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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 54 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 54 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

in the morning. We call them deputies. It is another
name for assistant firemen.

25721. They only do part of the work you do, and I
suppose they do not get the same pay 7 — No, to make it
clear, the reason that plan is adopted is this. I mentioned
some time back that there was one seam in our colliery
where they do do shot firing in the shift, only being a
damp seam they have had an exemption from the inspector.
There is no shot-firing at night, and, of course, the one
examiner can proceed with his work much quicker. They
have two men engaged in this seam all day and one at
night as an examiner, and then this man coming in the
morning to assist him on his last examination.

25722. One examiner has an assistant with him 7 — ^Yes,
in the j:noming.

25723. To help him do his work 7 — ^Yes, and to report
for himself.

(Mr. Batdiffe Ellis.) Shall I ask Mr. Evans if he agrees
with the evidence of this gentleman. I notice there is one
thing he says in his statement, that is that the men should
be required to buy their explosives from the owner. That
is the only addition he has to make to the witness's evidence

(Chairman.) Would you like to make a statement, Mr
Evans 7

(Mr. Evans.) Yes, my lord.

Mr. John
Bees Powell.

27 Jane 1907

Mr. John Hbnby Eyans, called and examined.
Statbmknt of Witness.

25724. (1) Discipline within recent years has been
much better, but uie recklessness of many of the work-
men in disregarding the rules, and in some cases the
laxity of officials in enforcing them, and their dis-
regarding also of them is the direct cause of many
preventable accidents.

(2) The long hours worked by the colliery examiner ju John
which in the majority of cases are 12, are such that nenruEvans

they cannot supervise so keenly the last few hours of J(

the working shift, therefore, discipline is not so good,
and I believe great assistance would be given if the
representatives of the workmen impressed upon them
that it is part of their duty to obey instructions given

Digitized by




Mr. John
Eienry Evans

27 June IQpT

and assist in keeping good discipline. Something should
be done to prove that men are practical workmen, when
they apply for employment in different branches.

(3) Colliers should do all the propping and timbering
of their working places, sooner. lapping should ho
done immediately after the roof is exposed, and more
attention should be given by the workmen to better and
proper packing which can best be enforced, if necessary,
by frequent visits to a workman's place by the official
in charge.

(4) Workmen's inspection according to General' Rule
38 has done a great deal of good in satisfying the work-
men as to the safe condition of the mine, and is carried
out in the majority of collieries.

(5) Shot-firing in my opinion ought to be prohibited
during the working shift. It should be permitted only
where coal shots have to be during the shift, and that
under special condition. All shots should be fired
between shifts by a man specially appointed. I think
it should be made compulsory on the men to get their
explosive from the owner.

25724a. [Witnesa.) I am examiner at Lewis Merthyr
Colliery and represent the Monmouthshire and South
Wales CoUieiy Examiners* Association. There are two
or three suggestions which I do not think my friend
Mr. PoweU has made quite deir to you. The last one
particularly is this one, the question of the assistant.
One thing we condemn in South Wales very strongly is
that this man, that is, the assistant firemm, does
not accompany the fireman, but he does a part of the
district of the fireman, which is too large for the fireman
to do within the time allotted. They have made inspec-
tion previous to the shift. There is a supervision of all
these places where the man has inspeitod in the morning
and the fireman has to take charge of those men, and part
of the district that he has not inspected, lliis we say is
very wrong. We suggest that every man that makes the
inspection previous to the shift s lould be responsible for
the men working in that particular district during the shift
of working.

25725. (Mr. Batdiffe EUia.) The man who makes the
inspection before the men go to work should make the
necessary inspe.tions, whatever they may be, during the

'time the men are at work ? — And supervise the men.

25726. That would make a very long day 7 — No ; in the
majority of cases in South Wales there are too many places
allotted to one fireman or deputy to make the inspection
according to the Act ; therefore, he must get a deputy to
inspect his places.

