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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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or a pony, he can be going with one tub or four or five tubs.
Do you think it would be wise or necessary to have sufficient
room at the side of the road for the pony driver or the man
to got to the side ? — ^You could not do that in bye-side of
the flat. We have one big pit employing 400 men where
they have single trams. We have a few, not very many.

25324. Did you not tell Mr. Edwards that you drove
your places 9 to 10 feet wide ? — Yes, the main intakes.

25325. Are your ordinary gate-ends and longwall work-
lAgs driven 9 to 10 feet wide ?— Yes, and as soon as they
get to work they are broken, and they sometimes come
in at the sides until only 5 feet.

25326. That is coming in ?— Yes.'!

25327. What width are the buildings put in^in the
ordinary roads ? — ^The packs, do you mean ?

25328. Yes 7 — About four feet. That is in the gateways.

25329. They are built 4 feet wide ?— Yes.

25330. There is practically only room for the single
road, and not room for passing ? — ^If the boy gets off he
can scarcely get by the tub to put it on.

25331. Is that desirable T — ^No, if you could avoid it.

25332. Could you not be building the packs wider 7 —
If you did build them wider the weight of the strata comes
on, and the bottom heaves, they come in in two or three
days, and you would have to increase the width.

25333. If they were 9 feet wide and the weight came
on the packs they would come in a certain distance 7 — Yes.

25334 Supposing they came in 3 feet, they would
still leave it 6 feet wide 7 — Yes.

25335. If there were 4 feet to begin with, and they
come in 3 feet, you do not leave more than 1 foot 7
— ^They could not come in that much.

25330. You really pack them 4 feet now 7 — Yes.

25337. How far do the packs couio in 7 — The packs in
the longwall sometimes do not come in very far, but it is
the broken pillars in the higher seams.

25338. We are dealing with the longwall now. What
width do you pack them 7 — ^Four feet.



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25339. They do not come in very much ?— No.

25340. If you packed them 4 feet and they did not
come in much, you would have room then T — Yee ; it would
increase the amount of stone-work considerably.

25341. We are not concerned at the present time so
much with that as with the safety of the men. Has there
been any accident from these roads being so narrow that
a person could not pass by the side of a tram ? — ^I am not
aware of accidents from that. I have known an accident
occur from the place not being sufficiently high where the
timber has got broken down and a boy has got his head
almost taken off.

25342. Are your workings fairly flat ? — ^Yes.
26343. There is not much of a gradient ? — No.

25344. You could conceive where, if there was a steep
gradient of 1 in 2^ or 3, or even 4, that there might he
considerable danger of a full tub coming down and a person
not having room to get off ? — I can see the danger, but I
do not tlunk that has frequently occurred with us. It
would be a difficult thing to keep the working place that
width.

25345. You do not think it would be necessary to legislate
for that ?— No.

25346. You were asked by Mr. Ellis with regard to trailers
or devils on the back of the last tram of a train of tubs
going up a heading. Did you say that was not necessary 7
—No.

25347. You do think it is very necessary that there may
be something of that kind ? — ^I think it is really necessary.

25348. You have runaway points at the present time on
your haulage roads ? — Switches.

25349. So that if the rope breaks, or a coupling, or a
draw-bar, they will be switched off and not run down ? —
They are mostly for sets, and to make provision for the
rope breaking. These switches switch them off the rail.
We also have '* cows " at the back of the tubs.

25350. They have a trailer on the back of the tram T
—Yes.

25351. It has been suggested that sometimes a run-
away takes place where a train of trams has to go down
lower, down below the dook. In that case you could not
have a cow or trailer on, because it is the wrong end first 7
—Yes.

25352. It has been suggested that a continuous chain
from the end tub should go over the top or end tubs, so
that if a coupling or draw-bar broke it would prevent part
of the train running away. If it was proved that that
was effective in preventing a runaway, do you think it
would be wise to make it compulsory by law to have that 7
— Providing that such an apparatus could be invented.

25353. Supposing we teU you that it is invented, and in
use at many collieries, and has been found of great service,
what would you say ? You can notice at once as a practical
man that there is very little expense or time in it. It would
not be inconvenient to do a thing of that kind 7 — No.

