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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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by Act of Parliament that it is the duty of the overman to
measure the air.

25070. Only measure the air ? — Yes, and be responsible
for the proper airing of the mine.

25071. That is, to regulate the ventilation T — Yes.

25072. If, by Act of Parliament, you put it on the over-
man, are you going to relieve the manager from responsi-
bility ? — ^They must take the responsibility jointly.



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25073. At the present time they have got it jointly. The
certificated manager is primarily responsible. If he
appoints a competent person and that competent person
does not do it, they may both bo responsible ? Do you
want to alter that state of things ? — ^We want to say that
it is the duty of the overman to do it.

25074. I do not see how you can say that without
lessening the responsibility of the manager.

{Mr. Enoch Edward i.) He says, I want to suggest to
this Commission some way by which it shall be done.

(3/r. RcUcliffe EUis.) What is not done ?

{Mr, Enoch Edvards,) The measuring of the air.

25076. {Mr. RatcUffe Ellis.) You say it is not measured
once a month T — ^We have no record — it may have been.

26076. At the colliery you worked in before you ceased
work, was there no measurement of the air taken at least
once a month ? — We did not see a record.

25077. What colliery did you work at T — Ashington.

25078. In the Special Rules with regard to the duties
of an overman it says : " He shall examina daily the report
books kept in the mine and see that the reports are properly
recorded, and shall report the results of his observations
each day to the manager or under-manager.'* This in-
spection of the air has to be reported. Do you not know^
when an inspector visits a mine, the first thing he looks at'
is the report book ? — I do not know that. He so seldom
<!omee.

25079. Do you say seriously that at the colliery where
you are engaged this Rule was not complied with, that the
air was not measured at least once a month ? — ^I would not
say that, but I have sufficient reason for saying that these
reports are not properly recorded.

25080. What is your reason ? — I have seen the deputies
reports frequently.

25081. Have you seen the report book in which this
«hould be reported 7 — ^No, but I have seen the deputy's
report book.

t?6082. Then I think you should hardly make a charge
like that. Have you ever seen the deputy's book in which
the air was not properly recorded ?— That air is not
recorded.

25083. The measurement of the air ? — ^It is not recorded
in the deputy's bock,

25084. What book is it recorded in 7 — In a book kept
on purpose for that business in the colliery office.

25086. How do you know that 7 — According to the Act.

25086. Not that you have seen it 7— No.

25087. The Act requires that it is to be recorded 7
—Yes.

25088. Have you any reason to say that it has not been
recorded 7 — ^I am not saying it has not been recorded.
I am only referring to the reports of the deputies.

25089. What reports have you seen that give you reason
to believe that the report as to the measurement of air
is not complete 7 — I have seen " In good order " where
during the day the men have had to come out for want
of air. I have seen the deputy's book saying it is all in
good order.

25090. Do you think that all the books about the colliery
are kept in that way 7 That is the only reason you have
for saying that 7 — ^It is, really.

25091-2. What is the lamp that was used at your
colliery — the one you worked at last 7 — ^There was a new
introduction. I do not know the name of it; probably
you will be aware which one it is ; it has a double burner.
The lamps I have been accustomed to — ^I have not seen
any until just now — only had a single burner, and that bums
with paraffin oiL

25093. It was supposed to be an improvement on the
other, and would detect gas much sooner 7 — It detects
gas quicker.

25094. If there was such a state of things as you suggest
in a mine, and the air was so foul that although the lamp
burned it injured the men's health, would you consider
that sufficient compliance with General Rule 1, as to
ventilation 7 — I would not.

25095. Have you known of a case of that sort 7— As
far as the ventilation in concerned you may have an
adequate amount of ventilation one day, and according to
atmospheric pressure the next day it may be just as bad.



25096. Have you known a case in which men worked in
an atmosphere where they ought not to work 7 — ^Yes,
scores of cases.

25097. Have you ever worked in it yourself 7 — ^Yes.

25098. Did you complain either to the Mines Inspector
or the management as to the condition of things 7 — ^I
woidd not say once, but scores of times. We had a case
last month.