25727. In point of time, whatever size the district is, he
must be down two and a-half hours before the men, and if
he stops down all the time the men are down, if the men are
down 12 hours it would give him about 14 hours ? — This is
the point I want to be quite clear upon. I have to be re-
sponsible for the safety of those men during a part of the
shift when I have not inspected their places.

25728p Supposing you reUeve the first man and come
on the second fireman ? — We ought to get our district so
allotted that we could make the inspection ourselves. I
should not be aole to make the inspection.

25729. That means that the district should be reduced in
size 7

{Mr. Smillie.) Supposing he has 70 places he can only
make his morning examination for 60, and another person
has to make it for the other 20. Immediately after that
examination the whole 70 are under the fireman.

25730. (Mr. Ratcliffe EUia.) It comes to this, the district
is too large 7 — That is the point.

25731. (Chairman.) You object to this system of deputies
altogether 7 — Yes.

25732. You would have everybody full examiners 7 —
I object to the system of deputies.

25733. (Mr. Ratcliffe EUia.) The district is too large for
one man to look after 7 — Yes.

25734. Is there anything else in Mr. Powell's evidence
which you do not agree with 7 — I wish to say something

25735. (Chairman.) On the matter of deputies, do you
speak on behalf of the Association 7 — We are speaking on
behalf of the Association.

25736. Mr. Powell and you. Mr. PoweU does not object
to this system of permanent deputies, but you do 7 — Yes.

25737. Which of you represents the Association 7
(Mr. PoweU.) I was not asked that, my Lord.
(Chairman.) I understood that if you had objected to the

system of deputies you would have sadd Bq, I xnay take it
you both agree as to that 7
(Mr. PoweU.) Yes.

( Witneas.) There is another point in oonneotion with the
hours worked During the hours worl^d by the colliery
examiners we think, and we practically know, that we are
not doing j ustice. We know that we are not doing what we
woul.i like to do for the safety of the men.

25738. (Mr. Batdiffe EUia.) You think that ihej ought
to be reduced. Both physically and mentally they are
too great a strain on a man to do his worii: satisfactorily.
You think that they should do reduced to 8 hours 7 —

25739. That is your view, and Mr. Powell has said that
too 7 — Yes, that is my view.

25740. Have you anything to say with regard to the
question of timbering 7 In your statement you say colliers
snould do all the propping and timbering of their working
places sooner,and thatpropping should be done immediately
after the roof is exposed, and more attention should be
given by the workmen to better and proper packing, which
can best be enforced, if necessary, by frequent visits to a
workman's place by the official in charge, that is to say, the
oUiers ought to do their propping sooner, and not wait till
the roof comes down 7 — Accorc&g to the ruld of South
Wales there is a uniform system of timbering at the coal
face, but inasmuch as only one examination is required, and
only one can be done by the time allotted, the possibility is
that the worker risks it and does not put it up at the stipu-
lated time when it is exposed.

25741. The collier is apt to be negligent, and wants more
inspection 7 — A keener inspection.

25742. A reduction of the districts would bring that
about 7 — A keener inspection.

25743. Then you say that worlanen's inspection,
according to General Rule 38, has done a great deal of
good in satisfying the workmen as to the safe conditfbn of
the mine, and is carried out in the majority of oolHeries 7

25744. Have you anything to suggest by way of altering
that 7 — Yes, I would suggest that some pressure should be
put in some way or other and get the workmen to do this in
some collieries ; I am sorry to say it is done only once in
every six or twelve months.

25745. What pressure do you suggest should be brought
on the workmen to do it 7 — I think there should be some-
thing in the Special Rules almost compelling them to do it
once every three months.

25746. It the workmen do not do it now, do you think
that they would do it any more if there was something in the
Special Rules 7 — I believe if there is something in the
Special Rules that when the inspection was done by the
men — the difficulty is this, that the men have to pay
themselves for inspecting— if there was something done by
the State or some other source to pay a part of these men's
wages, undoubtedly, it would be done oftener.