25354. Do you think it would be wise to do that as a
precaution against runaway trams 7 — Of course, because
you could not use too much precaution against runaway



trams ; it is a very dangerous thing. Mr. Strakor reminds
me that there was a man killed Last week because there
was not one.

25355. Have you had any accidents in Northumberland,
so far as vour knowledge goes, in which a person working
alone, either at night time or at some distant part of the
mine, has been killed and it has been some hours before
he was disco vsred 7 — We had a man working in the waste.
He did not get killed, but he tried to extricate himself, and
the more he tried the more the stone came in, and he gave
up. We have them frequently working by themselves.

25356. Would it not be wise to provide that a person
should not be allowed to work alone 7 — That is the reason
why we suggest the two years.

25357. You suggest two vears at the coal face. At the
present time a man might be employed in repairing work
on the roads alone 7 — By the face is understood inside
the flat. I do not know what you call it in Scotland.

25358. We call it tiie lye. There have been accidents to
persons who were repairing on the main haulage roads,
sometimes working all alone ? — Yes, that has occurred, but
I do no see that you could make it compulsory for two
men to be always working together.

25359. You favour the idea that wherever possible a
person .should not be employed alone 7 — Yes.

25360. Eithtr at coal -getting or any other dangerous
work 7 — That is our idea.

25361. Have you any drawing of timber in your board
system at t^e pillars 7 — Yes, we have a lot of drawing.

25362. Who draws the timber 7 — A special man ap-
pointed for the purpose.

25363. Deputies, or special men 7 — Special drawers.

25364. Who draws the timber in the longwall 7—
Speci d drawers set down for tha: purpose.

25365. Xot the deputies 7— No.

25366. Are you ure of that 7- Yes

25367. Supposing a person speaking on behalf of the
deputies of Northumberland told us different yesterday,
what would you say 7 — That may occur at their particular
collieries.

25368. {Mr, F, L. Davia.) You said that these stretchers
and bandages and other things should be kept in the
deputy's chest 7 — Yes.

25369. Where is that generally in your pit — ^at the
bottom of the pit 7 — Close to the working face.

25370. How near to the working face 7 — G^merally about
200 yards off.

25371. On an average about 200 yirds 7— Yes.

25372. Does he keep that chest in a little room 7 — Yes.

25373. His room, I suppose it is 7— Yes.

25374. {Mr. SmiUie.) It would be safe from danger of
falls 7— Yes.

25375. (Mr, F, L, Davis. He keeps his books there,
too 7— Yes, his tools.

25376. And any odds and ends 7 — It is cut out of the
rock. He has his seat and keeps his clothes there as well.
It is practically his office.



Mr. Joseph
English.

27 June 1907



Mr. John Rebs Powbll, called and examined.



Statbmsnt of Witness.

25377. (1) I am of opinion that the Mines Act should
be rigidly enforced, i.e. (1) A plentiful supply of timber
be sent into the workings to the parts of the mine
stipulated in General Rule 22, and of a suitable cha-
racter. I would advise all caps, or lids, for upright
posts, be of good length and thickness and be prepared
on the surface, and sent into the mine in sufficient quan-
tities for all use. I would emphasise the need for aU
timber to be set in a proper manner, leaning at the
right angle, and of sufficient nold in the floor, i.e., stamp-
ing, all sprags used in the coal face to be set properly
at the required distances, with a tapered wedge of wood
against the coal at the end of the sprag nearest the coal
face, and would recommend that where places require
to be made higher on underground roads and timber has
to be taken out, it be done by means of a timber-drawing
appliance and the necessary bars for the purpose.
Should a fall occur, workmen and officials should see



that the cavity or holes are covered up before any traffic '^*'- •'^'"^
or passage of persons were allowed, and in every case the -Kc^* Powell.
officials should see all timber on the roadways is properly
cut and s-.^t.

(2) If the hours and duties of the Colliery Examiners
were reduced in number, then greater opportunities
would be presented for enforcing the rules framed for
the miner'.^ safety, Accidents arise now from falls of
roof and sides owing to postp nement on the part of
the miner of these acts necessary for safeguarding his
own life. Better suj)ervision — possible only with Q
reduced duties and/houls — would make accidents lesa
possible. V -.-^ '

(3) With regard to shot-firing, I would point out that
when done during shifts, it is done at a time when by
the traffic of men and horses most dust is raised in the
roadways. As this is the finest dust, and carried by the
air, it is also the most dangerous.



