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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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considerable number of changes during those 29 years ? —

22939. Mr. Ralph Moore at one time was Chief
Inspector while jow were underground, for many
years P — Yes.

22940. Did you ever see him ? — No.
•I 22941. As a matter of fact yon have only seen one
'll inspector underground P — Yes.

22942. Are the collieries in Ayrshire better conducted P
Are the ventilation and general conditions better than
elsewhei'e ? — I should not say they are.

22943. ^Do you think more frequent inspection is
required P— Yes, certainly much more than I have been
in the habit of seeing.

22944. Has inspection by Government inspectors
tended to greater safety underground P — ^Yes.

22945. Do you know whether or not the mines
managers are given notice of a proposed visit by the
inspectors? — I have always conaidered so, because I
never happened to know of an inspector being in the

. district except when an accident has happened.

22946. When an accident has happened they naturally
know an inspector will be visiting r— Yes.

22947. Have you heard of visits by the inspector to
the mines when considerable preparation has been
made ? — I have known that preparation was made after
an accident. I never knew of another visit. There may
have been one.

22948. You do not know of any surprise visits other
than those where accidents have taken place P — No.

22949. You think that there might be considerable
increase in the number of inspectors, and that there
should V)e more surprise visits P — I think so.

22950. You have had a long experience of pit firemen P
— Yes, I have worked under them all that time.

22951. You hav'e known a considerable number from
first to last P— Hundreds.

22952. Are they usually a fairly capable class of men?
— Sometimes, but were I a manager I would not care to
employ some of them.

22953. You do not think they are the very best class
of men to be found in the mines P — OocasionaUy, but
certainly not very often.

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22954. Not as a rule?— Not as a rule.

22955. You have not very much explosive gas in
Ayrshire P — Yes, in my own particular district.

22956. Annbank?— Ayr Colliery.

22957. It is worked with safety lights P— Mostly. Soft
coal always.

22958. A fireman in a case of that kind would require
to be a very competent person to look after the safety ?
— He ought to be.

22959. Have you had anv explosion at Annbank
Colliery? — We have had slight explosions. Nine years
ago we had an explosion at Drumlee Pit, in which seven
lives were lost — I shjuld think about nine years in

22960. We have been told that the firemen in Ayrshire
are not very well paid. They are paid 5s. 4d. to 6s. 6d. a
day ? — That is so. That is about the average. In the
Colliery just now I think it is about 58. lOd.

N 22961. You do not think that is a wage which would
I encourage the best class of men ? — You cannot get them
I at the wage, generally speaking.

\ 22962. You cannot get good men at that wage ?— It
\is not to be expected.

22963. Do you consider a fireman a very important
official about the colliery so fai* as safety is concerned ?

22964. Do you think that the best cla^sof men should
be chosen for work of that kind ? — I do.

22965. You favour the holding of an examination and
the granting of certificates of competency ? — Yes.

22966. You think that everything should be done that
can be done to pi^event accidents at wheel braes, and
arising from contmuous haulage P — Yes.

22967. You think that something more than is done
now might be done and might be made compulsory ?—
Quite easily.

22968. We had before us the question of runaway
points to prevent accidents on braes, and a continuous
chain over the top of a train of trams, so that if a
breaking of a coupling or a draw bar takes place, it
might prevent a runaway. You would favour those
things being made compulsory by law P — Yes.

22969. Do you think it would lead to a lessening of
the accidents arising from haulage P — It certamly

22970. Many of those accidents which take place now
could be prevented if the appliances which we know of
were made compulsory ? — That is so.

22971. Most of those appliances might be provided
at a trifling cost P — ^Very little.

22972. There is nothing that is proposed to prevent
haulage accidents which would be prohibitive so far as
the price is concerned P — ^No.

22973. Have you heard of accidents occurring to men
sometimes in the night time or at other times during
the day when they were working in an isolated position
and no person near them P — I luive known one or two
accidents to the men at the coal face working singly. I
have known other cases where a very serious accident
might have iiappened to the man, only he escaped pro-
videntially one might say.

