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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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now ; the fireman could start at 3.30 a.m., make his
examination, and come out and see his men before they
entered the mine, and then, X think, he should make
another examination and cease work at 11.30, completing
a shift of eight hours.

25449. Forget the eight hours for the moment. If there
are two shifts, one inunediately following the other, would
the examination during the first shift do for the examination
prior to the beginning of the second shift?— That could be
arranged. In our colliery now the night examiner examines
for the day shift, and the day examiner examines for the
night shift. They both commence at 3.30 in the morning
and afternoon.

25450. If your system was adopted, there must be an
interval of eight hours between the two working shifts.
That could not be done ?— In the interval of eight hours
the examiner could be in examining the work while the
shot-firer fires his shots.

25451. They could examine during the shot-firing shift ?

25452. That would do for the examination before the
second shift of working ?— No, he might make an examina-
tion at least two and a-half hours before those men came in
—that is the repairing shift. That would do. The examina-
tion he had made two and a-half hours previous would do
for the shift coming in to repair, and the examiner under
the repairing shift could make the same examination for
the coal shift, if necessary, according to arrangement.

25453. That would be only one shift for coal-gettinff.
You could not have two coal-getting shifts ?■— No.

25454. With referenc^e to examinations, have you any-
thing more to say about that ?— Do you mean the ex-
amination in the mines ?

Digitized by




Mr. John
Bees Powell.

27 June 1907

25455. I mean the examination before and during the
shift. Have you said all that you wish to say about that ?

(Mr. TTm. Abraham,) I do not think he has finished.
Does he not suggest that the relieving examiner should
make really the third examination ?

( Mr, Batch ffe Ellis.) No.

(The WUnefs,) That is what I meant.

25456. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) There is something in his
mind which he has not made clear ? — I had better explain.

25457. What time do you go down in the morning to
make the first examination ? — 3.30, generally, in South

25458. When you have done that, what do you do next?
— We come back to report, and then after the men are sent

25459. What do you do ? Do you examine the lamps of
the men ? — Yee.

25460. What do you do next ?— After the men are sent
away to their various working places, we get a list from the
pit top sajring who is absent, and so on, and, of course, we
have to make arrangements to fill up those gaps, and tJien
we have to attend immediately to the places that we
might have found unsafe or dangerous during our preced-
ing examination, and make them safe, clear any gas that
might be present, and any bad roof or sides get attended to
at once. We make it a point to ^o to those places at once.

25461. What do you mean by clearing any gas T —
Diluting any gas we might find.

25462. Do you do that where the men are at work ? — Tf
it is not in large quantities. Small quantities can be cleared

25463. Are you in the habit of clearing small quantities
of gas from stalls when the men are at work in the district 7
— Providing thit the amount is not very great. If the
amount is great we get the men all cleared from the return
side of it.

25464. Providing that there is not a great amount of gas,
you clear it during the time the men are at work ? — Yes, if
it is not a very large quantity.

25465. When you have done that, what else do you do
during the day ?— We examine all the roads and faces and
see that timber is sent in, and various other duties besides
such as keeping time and looking after things generally.

25466. Looking after the traffic to see that the coal is
coming out from your district 7 — Yes.

25467. Doyoudothat 7— Yes.

25468. Are you called out occasionally from your own
duties to attend to help the haulier, or see that the coal is
got out properly from the district 7 — Yes.

25469. When do you, as a rule, make your last examina-
tion 7 — We make our examination in Monmouthshire,
generally, at 3.30 p.m. in the afternoon, and that suffices for
the night-shift.

25470. Is that the second time that you are examining
the faces 7 — Yes.

25471. After you have examined them the first time
before the morning shift, you do not examine again until
three o'clock in the afternoon 7 — Yes, in every case where
the examiner goes in preceding the shift they make at
least one examination after, before they go out. If they
go in at 3.30 in the morning they leave at 3.30 in the after-
noon, but in cases where I am employed at present we start
at six o'clock in the morning. Of course, the night ex-
aminer has made his examination for the day-shift. Then
we go about our business, examining the whole of the dis-
trict that we are engaged in, and then at 3.30 in the after-
noon we examine for the night-shift, so really our laat
examination is most important.