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MINUTES OF EVIDENCE^



Mr. John W Afl specified in the Monmouthshire and Forest

Reea Powell. ©^ Dean Code, Special Rule 11, and according ro

General Rule 4, the examination before commencement

27 June 1907 of each shift ; that in all cases the examination, or in-

spection, of the workings should be made with a locked

eafety lamp, and in every case except where gas has not
been found within the preceding twelve months, by a
lamp more sensitive to the presence of fire-damp than
the Davy, as well as the ordinary lamp now in use, so
that all presence of gas or cap might be noted. I think
this rule should be altered thus : — that instead of one
examination before each shift, and the examination made
during the shift as now, there hould bo an examination
before the commencement of the shift as now, and at
least one other during a shift of eight hours, and that

* in collieries where there are two shifts working night and

day, the examiner be relieved at the end of his eight
hours and other examinations made by the relieving
examiner, and that a true record of all examinations be
entered in the report book, and by so doing there would
be recorded at least six examinations in the 24 hours.
And whenever no one is in the mine or district, he should
be accompanied by someone during his examination.

(6) I think also that the competent person mentioned
in General Rule 4 and Special Rule 11 should have
shown his competency by his practical experience and
by examination, and I would suggest an examination
instituted for all colliery examiners, and in each new
appointment that practical men with such certificates
should have the preference for such appointments.

(6) Whenever Special Rules need amendirg, or
instituting, that there be representatives of all classes
engaged in the mine on such board, especially examiners,
as they are the por.-;ons who are employed to see tliat
the Act is applied in very many instances. They could
pos-ibly offer many useful suggestions in the formation
of nil- s.

(7) The workmen should be given a copy of the Rules
and should be encouraged to ascertain what is con-
tained in the book presented to them, and whenever a
new copy is required the same should be had on applica-
tion to the colliery officials or management, and new
copies should be given out every year to all who require
them, and prizes should be offered to workmen, or
certificates for the efficiency in the knowledge of the
Act or Special Rules.

(8) It should also be the aim of all officials to see that
the Act is properly carried out, and they should fre-
quently inform the men under their charge of the require-
ments of the Act ; and every workman with a boy under
his charge should assist him in acquiring a full knowledge
of all appertaining to him to good discipline in mines.

(9) There shouM, as far as possible, be a mutual under-
standing between the officials and workmen, and every
effort made to respect those in charge, and it should be
the duty of each man to see that each boy under his care
is not allowed to remain about the main roads at the
commencement of the shift, and each person, unless on
business, should at once proceed to his working-place
beyond the zone of aU traffic.

( 10) There should be special facilities in every colliery
for rescue work, and there should be men chosen in every
colliery to learn all new methods of applying rescue

* apparatus. There should be a central station in each

mining district where this knowledge might be obtained,
and at every colliery sufficient rescue apparatus kept for
any purpose that may arise.

(11) In every colliery ambulance work should be en-
couraged, and instead of it being stated in General Rule
34 that ambulance or stretchers, with sphnts and
bandages, shall be kept at the mine in ( ase of accidents,
it should state that they be kept in each district, and
nuch other things as ma / be necessary for use in case of
accidents, and that the same should be kept in a box
for the purpose, and the names of all ambulance men
should be poste J up at the pit head or other entrance
to mines in a conspicuous place, also the districts in
which they are engaged, so that in case of injury to any
person they may be sent for without undue delay.

25378. {Mr. RatcUffe Ellis.) You are a colliery examiner
of Vivian Colliery, Abertillery, and are General Secretary
of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Colliery Examiners'
Association ? — Yes.

25379. What exactly is the nature of the Association ? —
It is an association of underground examiners and
deputies



25380. What are examiners ? — Men who examine for the
safety of the mine.

25381. Firemen ?—Yee.

25382. (Chairman.) What is the difference between a
deputy and an examiner ? A deputy is supposed to be the
same as a fireman ? — ^Not in our coalfield.