22974. Ic ou do not think it is a good thing that a
workman should be working alone at night time, or in any
isolated part of the pit ? If an accident takes place
which might not otherwise prove fatal, it may from the
want of assistance P — Yes.

22975. In Scotland there have been a considerable
number of men who have lost their lives who were
proved afterwards to have live 1 a considerable time and
died because they could not assist themselves ? — Yes.

2*2976. Do you think it a wise precaution that two
'jmen should be employed together where they are isolated,
'or working in the night P — I think it should be com-
: pulsory.

22977. Dealing with the introduction of any new
explosive here, as to whether a change of eroloeive
should be brought to you, ^ou say it is desirous that the
workmen should have a voice in savins if there should
be a change, and what explosive should be used P — It
comes hu3 on the men who have changes sprung upon
them, as I have seen at times.

22978. You will admit that the explosive which is
proved by experts to be the safest possible explosive is
the explosive which should be used ? — Certainly.

22979. You wou Id not allow anything to stand in the
way of safety P — Certainly not.

22980. Do you think the explosives the men use are
changed from time to time without their being in any
way consulted about the matter P — That is so.

22981. It is not always beneficial P — I have thought so
many a time as a practical miner.

22982. You advocate that there should be drinking
water provided in the mine for the men ? — Yes.

22983. It is the case that men often in our Scotch
mines have to go all day unless they carry water with
them. They cannot get water unless they run the risk
of drinking water that should not be drunk ? — Yes.

22984. You think it would not cost very much to put
water in ? — No.

22985. {Mr, Bitcliffe EUis.) Upon the question of the
inspectors, do you suggest that there should be an
increased staff of Government inspectors ? — Yes.

22986. What is your view as to how often a pit should
be inspected by the Government inspector ? — I have not
thought carefully out as to how many inspections, but a
great many more might be made than are made.

22987. Do you think once in every six months every
pit should be examined P — I think six months would he
rather a long period.

22988. They say at present in Scotland that they
examine each pit once a year, at any rate six months
is not often enough ? — ^I think not.

22989. How often would you think ? — At least once
a quarter, I should think.

22990. Do you think it would be necessary to examine
all the pits every quarter, or might some not be examined
so frequently and some more frequently ? — Of course an
inspector knows his district and his pits, and some
mines might be advantageously examined more often
than others.

22991-3. Would you leave that to the inspector's judg-
ment, as to how frequently he should examine? — it
would depend upon the inspector.

22994. That is a little awkward to work out P— It
might be, perhaps.

22995. Assuming an inspector was a competent man,
give him credit for competency, would you leave it to
him to say how frequently he should visit the pits in his
district ? — No, I think it ought to be compulsory that a
visit should be paid' at a staled internal, and not
less than

Mr, James

13 Jime^l907

Not less that once a quarter P — Yes.

22997. What do you mean by a " visit " ? Do you mean
he should go through the whole of the mine, all
the working parts P — Why not.

22998. I am asking you. I do not want you to ask me
Questions. When you say he should visit it do you mean
tnat he should go through the whole of the working
places of the mme P — I think he ought.

22999. You are actually engaged in mining now? —
No. I have not been at the coal face for about three

23000. When you did work what were the number of
men employed underground in the mine where you
worked? — The last pit I worked in there were about

23001. That is not a very large place P — One of the
largest in Ayrshire.

23002. How long would it take one man to make such
an inspection as vou consider ought to be made of the
whole of the working places in the mine, and the whole
of the mine where mspection ought to be made P — He
might do it, if he cared to work long enough, in one day,
or a day and a half.

23003. What distance would he have to travel? — It
would depend upon the age of the mine.

23004. In the mine you worked in ? — ^Do you mean
the whole of the area of the mln^ P

23005. What you say ought to be inspected. What
would satisfy you? — Taking everything into account,
perhaps about 2 miles or 2^ miles to cover everything.