25099. Have you ever complained to the Mines Inspector
about it 7 — No.

25100. Why 7— Because the next day I would get notice,
and I would have to go somewhere else and get work.

25101. You know that the Mines Inspectors receive
anonymous complaints 7 — But the management find it
out in some way or other. I knew one trade unionist
who made application for the Government Inspector to
come to our colliery, and he never got another day's work
after.

25102. You have never made any complaint yourself 7
—No.

25103. As to the ambulance, everybody wishes that it
should be kept at some place where it could be most
conveniently got at. It is only a question of keeping '
safely. Do you think the chest of the deputy would
the best place to keep it 7 — Yes.

25104. What is kept in the chest 7 — ^The implements for
the work of the deputy, but if one chest was not big enough
they could have two.

25105. It is rather the locality for it to be kept. It \/
should be kept at the most convenient place to get at it 7 ^



Mr. Joseph
English.

27 June 1907



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25106. Where is it kept now, on the surface 7 — ^Yes.

25107. It is important that when wanted it should be
in proper order 7 — Yes.

25108. If a place can be suggested down the mine where
it can be kept safely, that would be an advantage 7 — ^Yes,
and especially with regard to bandages and splints.

25109. Those want keeping in good order 7 — ^Yes.

26110. As to the first-class ambulance certificate for
deputies, have the deputies in your district generally got
second-class certificates 7 — Some of them. Some pay
attention to that, and others do not.

25111. Do you suggest that they should all have a
certificate of some kind 7 — ^Yes.

25112. A certificate of competency for their work 7 —
Of course it is rarely necessary to have a certificate of
competency, but more so with regard to ambulance.

25113. With reference to inspection work and the work
which the deputy has to do for safety to prevent these
.accidents 7 — ^Yes.



25114. Would a second-class certificate meet your view 7
— Yes, I think so.

25115. In addition to that, you think that he should
have an ambulance certificate. Is there plenty of oppor-
tunity in your district to be taught ambulance work 7 — Yes.

25116. There is no difficulty in getting instruction in
order to get a certificate 7 — ^No, we have these classes all
over the district.

25117. I did not understand what you want with refer-
ence to Rule 39. The hewer at the present time must
learn the work of getting coal before he can work alone at
the face 7 — ^Yes.

25118. What is the work of the brusher in your district 7
— The brusher shoots the canch — ^what we call the canch ;
I do not know what you call it.

25119. The entrance to the working face, if it is not high
enough, he makes it high enough 7 — Yes, and he is
responsible for timbering the sides.

25120. You say that a man should not be employed in
that work unless he has had experience for how long 7 —
Two years, the same as the hewer.

25121. Employed in that work alone 7— Yes.

25122. Supposing a man has been employed as a hewer,
would you allow £m to work as a biusher 7 — ^We make
provision — ^if he has been two years in and about the face

25123. I will take a man who has to work in the road-
ways ; if he has worked in the face would you allow him
to work in the roadways 7 — Yes.

25124. If he has worked in the roadways would you
allow him to work in the face, timbering ?— In a case of



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MINUTES OP EVIDENCE :



Mr. Joseph
English.

27Junri907



that description you could not prevent him being engaged,
if at the same class of work two years.

25125. In the mine ?— Yes,

25126. Do you think that this might lessen the available
labour in mines ? — No, I do not think so.

25127. You think that there are plenty of people suffi-
ciently equipped for this purpose who have had this
experience ? — There is plenty of work in the mine : if a
stranger comes to commence work he could be set with an
experienced man for the time it would take to get proper
experience.

25128. You suggest this on the ground of safety ? — Yes.

25129. If it turns out, when we come to examine the
statistics, that there is not any evidence of accidents from
this condition of things, that might alter your view T—
Yes, if you could prove that. I am speaking from practical
experience, and I do not know what statistics say on this
pomt.

25130. It is because you think it would be safer if that
method were adopted ? — Yes.

25131. As to Rule 38, why do you suggest that the
employer should send a man round with the Inspectors T
— Of course you have an idea when you are in a coal mine
yourself. I may be working in one district this three
months, and in aJl probability the next three months I may
be appointed by a fellow workman tx) be an inspector.
It is optional whether the management have one colliery
official to go round with me as an inspector. What use
would I be going into a part of the pit where I had no idea
as to the roads in and out ?