25383. What is the difference ?— They call them
deputies because they are deputed to fill our position
during our absence.

25384. He is a deputy fireman ? — ^Yes.

26386. (Mr. Batdiffe Ellis.) First of all you deal with the
question of timbering ? — Yes.

25386. Have you any suggestions to make in addition
to those which are now provided for in the Greneral and
Special Rules as to timbering ? — ^Yes. What I have men-
tioned here I think would be of great benefit to the safety
of the miners.

25387. You say that there should be a plentiful supply
of timber ? — ^Yes.

25388. That is required now ?— Yes.

25389. It is not complied with, you think ? — In nearly
all cases, but there are cases where it is not.

25390. Where there is not a sufficient supply ? — ^Yes.

25391. You think that rule which now requires that
there should be a sufficient supply of timber should be
complied with ? — ^Yes.

25392. Have you anything more to suggest about the
quantity of timber that should be sent down ? Should it be
cut into different lengths, or are you satisfied with that ?
I see you say you would advise all caps or lids for upright
posts to be of good length and thickness, and be prepared
on the surface and sent into the mine in sufficient quantities
for all use. Can you tell me what length is required ? —
If there is a lid supplied on top it would materially assist
the miners in getting these props up when called for
inmiediately when a sudden squeeze came on.

25393. Would you put one or two lids ? — One would be
sufficient, providing you had the prop long enough.

25394. They should be supplied on the surface. Are
there lids made now ? — Not in all cases.

25395. You think that should be done on the surface.
If the prop was not long enough you could put a lid on and
make it long enough ? — ^Yes.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) A lid is placed on top of a prop, and
covers the greater part, and a great deal depends upon the
way that lid is made in order to run with the top.

(Mr. Raicliffe Ellis.) You do not anticipate any objection
to that ?

25396. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) No. The point is the timber
is sent down as it is without being made, and the man has
to make it as best he can at the place. The suggestion is
that a number of these lids should be prepared on the
surface, and the man select the best he can, and trim it to
his requirements. That is what you mean ? — ^Yes.

25397. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) That is with reference to the
supply of the timber ? — ^Yes.

26398. Then you speak as to the drawing of the timb^ ?
—Yes.

25399. What is your suggesfion about that ? — I would
suggest that Silvester's method of drawing timber is a very
good one. In nearly every case in the seams of South
Wales they have to be timbered, and when the road gets
too low they have to be taken out to allow of the passage
of the traffic, that is, the horses and so on. I think that if
these men were compelled to use these appliances in drawing
out this timber after they had been partly loosed, it would
be a source of safety to theuL

25400. You think that the timber should not be
taken out by knocking it from under with a hammer, but
that there should be an appliance like a lock and chain, by
which you could get the prop out without getting under-
neath the place ? — ^Yes.

25401. Is that in use in your district ? — Not generally.

25402. Do you thing that should be made compulsory ?
—Yes.

25403. Have you anything to suggest about who should
di'aw the timber ? Who <fraws the timber now ? — The
timber-man, the man in charge of the job. A section of the
work he is told off to repair, and I think that man shoula do
it, or sometimes he could have assistance from his mate, as
we call him down there.



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25401. Do you think that there ahoTild be a special man
appointed to draw the timber ? — ^The timber-man now
employed could do it. He does it now, often.

£5405. With veference to the hours of t^e colliery
examiners, what are the hours now ? — Twelve, generally,
in the mine.

25406. Do you think that is too long ?— Yes.

25407. During the time that you are in the mine can you
do the whole of the work that you have to do 7 Can you
make a proper examination of your district in the 12
houis ?— Yes.

25408. Do you think it is too long ?— Yes.

26409. What length of time do you think would be
proper ? — Eight hours.

25410. What colliery do you work at ? — ^Vivian CJolliery,
AbertiBery, Monmouthshire.

254U. Is that a large colliery ? — ^Yes.

25412. How many examiners are there there ? — ^Ten.

25413. How many deputies ? — Two.

25414. Do they work one or two shifts ? — Two — one on
the coal, and a repairing shift.

25415. Do you think the hours should be reduced to
8, and do you think that you could make a more com-
plete examination in that time ? — I think that if there were
three shifts of examiners it would materially a£Fect the
«uifety of the mine.