23006. That would cover everything? — ^I could not
swear to that.

23007. Do you think about 2 or 2^ miles would cover
the whole?— Yes.

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Mr, James


23008. Would ihat ooyer all the tnLTelling roads, the
aii'wajs and working plaoee P — ^It would, nearly. I am
thinking more particularlj of the mine I worked last at.

23009. I am speaking of that. What distance is the
furthest place from the shaft ? — So far as I remember,
about 800 or 900 yards at that time.

23010. That is getting on for over half a mile. That
is one road, and that is the main road P — Yes.

23011. What area of faces have you open ? — The area
is not large. There are two or three sections worked.

23012. Do you think that you are ri^ht in saying
2i miles ? — I woiild not swear to that, as I have told you.

23013. It might be double that ?— I do not think it
would be double, but it might be considerably more.

23014. How many firemen are employed there P —
There are four firemen.

23015. For the whole pit ? — Yes. Excuse me, there
were seven firemen ; four firemen for one seam, and three
for the other.

23016. The whole of the pit is only 2J miles to travel P
— I do not say it is only 2k miles ; it might be consider-
ably over. I would not like to say.

23017. I am talking of the time when seven firemen
were employed ? — Yes.

23018. I want to know the distance these seven
firemen had to go. If 2^ miles would take them all over
the place.

23019. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Had you both seams in
your mind when you said 2i miles ? — 1 was thinking of
one seam.

23020. {Mr. Batcliffe Ellis.) I want to know at the
colliery at which you were working the length of time it
would take an inspector or a person making an inspection
of an extent as you say ought to be made to make that
inspection P — It is not difficult to count up when you
know the time each firemen takes. It is not difficult to
multiply that by four, and then you would find out the

23021. Do you still think that one day or a day and a
half would enable you to make the inspection of the
pit ? — I should think so. I should not be afraid to
do it.

23022. What do you suppose you would gain in safety
by these more frequent inspections — ^these periodical
inspections by an inspector? — ^I should say if an
inspector was there he would see when any infringement
of the Coal Mines Regulation Act was taking place on
the part of the officials.

23023. He could only see that when he was there P —

23024. That would not be much use P— There is not
likely to be an infringement under the nose of the
inspectors P — If he came unexpectedly he would see it.

23026. I am speaking of periodical visits P — Well.

29026. Do you not think if you saw the condition of a
mine to-day and the condition of its management,
whether it was slack or good management, that it would

five you an idea of the condition of the mine P — Yes,

23027. An inspector or you yourself, if you went down
over part of a pit and saw it was satisfactory and smart,
would conclude that was satisfactory and take that as a
sample P — Not on the first visit — ^perhaps after once or

23028. The inspectors know their pita P— Yes.

23029. Knowing the pits, havinp^ been down before
and seen the condition at one part, it would give vou an
idea as to what the whole of it was like P — It might.

23030. Do you suggest that the firemen should net be
discharged by the manager P — I do.

23031. You would not extend that protection to the
manager — you would allow the owner to discharge the
manager P — I should think I would.

23032. And under-manager P — Yes.

28033. But the fireman is not to be discharged P —

23034. When he is once appointed he is practically
appointed to that pit for life, unless he wants to go
awayP — Not necessarily.

23035. How would you get rid of himP — If he was
infringing any bye-laws of the Act he might be got rid
of in that way.

. Supposing the manager thought he was
unsuitable for the job, how would you enable the
manager to get rid of him P — ^I would not give him that

23037. If the fireman is an unsuitable man how can
the mana^r eet rid of him 7 — A manager might, if he
were unsuitable and gave him trouble.

23038. Supposing, rightly or wrongly, he thought so,
how do you suggest that he should be able to get rid of
him P — I should not suggest that he should 1m able to
get rid of him at all.

23039. He cannot get rid of him ? — The manager
could not.

23040. How can he be got rid of P — Unless he gave
proof that he was.

23041. Who must the manager give proof to ? — Make
him a Government official.

23042. Supposing he is not a Grovemment official, but
appointed by the manager, and the manager wants to
get rid of hun, you say he must prove that he is an un-
suitable man P — Yes.