25472. Is it at 3.30 in the afternoon that the day fireman
makes his first examination 7 — No.

25473. You say you take time and then what do you do ;
We want to know exactly what you mean 7 — I will explain
to you. Take two cases.

25474. The night fireman makes the examination pre-
ceding the day-shift 7 — Yes.

25475. When do you make your first examination 7 — We
stArt about eight o'clock in the morning, after the men have
fr,ot to their places, sometimes before then. First of all we
remove all these dangers, as I told you, and then we start our
examination. We come back then and have our food and
start again. We are in the district before 3.30, but we
examine minutely from 3.30 to the end of our shift. Now
do you understand, Mr. Abraham 7

{Mr. Enoch Edwards.) He is given two shifts and two
separate systems.

25476. (Mr. Wm. Abrah4im.) He did not make it as dear
as, I think, he had a right to. You make a thorough
examination in the morning from eight to about 12
o'clock, or later. That is your first examination after you
have seen everybody at work 7 — Yes, we are generally
engaged from about eight o'clock to 12, and then we
oome back to our station for refreshment, and after seeing
that things are all right, and having refreshment, we next
go in our district and start our examination at 3.30 for the
night-shift. That is after we have been at work over nine
hours. Do you follow me now 7

25477. (Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) With reference to the quali-
fication for the examiners, do you think that they should
have certificates 7 — Yes.

25478. By examination 7 — Yes.

25479. Would you suggest that a second-class certificate
would be satisfactory 7 — Yes ; but I am sorry to say
that, perhaps, the supply would not meet the demand of
second-class certificates.

25480. If that were arranged, you would let the men
occupying the positions now have service certificates. A
man who had been examining for so many years would have
a service certificate, and a new man would have a second-
class certificate 7 — Yes, or some new certificate instituted.

25481. Do you suggest a different examination from the
second-class examination 7 — Yes, for examiners.

25482. What sort of an examination would it be 7 — An
examination with a knowledge of the Coal Mines Act, and,
of course, a knowledge of gas and ventilation and general

25483. They do not want much more for the second-class
certificate 7 — They generally do, I think.

25484. You think, at any rate, that there should be some
examination conducted by the Home Office to qualify the
fireman for that position 7 — Yes.

25485. With regard to the making of Special Rules, you
suggest that there should be an alteration in the present
metnod of making them. You say : " Whenever Special
Rules need amenmng, or instituting, that there be repre-
sentatives of aU classes engaged in the mine on such Board,
especially examiners, as they are the persons who are em-
ployed to see that the Act is applied in very many instances.
They could possibly offer many useful suggestions in the
formation of rules.' What sort of a Board is this to be 7 —
There was a Board in Monmouthshire some two years ago
composed of the mines inspector for the district and t£e
various colliery managers and miners' agents.

25486. It was voluntarily invited to discuss this matter 7

25487. You suggest that the examiners should be on
that Board 7— Yes.

25488. Not necessarily miners' agents, but persons
occupying the position of examiners 7 — Yes ; as well as
other representatives.

25489. I will put to you a difficulty there is about that.
Do you suggest that no rule should be proposed except one
that was approved by that Board 7 — In the making of
Special Rules, that is, appertaining to collieries, I think
every class should be represented on such a Board.

25490. Would you go so far as to say that the owner of a
mine should not be entitled to propose a Special Rule unless
it was approved by this Board 7 — It is not now, generally.

25491. Would you go to that extent and say that a man
should not be entitled to propose a Special Rule unless it
was approved by this Board 7 — No.

25492. Would this meet your views. Supposing that the
owner proposes a rule, as he does now, but before it is
established the Home Secretary should give notice, and
anybody interested — examiners, workmen, miners' agents,
or anyone else — should have an opportunity of objecting to
it, and if their objections could not be settled that it should
be decided by arbitration 7 — That would be better, but I
do not see what would prevent doing as I suggest here.