25132. This is an inspection for your satisfaction ? — Yes.

25133. You would go where you thought fit. If you
had any intimation from any of the men that some par-
ticular place wanted looking at, you would look at it Why
should the employer be bound to send someone to show
you round the pit ? — Because I would be no use by myself.
I would not know the way.

26134. How do you manage now ? — The manager sends
an official continually.

25135. You want to make it compulsory that he shall ?
—Yes.

25136. Have you ever had cases where he refused to
give facilities ? — ^No.

25137. This inspection in your county is pretty general 7
— ^Yes.

25138. You have never had a case in which you have had
any difficulty ? — We want to make protection should it
ever occur. What use would the Government Inspector
be going to a mine if there was not someone to take him
round ?

25130. With regard to coal cutting machines, are you
in favour of introducing machinery into mines ? — I am,
certainly.

25140. You do approve it ? — I am a great advocate of it.

25141. This stoppage would, of course, lessen the work
the machine would do in a certain time ? — Yes, to the tune
of two minutes in every quarter of an hour.

25142. Not more than that ?— No.

25143. Have you seen the Electricity Rules which have
been established ? — I do not think there are any, are there ?

- 25144. Yes, there are a large number of them. — Are
they drawn up by the owners ?

25145. No, by the Government. You have not seen
them ? — ^No.

25146. Have you worked after a machine yourself T — ^No.

25147. Have you seen one at work ? — Yes.
26148. There is a great noise 7 — Yes.

25149. You think that the noise is so great that you
cannot hear the indications which would give you notice
that the roof was getting a bit uncertain 7 — Yes, that is
evident.

25150. You think a stoppage for a few minutes during the
course of the hour would be safer for that purpose 7 — Yes.
One man has to timber before the machine, and he goes on
before the machine, and the machine follows him up. That
man cannot hear anything.

25151. (Mr. SmiUie,) Is he not taking out timber 7 —
There is a man taking out and putting in«

26152. {Mr. RatcUffe EUis,) I was under the impression
that there was a rule to that effect now 7 — There is none
for machinery at alL



25153. I know it was discussed, and I was under the
impression that there was a rule of that sort. With
reference to sparking, if the motor is enclosed does it spark
then 7 — The one I saw was at Beckworth. I do not know
whether it was the Yankee. I forget the name, but I could
almost have Ughted my pipe by the sparks coming from
that.

25154. We quite agree, in a fiery mine that would not be
safe. You aie speaking of use in a fiery mine where there
is any danger of gas. You do not know whether they have
overcome that difficulty by enclosing the motor 7 — ^I dt>
not know.

25155. You think the sparking could be prevented 7 —
Yes ; it was just what I saw at the particular time.

25156. With regard to the engine-winders being
examined, have you spoken to any engine-winders about
this 7 — To any men 7

25157. Yes.— No.

25158. What do they think about this 7 - ^ they were
strong men they would think nothing about it, and if they
were weak men they ought not to be there.

25159. There are people who do not like a medical
examination. Even a strong man might not like a
medical examination 7 — If in a responsible position like
that they ought to be subjected to one.

25160. What do you examine for 7 — A weak heart.

25161. Anvthing else 7—1 do not know. Anything that
might make him incapable of performing his duties. There
are various diseases that a man might have which would
make him incapable.

25162. Would you make it compulsory on the mines
inspector to see that the man was examined every six
months 7— Yes.

25163. What would you prescribe as to the conditions
under which he should cease to be employed 7 — I would
place the responsibility on someone.

25164. You would have to give the doctor some in-
structions, because it would be decided on the doctor's
certificate whether the man was continued or discharged 7
"""xes.

{Mr, Wm. Abrdham.) That is a question of detail.

25165. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) Yes, it is a very important
detail, I think. Would you say upon a doctor's certificate
that this man's services should be discontinued or con-
tinued 7 — That would be the only guide we could get.