25416. As to shot-firing, have you shot-firing at your
colliery now ? — ^Yes.

25417. Do you fire between shifts ? — ^Yes.
2541$. Do you use safety lamps ? — ^Yes.

25419. How do you fire, electrically or with a fuse ? —
Electrically.

25420. Do you fire now between shifts ? — Yes.

25421. It is not general. Do you fire in the repairing
shift ? — 3No. Our colliery commences work, that is winding
coal, at 7 a.m., and they cease at 4.46, and shot-firing com-
mences at 5.40, and the men are supposed to be clear then —
,aU men except t)iose employed as i^ot-firersand examiners.

25422. Do you recommend that that system should be
made general ? — 1 recommend that that should be made
general between shifts, but not so soon after the men have
finished work.

25423. You would allow an interval between the time
the men come up from the working shift before the shot-
firers go down T — Yes.

25424. Do you fire in the coal ? — ^We fire in the coal in
one seam in the colliery.

25425. Do you recommend that the shot-firing in the coal
should be between shifts 1 — I might say in this one seam,
namely, the Elled seam, that the firing goes on during the
working shift, but there is an exemption from the mines
inspector.

25426. Do you suggest that there should be no shot-
firing in the coal except between shifts ? — I suggest that
the firing should only take place on main roads between
shifts.

25427. You would not apply that to the firing in the
coal 1 — No, shot-firing only during shift in exempted seams.

25428. There might be certain seams where even the
shot-firing in the coal should not take place except between
shifts ?— Yes.

25429. You would not make that general ? — ^No.

25430. You would make it general that shot-firing in the
roads should be only between shifts ? — On the main road-
ways.

25431. Would you also suggest that there should be no
shots fired in the main road except on the direct instruc-
tions of the manager 1 — Yes.

25432. Have you anything more to say about shot-
firing T — Only that I should like to have the time increased,
that is to say from one hour.

25433. More time given to shot -firing ? — ^Yee.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That shot-firing should not be done
so soon after the shift is over.

25434. {Mr. Batcliffe Ellis.) That is what he says. You
8ai4 shot-firing should not begin until some time after the
shift is over ? — Yes.



25435. What length of time do you suggest?— At least J^^'^^^^,,
four hours. UeesToweU.

25436. How would that work in ? How long does the 27 June 1907
shot-fiurer take with his work ?— Sometimes two hours.

25437. When would the repairing shift go down ? — I
would suggest for the safety of the mines that there should
be a shift of eight hours repairing.

25438. An eight hours* coal-getting shift, shot-firing
during the next eight hours, and ^ter that an eight
hours' repairing shift ? — ^Yes,

25439. (Chairman.) This is with the object of not raising
dust in the roadways ? — ^Yes.

25440. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUia.) Now with reference to the
Special Rules. What Special Rules do you desire to alter ?
You mentioned General Rule 4, which is as to the examina-
tion before the commencement of each shift. What
alteration do you want to make in that ? — ^It says in our
Monmouthshire Rules that the examination shall be made
with a locked safety lamp, except where gas has not been
found within the preceding 12 months. I suggest that in
every case the examiner should use the locked safety lamp,
and where gas is found frequently that there should be a
more sensitive lamp than now in use.

25441. You would suggest that in every mine where gas
has been seen at all the examination should be with a
locked safety lamp ? — Yes.

25442. But you think that the examiner should have a
more sensitive lamp ? — Yes, in the more fiery mines.

25443. What lamp do you suggest T— It will be hardly
fair for me to give my opinion as to the best lamp that is
on the market, but Dr. Clowes* hydrogen lamp is a very
good lamp.

25444. Examination No. 1 is to be made before the shift ?
—Yes.

25445. What do you suggest about the examination
during the shift ?— After the examination has been made
before the shift I suggest that there should be another one
made again at least during the working shift, and that both
should be recorded.

25446. The second one does not need to be recorded ?—
No, not at present.

25447. You think that they should both be recorded ?—
Yes.

25448. If there is more than one shift being worked what
then? You say that in collieries where there are two shifts
working night and day the examiner should be relieved
at the end of his eight hours and another examination made
by the relieving examiner ?— Take the colliery I work in



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 51 of 177)