23043. Who is he to prove it to 7—1 do not think it
would be difficult to have some Court of Arbitration to
take it to.

23044. Would you establish a new court, or is there^
any court in existence 7 — I do not think there is any.^

23045. You want a new Court of Arbitration to try
whether a fireman was fit for his work before he could
be discharged 7 — Nothing elaborate ; something that
the manager would be able to say, *' Here is an incom-
petent feUow."

23046. I want to know rather more about it. Who
would, in your view, appoint the arbitrator ; would they
each appoint a man, the manager and the fireman, and
the two appoint an umpire 7— How would it be for the
chief inspector along with one or two others P

23047. Have you not thought this question out at all y
as to how you would carry out your scheme ? — ^I have ^K/^
not given it a great deal of thought. It looks to me as

if it could be quite easily done.

23048. If you pi*event the manager getting rid of a
fireman that he considers incompetent, would you relieve
the manager from the responsibility of any accident
which happened in consequence of that incompetency ? —
I would not prevent the manager altogether, but he
should be able to prove something against the fireman
before getting rid of him.

23049. Supposing there is a difference of opinion
between the fireman and the manager, and in the
interval before the time the Court of Arbitration deci-
ding that this man is to go away an accident
happens in consequence of this man*s incompetency or
negHgence, would you relieve the manaeer from the
oonsequence of that accident P — You would nave to relieve
him if you took away the power.

23050. Do you think it would conduce to safety to
relieve the manager from the responsibility of the safety
of the pit ? — I do not understand the question.

23051. Your scheme would necessarily relieve the
manager from responsibilitjr because you prevent him
having control over his officials. You recognise also that
it would be reasonable in that caseP — ^I did not say
altogether that the manager should be relieved from the
full responsibility.

23052. If you prevent the manager appointing his own

people and discharging them and appointing others ?

— I mean, indiscriminately.

23053. If you say he is not entitled to do that, is it not
right that you should relieve him from the consequences
of these people's mistakes P — Yes.

23054. Do you think that it would be conducive to safety
that you should relieve the responsible manager from
the consequences of a violation of the law by a man he
appointed, but whom he could not discharge, who was
proved to be incompetent P — I really do not follow you.

23055. Would that be conducive to safety, to make
that alteration P — I do not follow you. I do not know
what you want to be at.

28056. Never mind what I want to be at. Will you
answer my question. You will see what we want to be
at after we get it down. At the present time the
manager of a mine is responsible P — Yes.

23057. If he appoints an incompetent person he is
responsible ? — Yes.

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If anything happens to him who is
-It is a different thing making an


23058. If you prevent him getting rid of on incom-
petent person you ou^t not still to hold him respon-
sible. That is true P— Yes.

23059. Now I ask you if you consider such a change
would be conducive to safety by relieving the manager
from the responsibility put on mm by the Act P — I thmk
it would.

23060. I did not follow about no person bein^ allowed
to work alone. The fireman is alone in working Ids
rounds ? — Yes.

23061. Would you have someone going with him p —

23062. Why not P
to look after himP-
inspection alone.

23063. Supposing anything happened to the fireman,
there is nobody to assist him P — ^That is true.

23064. Would you have two men P— No.

23065. What class of labour is it you would not allow
to work alone ? — ^I would not allow a face man to work

23066. Is it usual for a face man to work alone P — Yes.

23067. Has not he a drawer?— The drawer is
seldom there.

23068. Ke is with him except when taking the coal
to the shunt P — That occupies most part of the day.

23069. If a man was getting coal, a man and his
drawer, would you require another man in the place on
the chance of something happening to the collier, and
also a man with the drawer going to the shunt P — I would
have a man at the face, but not a man with the drawer.

23070. An accident might happen to him P — There are
many drawers on the way.

23071. Are there not many men in the faceP —
Working stoop and room they are sometimes a consider-
able distance off.

23072. How far away would you have the man looking
after the collier at the face P — 1 think they ought to be
working double at the coal face.