25166. What doctor do you suggest should examine the
man 7 — Some official. That would be a provision for you
to make.

25167. You merely suggest examining him medically
once in six months 7 — ^Yes.

25168. {Mr. SmiUie.) Would you give him the right of
appeal to another medical man 7 — Yes. Why should he
not undergo an examination the same as anybody else 7

25169. Mr. Ellis's point is this, and it is an important
question to enginemen. He agrees with you that if he is
in such a weak state he should not be there, but if he is
examined by someone, would you give him the right to
appeal to someone else 7 — ^Yes, we could not prevent him.

25170. (Mr. RatcUffe EUis.) I wondered if you had talked
it over with the enginemen before making the suggestion 7
— ^No, we have not.

25171. Now as to the haulage roads, there is no danger
in walking along when the traffic is not going along the
road 7 — ^None.

^172. Except to the men who may be working in the
road 7 — ^There is no danger there if the trams are not
going.

25173. Supposing there are cases where it might be
awkwai'd to increase the width of the road, would it meet
your views if there was no travelling allowed whilst the
machinery was in motion 7 — It would meet our views pro
viding it could be practicable for the management, but 1
think it would be impracticable.

25174. What are the widths of the roads in your coUieiy
generally — I mean these haulage roads 7 — ^Nine feet is
general

25176. There is room enough in nine feet 7 — Scarcely.
There is from nine to ten feet.

25176. Do you think that there should be sufficient
room on one side for passing where men have to go along
the haulage roads 7 — Yes.



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126177. You recognise that in an old colliery it might be
difficult to find separate travelling roads ?— It would be a
bit expensive.

26178. With regard to timbering, you would suggest
that there should be one uniform (Stance throughout the
whole kingdom, I understand ?— Yes, throughout the whole
coalfield.

26179. That is without regard to the condition of the
roof, or anything, that timl^r should not be more than
four feet from the face anywhere ? — ^Yes.

26180. I suppose that it might be so near the face as to
make it inconvenient to work? — Four feet is not incon-
venient.

26181. It might be ?— Yes, if the stone were of such a
nature that it would make it inconvenient. Sometimes
you have to work that timber right up against the face ; it
depends upon the nature of the stone.

26182. In the same way as there is a maximum distance
about spragging, you would make a maximum distance for
props from the face. You say they should be four feet ? —
Yes.

26183. Do you think that the fact of prescribing that as
a hard-and-fast rule would make men think that was all
that had to be done, and lessen their feeling of responsi-
bility to people about them, to see if any more wanted to
be done ? — ^No, that would not remove the responsibility.

26184. It would not have that effect ?— No.

26186. (Mr. Enoch Edtoards,) With regard to this
question of lamps. The lamps you have you can see well
with, and it is considered to be a good lamp for detecting
gas, but you may work in poisonous fumes and your lamp
bums all right ? — ^That is so.

26186. Is that not rather an indication that the ventila-
tion is bad ? — ^If there is a sudden change of the ther-
mometer the foul air comes from the goaf. It may be all
right in the morning, but it renders that place obnoxious,
and men can work by these lamps, whereas they could not
work with the older kind.

26187. Do you think the present law ia being carried out,
that there should be always sufficient ventilation ? — There
is not sufficient ventilation in the mines at aU times.

26188. If the present law was carried out you would get
rid of that difficulty ? — ^Yes, if the places were properly
aired with sufficient air in the different districts.

26189. Are these Igassy seams you refer to T — ^It is not
inflammable gas, but it is of a gassy nature ; it is more the
stythe which comes off the goaf — ^foul air. It is poisonous.

26190. If it was highly inflammable gas there would be
an obligation on the colliery people to clear it out ? — Or
otherwise prevent the men going in.

26191. You could not work at ail ?— No.

26192. Do you suggest that they are lax with regard to
the ventilation ?-^If they had more gas to attend to the
collieries would be better ventilated. We had a case at one
of our collieries where a man was almost suffocated from
foul ail, and yet gas could not be detected.

26193. Your mines are not alone in that respect ; where
there is no fear of an explosion there is a tendency to neglect
ventilation T — We have nothing to contend with in
Northumberland so far as inflammable gas is concerned.
Very few of our pits are subject to that. We have more to
contend with in foul air or stythe.