25493. I am showing you. Supposing the owner was
anxious to propose a rule, he could not do it if the Board
said " That rule shall not be proposed." My suggestion is
that the men should be entitled to be heard at a later stage
before it is established, but that it should be proposed by the
owner, if he chooses, without asking ai^ybody. Do you see
any objection to that 7 Of course, before it becomes law
all parties should have an opportunity of stating their
objections to it 7 — As I said before, I do not see why you
oould not adopt the suggestion I have put down.


Digitized by




25494. I do not see why you could not adopt mine ; that
is the difficulty between us. Do you see any difficulty in
adopting mine, because I do not propose that the rule
should be established until everybody has had an oppor-
tunity of diBOussing it T — I quite follow, but I think, as I
suggest, if the men were called in in the framing of those
rules, that it would be satisfactory, and that it would entail
less cost and trouble in getting them through.

25405. Supposing the men are not to have a veto, what is
the use of calling them in ? — They could have a veto as

25496. I call them in when they could have an oppor-
tunity of vetoing and go to arbitration. However, you
prefer your own S3^em. You think that mine is better
than the state of things at present, but you prefer your
own system ? — ^I think that if we adopt what I say, the
Rules could be framed better.

25497. (Chairman.) Is not your suggesticm rather that
the men should be consulted at the earliest possible moment
with regard to these Rules ? — ^Yee.

25498. When an owner has once put forward a set of
Rules that he thinks ought to be established, he has com-
mitted himself to those Rules. Is it not your suggestion
that before the owner has committed himself at all to
these Rules, that he should have a conference with the men,
to discuss the matter before he comes to any definite con-
clusion, even as to whether he would wish to see the Rules
established ? — ^That is my view.

25499. {Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) In that conference are the
men to have a right to say '* That Rule shall not be pro-
posed," because if they are not to have that right what is
the good of a conference 7 — ^I do not want to go as far as

25500. You suggest that there should be a conference,
but if at the conference they did not agree, the owner
should still be at liberty to propose his rule ? — ^He could
go on.

25501. Do you not think that that would cause more fric-
tion T Supposing you had a meeting and did not agree ?
— ^X can cite a case when they proposed and formed the
last new Special Rules in Monmouthshire, and the Forest
of Dean. I thmk that nearly everybody was represented
except the examiners.

25502. That was a voluntary meeting at which they
were asked. There was no compulsion put upon the
owner to propose a Rule.

{Mr. Wm. Abraham.) The result of that was so good
that the witness wants to make it compulsory, in order to
secure a similar result.

25503. {Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) I want as much Uberty as
I can get. My scheme would enable examiners and every-
body interested to make an objection and be heard. We
neea not go further into this matter, but you say you
prefer your own scheme ? — ^They were allowed 14 days last
time to make objection.

25504. My scheme is different, but you prefer your own ?

25505. Now with regard to the administration of the
Mines Act, you think tnat everybody should have a copy
of the Rules ? — ^Yes.

25506. They can have them now if they apply for them 7
— ^It is gpven them when they start work.

25507. {Mr. SmiUie.) Officials only— not the individual
workers 7— Yes, everyone.

25508. {Mr. RaicUffe EUis.) You say that the workman
should be encouraged to ascertain what is contained in
the ho6k presented to him. Who is to encourage him 7
—I state that further down.

25509. Is it the officials 7 — ^And the owners, too. In
South Wales and Monmouthahize they offer prizes toKlay
for ambulance efficienoy. I think if they put up prizes
every year for the workers that there would be a better
opportunity for them to know what is in the Book of

25510. These are for safety. Should he require to have
a prize offered him to ascertain what is contained in a book
compiled for the purpose of securing his own safety 7 —
Often the men never open the book ^ter they get it.

2651L Do yoa enoooiage them to ascertain what is
contained in it as examiners 7 — Yes.