23073. Is that a new system altogether P — No.

23074. There should be no working at the coal face
unless there were two sets of men P — 'Two individual men,
I mean.

23075. There are two men, the collier and the drawer.
You think that a working man should not be alone at
the face ? — I do.

23076. If it is one man's job do you suggest that there
should be two men there P — No, one to work alongside
with him.

23077. With regard to the explosives, you say you
think the men ought to have a voice in the explosives
used P — Prior to the introduction of new explosives.

23078. Are you speaking now of high explosives ? —

23079. You know that there is an Explosives Order in
which those which ai*e considered to be safe after very
careful tosts are put down in the list P — Yes.

23080. Some are more expensive than others P — Yes.

23081. There are different opinions as to whether
one is better than another in the way it does its work P —

23082. If the explosive is not safe it is not put on that
HstP— No.

23083. If it is safe then it is put on the list, after being
tested by some exceptionally able men P — Yea.

23084. Why should not a coalowner and employer
have the right to select any of those explosives which
he thinks fit, after being specified as safe P — There is no
reason that he should not, but an indication ought to
be given to the men or their representatives, so that
they also might have a voice. As practical men they
know the explosive that blaste a certain seam better
than others.

23085. Do you propose that they should be entitled
to prohibit any explosive being used P — No, I do not.

23086. What is the object of intimating to the repre-
sentatives of the men the explosive you intend to use if

they are not to have an opportunity P — You mean

individual explosive P

23087. Yes P — ^I think in some cases a less expensive
explosive might be used.

Mr. James

Where the collier has to pay for his explosive
you want the cheapest explosive P — No.

23089. You say a less expensive explosive P — A more ^3 June 1907
suitable explosive for the seam worked at.

23090. Did you not say a less expensive P — ^It might
be, and more suitable also.

23091. As to the suitability of the explosive, is not
that a Question for the management? It must be a
safe explosive if on the permitted list. Why should
not the manager have sole discretion as to which
of these explosives he would useP — Because men
working with explosives sometimes know far better
than a manager wnat is suitable for a seam.

23092. With reference to the explosive, the seam may
be worked better with it, and you may get more round
coal. There are various grounds upon which a manager
might select one explosive. Why should not he have
that right P — Because he does not know as well as the

23093. Should he not have an explosive the men did
not approve ? — I think there should be a conference.

23094. Supposing the manager is entitled to have the
explosive, what is the use of discussing it with the men P
You do not say that he should not be entitled to use the
explosive except with the sanction of the men P — No.

23095. If he is entitled to use it whether the men like
it or not, what is the use of discussing it with the men
whether he shall use it or not P — I am thinking about
the ei plosives the men use themselves in getting coal.

23096. Do you want them to select their own P — No,
but I want them to be able to Lave a voice before the
introduction of any new explosive.

23097. What voice do you mean ? It is one thing to
say a new explosive shall not be introduced without the
sanction of the men P — Yes.

23098. You do not go so far as that P If the manager
is to have the responsibility of selecting them, what use
is it discussing it with the men P — If the manager is to
have the responsibility.

23099. He cannot escape the responsibility, and you
would not prevent him doing it. It leaves to him the
right to introduce the explosive P — Yes, but the men
might be able to point out that it would be better for
him and them all.

23100. They can now P — It is not compulsory in the

23101. Would you make it compulsory? — That at
least a conference should be held.

23102. What is the use of a conference ; the owner is
responsible, and he has a number of explosives certified
as being safe. You do not say he should not be entitled
to select one without the sanction of the men, but that
before he selecte it he ought to consult the men. Why P
— To arrive at the best explosive suitable for the mine
being worked.

28103. The manager of the mine considers that he is
competent to do that himself ? — But he is not always.

23104. Is it not usual for the men to take drinking
water down with them P — It is very common.

23105. Do you want to stop that P — No, but I want to
provide a little water for men who cannot get it otherwise.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 33 of 177)