidentfi, and shall enter therein
every accident occurring in or about the mine
causing personal injury to any person employed
in or about the mine within one week after the
occurrence of the accident, and this register shall
be at all times open to inspection by the inspector
of the district.

6. In section forty-one of the principal Act, at the end,
the following words shall be added, namely : —

In eveiy district an inspector shall make a complete
examination of every mine, and every part thereof,
at least once in every six months ;

It shall be the duty of an inspector making any
inspection, examination, or inquiry under this
section, in any mine or part thereof, within six
days, to enter in writing in a book to be kept for
the purpose in the mine, a report of such inspec-
tion, examination, or inquiry.

7. — (I) In every mining district as defined in this Act
a Secretary of State shall appoint assistant inspectors so
that there shall be an inspector for every ten thousand
persons employed above or below ground in connection
with mines in the district.

(2) In the appointment of assistant inspectors preference
shall be given to persons having practical knowl^ge of the
Working of mines, and especially to persons who hold
Certificates of competency under the principal Act.

(3) A Secretary of State may remove any assistant
inq>eotor, and may grant him such salary as the Treasury
may approve.

(4) The salaries b/ etssuOani inspectors, and the expenses
incurred by them, sh!aU be paid out of moneys to he provided
by Pariiament.

(5) The assistant inspectors shall be generally under the
control of the senior inspector of the district, and may
perform any of the duties of an inspector which may be
delegated to them, eitiier generally or in special cases by
the inspector, and shall also perform any duties which
may be assigned to them by a Secretary of State.

(6) Any special report made by an inspector or an
assistant inspector with respect to an explosion or accident
shall be presented to a Secretary of State, and shall also
be incluaed in the inspector's annual report.

8. Where an explosion or accident has occurred in any
mine, and an apphcation in writing signed by six workmen
employed in the mine is made to the Secretary of State,
requesting him to direct an investigation to be held of
such explosion or accident, and of its causes and circum-
dtances, the Secretary of State shall direct such an
investigation to be held, and the provisions of section
forty-five of the principal Act shall apply to such an

9. In section forty-eight of the principal Act, there shall
be substituted for subsection seven the following words,
namely : —

The jury empanelled on the inquest shall include at
least three persons who are or have been practical
miners ; but any person having a personal interest
in, or employed in; or in the management of, the
mine in which the explosion or accident occurred
* shall not be oualified to serve on the jury ; and
it 6hall be the duty of the constable or other
officer not to summon any person disqualified
under this proviBion> and it shall be the duty of
the coroner not to allow any such persons to be
sworn or to sit on the jury.

10. At any coroner's inquest on the body of any person
whose death may have been caused by any ej^losions or
accidents in or about mines —

(1) The inspector of the district shall be oaUed as a

witness by the coroner:

(2) Any person authorised by one or more workmen

at the mine at which the explosion or accident
has occurred may attend and examine any
witness, eitiier in person or by his counsel,

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 160 of 177)