26512. Oaa yoa suggest any better enooaiagximent than
that which is given by the officials 7— Yes, I think it would
be a stmrahu to thflnm if there was a oerfcifioate given, or

25513. You think that it would induce them to read
the Rules if prizes were offered 7 — Yes, by the manager or

25514. Then you say in paragraph 8 : ** It should also
be the aim of all officials to see that the Act is properly
carried out." There is no need for an alteration of the
law to provide that 7— No.

25515. ' ' And frequently inform the men under his
charge the requirements, and every workman with a boy
under his charge should assist him in acquiring a full know-
ledge of all appertaining to him to good discipline in the
mines ** ; that is excellent, and everybody agrees with
that. **. There should, so far as possible^ be a mutual
understanding 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 be 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.*' Excellent again; we
quite agree with that. You do not want any legislation
in order to secure that 7 — ^It is not compulsory.

25516. How would you make it compulsory that the
officials and the workmen should have a good understanding,
and that each man should be made to do his duty 7 — I
say about this last phrase about the boys on the main road,
that I have seen boys about the road after the traffic has

25517. You would order them away 7 — Yes.

25518. What more do you want than that 7 — ^I should
say make it compulsory for them not to go there. I have
heard men tell me that it is no business of mine.

25519. They will tell you that whatever the law is 7 —
If I had the law at my back it would be better.

25520. It is your business to see that they are not there,
and you send them away now 7 — ^Yes, but I am told then
it is not my business.

25521. I think you cannot alter that by an Act of Parlia-
ment. Then you say that there should be special facilities
in every colliery for rescue work, but the Commission has
already considered that matter and issued a report upon
it. Then you say:* There should be a central station in
each mining district where this knowledge might be ob-
tained." 'niat has been under consideration. * * In every
colliery ambulance work should be encouraged, and instead
of as now stated in General Rule 34, where it states that
ambulances or stretchers, with splints and bandages shall
be kept at the mine in case of accidents, it should state
that they be kept in each district, and such other things
as may be necessary for use in the case of accidents. You
want them to be kept somewhere near where they are
wanted 7 — ^Yes, in the district.

I 25522. The chest of the deputy or examiner has been
suggested. Would that be a suitable place to keep them 7
— Yes, or the lamp station.

25523. Is there anything else you wish to add about
that 7 — ^No, I do not think so.

25524. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) What are the hours
generally worked in the district of the Association of which
you are Secretary 7 — ^With very few exceptions, one or
two collieries, the examiners work 12 hours.

' 25525. 12 hours at the pit, or 12 hours in all 7 — 12 hours
at the pit, down the pit often.

^ 25526. Ib there something else they have to do when
they come up from the pit 7 — Yes, I have heard in some
places that they have to do duties that they should not.

25527. You are here now representing the Association 7

Mr. John
Been Powell.

27 June 1007

You have special ways of knowing what is the
rule and practice at the collieries in the Asisociation 7 —

25529. Will you kindly tell us what are the hours
generally worked in the district 7— They work 12 hours
down the pit, and after having made their report they
have to consult with their superior officials as to the
general state of the roads, and so on.

25530. What kind of a report 7 — ^A verbal report.

25531. Again, what time would you add to the 12 hours,
another hour or 1^ hours, to be the general hours worked
by the examiners m thb district 7 — About 12| hours, until
they are relieved.

25532. Do you consider that too many 7— Yes.

25533. You consider it too many by a great number 7

Digitized by



MINUTES OP evidence:

Mr. John
Jttees PotoeU.

27 June i^

{Mr. RcOdiffe EUis.) He says eight hours.

{WUne88,) I suggest that it is too great by a third of
the time.

25534. (Mr. Wnt. Abraham.) Have you any recommenda-
tion to mate as to improving the examinations in your
district 7 — ^Yes, I think the examination should be made
with a more sensitive lamp than we have at present.