26194. They are not sufficiently ventilated ? — ^No.

26196. It is the business of deputies to do this timber-
ing T — According to the Act, it is the duty of the man, but
of course this is also a suggestion that the deputy should be
responsible in his presence, and in the absence of the
deputy the workman to be responsible.

26196. Your customs are similar to Durham in reference
to timbering 7 — ^I do not know the system in Durham.

26197. The deputy is not known in any coal mine in the
kingdom except Durham and Northumberland. We wero
told yesterday that his duties were to see to the timbering
of the place T — Previous to the 1887 Act coming into
operation it was the duty of the deputy, and he always used
to attend to the timbering, but since that Act came into
operation he throws it on the workman.

26198. When you suggest that there should be a fixed
distance for timbering of four feet, do you do that with the
knowledge that the men would have to set it ? — In the
absence

26199. Never mind the absence ?— Yes.



26200. Is that a proposition to which your men assent-
that they should be forced to put up timber for four feet ?
— No, we simply make that suggestion.

26201. Is the suggestion you are making to apply to
Northumberland omy ? — ^I should say that it should apply
to the whole of the coalfield.

26202. The whole of the coalfieli of Northumberland ?
— Where this Act extends to.

26203. Have you had any experience of any other
measures than those of Northumberland ? — ^I have not
worked in other mines except Northumberland.

26204. There are peculiar ways in many counties. You
have had no other experience ? — ^I have not worked in
other mines except in Northumberland.

26206. You think in Northumberland that there will be
no difficulty in having a fixed definite limit ; whether the
roof is bad or not it should be set four feet ? — ^There are
Special Rules for Durham and Northumberland.

26203. With regard to this timbering rule, you suggest
that timbering should be set whether required from the
nature of the roof or otherwise : so far as you can see it
should be set compulsorily every four feet ? — Yes, and to be
uniform throughout the whole of the coalfield.

26207. You make that suggestion from your knowledge
of Northumberland only ? — That is so.

25208. You do not know how that would affect other
parts ? — No, qjHf^istricts suggest what would best suit
them, I suppose.

26209. When asked about travelling ways you suggested
that there should be a travelling way along the main roads ?
— I am acting as compensation agent in Northumberland
and part of my duty is to attend the inquests and ascertain
the causes of the accidents. At one particular colliery
there was a man working and there was no travelling way
and no width between the ways. This man was getting
into a refuge hole when a set caught him and knocked him
down ; he was a yard or two off the refuge, and had he got
in he would have been all right, but there was no means
whatever of saving him.

25210. When the previous Act was framed the pretty
general consensus of opinion was that there should be some
refuge place where a man could fly in case of danger. Do I
understand vou to suggest now that instead of manholes
there should be a permanent width of way for a man to
travel in and out ? — Independent of the refuge holes. I
think the refuge holes should be 10 or 12 yards apart.
They could be continued.

26211. Would that bs necessary if you had a permanent
way ? — I am afraid it would be, because they have to be at
least six feet in from the way — that is the refuge holes.
They must be six feet dear, and if we had a traveUing way
three feet wide it would not be sufficient in case of a set
getting off the rails.

26212. It would not afford the same security. If a man
is too near the run-away tram there would be not the same
protection ? — There would not, unless he had a refuge hole.

25213. If you make your main roads sufficiently wide in
the first instance you could make a side road ? — Yes. It
takes six feet for the tubs to pass each other and we drive
them niae feet to ten feet, and there are three feet available
nicely for a travelling way.

25214. What do you do with that three feet now ? —
They just stow it up with anything.

25216. With rubbish ?— Yes.

25216. You think if the rubbish was kept clear you
would be able to have a roadway ? — Yes, that could be
nicely made from the shaft to the face.

26217. Where you have haulage by machinery in these
lanes or otherwise, are men allowed to travel the road
while the traffic is in motion ? — In some cases they are : in
som*3 cases they re not. In most cases they are.

252 1>). Have you difficulty where men are forbidden to
travel them from their persisting ? — No, if they are for-
bidden thsy do not travel along them.

25219. When you were dealing with the question of the
unskilled man, Mr. £llis put to you a question as to whether



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