26535. What about the number of examinations made ?
— I should say two at least in eight hours.

25536. Two in addition to the one preceding the shift,
or two including that one ? — ^I should have three sets of
examiners in every colliery, that is, one starting! we will
suggest, two and a half hours before the commencement
of the shift. That is, the pit is open at 6 o'clock in the
morning for general work and for lowering persons, and
ooal winding commences at 7 a.m. There should be an
examination made before each shift commences — say the
fii-st at 3.30 a.m., and another one at least after the coal
shift commences up to 11.30 a.m.; then be relieved in
the district, by another examiner coming in fresli. He
should make an examination then, and another up to
7,30 p.m. ; then he also to be relieved in the district, and
another examiner start at once to examine and make an
examination then, and also another before he is relieved,
say 3.30 next morning, and all examinations recorded,
and by this method there would be an examiner always
in the mine.

25537. What system is there in the district for keeping
the roads clear of coal falling from the trams, and rubbish,
and so forth T— When coal falls off the trams it is cleared

25538. How often are the roads cleaned ? — ^In every
shift where I am engaged — every repairing shift.

25539. Have you any dust accumulating ? — ^Yes.

25540. How often is the dust cleared ? — Every night.

25541. Are all the roads in the district where you are
working kept clear of dust and rubbish and everything ?
There is nothing to prevent anybody passing trams ? —
No. Of course these smaller particles go to the top and
on the timber, and so on.

25542. bust on the timber would not prevent any
man passing the trams ? — ^No.

25543. Have you any other improvement to suggest,
with the exception of shortening the hours of the examiners
and a third examination being made ? — Yes, I think his duty
should be confined to examining.

25544. What does he do now in addition to examining P
• — He examines, and he keeps the time of every man and

boy in his district. He sees that there is a supply of
timber sent in to the workings, and he has to see that
everything is kept in repair, and in very many cases he
has to superintend and look after the traffic ; he has to
put up brattice-sheets for the ventilation in the district he
is in, and supposing he comes across a door damaged, it
would be his duty to assist in repairing that door, so that
the ventilation could go on its proper course.

25545. Looking after the ventilation would be a part
of the ezaminer's duty ? — ^Yes.

25546. Is the examiner called out to do somethiiig else
that prevents him from giving proper attention to the
necessary examinations in his district T — ^Yee, he is called
out to the traffic often.

25547. In your opinion his duty should be confined to
that of a fireman only T — Yes, and of course I mean now
the examination to include his looking after the timber to
see that it is properly set, and everything else appertain-
ing to safety.

. 25548. That is part of his examination in the district 7 —

25549. You object to his being called out of the district
to attend to other things which are not the duties of an
examiner ? — That is so.

25560. {Mr. F. L. Davia.) The hours in Monmouthshire
are 12 ?— Yes.

25551. Is that so in every case, do you know ? — In every
case ii} Monmouthshire. I know some collieries in
Monmouthshire where they work more. That is on one
shift, only they change aJtemately from 14 hours one
week to 10 hours the next week.

2555 ?. So far as you know that is about the time ? —
Twelve hours is universal

25553. Do you happen to know whether the hours are
longer in Monmouthshire than Glamorganshire T — I t.hinlr

they are similar in Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire.
That is generally so, but there are exceptions.

25554. I think you said that generally speaking you con-
sider the districts were too large ? — Yes, in very many cases.

25555. At the present time ? — Yes.

25556. Is yovLT district too large ?— No, not under
present conditions.

25557. I mean where you are working now ? — No.

2555S. Do you know of any cases where the firemen
have complained to the manager of the district being too
large, and the management have curtailed it and met them 7
— Yes I know some cases where they have been applied
to and the maneiger has met them ; and I can cite names
on oath, if they are wanted, where they have been asked ana
it is not conceded yet.

25559. There have been cases where it has been brought
to the manager's notice and it has been altered 7 — Yes, in
my own casie.

25560. You say here that you want two examinations,
one before the shift 7 — As now.



And one after the shift, but a record made of it 7

25562.' It is a fact that at the present time there are two
examinations made, but only one is recorded 7 — Yes.

25563. You want both to be recorded 7 — Yes.

25564. With regard to the question of ambulance and
stretchers and all appliances for first aid, the last witness
said he thought that they ought to be kept not at the

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 52 of 177)