25747. Do you think the difficulty now about making
these inspections is because there is no fund to pay the
men 7 — It is adding the cost on to the men.

25748. Do you think that is an objection 7 — To some
extent it is.

25749. To what extent— is it a large extent 7 — It is in
this way : in large collieries, undoubtedly, it would be a
great expense to do it according to the Mines Act once
every month, and the men are not in many cases paid at
the high standard of wages for doing that work.

25750. They are not paid adequately for doing it 7 — No.

25751. Do you think their not doing it arises from fear of
the consequences 7 — Yes. Perhaps so.

25752. Have you known where reprisals have been made
because a man had made an inspection and made a bad
report 7 — I hardly think it is fair.

25753. Have you known such cases 7 — Yes, indirectly
undoubtedly, it has been done.

25754. Very indirectly 7 — Yes.

25755. (Chairman.) Do you mean by " indirectly " that
a man has been sent away and you cannot trace his being
sent away to his report 7 — It is in this way not direct : you
dare not do it direct, but undoubtedly, in my opinion, cases
have happened.

25756. People have been mysteriously given notice that
their services are not required any more 7 — No. It is a
question, 1 think, I should hardly answer.


Digitized by





25757. {Mr. RakUge EUis,) Yon do not feel that yon
ought to give any information as to where this has happened
or the ppent you would go. You think there have been
cases where the iiaen have suffered in consequence. of making
a bad report. Is this examination usually made I y the
workmen in the mine ? — Yes. Perhaps so.

25758. Do you think that is desirable ? — Yes.

. 25759. They know more about it than anybody else T —

25760. You would not give the right to make the in-
spection to any other persona than those employed in the
mine ? — No, certainly not. I believe the inspection ought
to be done by the men in the mine.

(Chairman.) At present, the men, if they choose, can
appoint a man from another mine.

25761. (Mr, Batcliffe Ellis.) In his view it is not desir-
able, he says. You think that this inspection is best done
by people employed in the mines being inspected ? — Yea.

25762. You think it desirable that it shoidd be more
used T — Yes.

25763. You think one reason is that the men are not
sufficiently paid, and another may be that there is some
fear that there might be reprisals if a bad report is made.
That is your view ? — Yes.

, 25764. Shot-firing, you agree with the last witness, ought
to be done between the shifts ? — Yes. There is one point
upon which I differ from my friend. I do not agree as to
shot-firing in the coal. *

25766. You would always have that done between
shifts t — I do not believe in shot- firing in the coal at alL

25766. But where it has to be done it would be incon-
venient to do it between shifts T — Yes.

25767. You speak rather as to the haulage roads, the
main roads ? — ^I do not believe in shot-firing in the coed
in dusty and fiery mii^es, in saseous mines at all, because
they are the greatest danger, m my opinion.

25768. You think thq explosives purchased ought to be
BuppUed by the owner, in order to secure proper explosives?

25769. Is there any other statement you wish to make
to the Commission 7 — Yes. I should like to say a few
words with regard to the hours of working. I beUevo
something should be done with regard to making a second
inspection during the working shift compulsory. Again,
we have adopted at my collieries working three shifts of
firemen, and we have found this system very successful,
and we have brought colliery accidents to a minimiun.

26770. You only work eight hours. Your firemen only
work eight hours ? — A continual supervision of eight hours
each shift, but our work does not quite finish at the eight
hours. Our supervision of the mine is eight hours each,
that is in the face and the workings. Any office work, such
as booking, we do after leaving the shift.

25771. You have to add half-an-houx on to the eight
hours ? — Yes, half-an-hour or three-quarters of an hour.

25772. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) I thmk it is worth while
that the Comipission should know how these three shifts
are. worked in practice, so that we may see the effect of it.
Will you make a statement as to that ? — ^This is the way
we work, According to the Coal Mines Act we are required
to go down two and a-half hours previous to the shift. We
are down the colliery from 4 to 4.30 in the morning. We
make our inspection previous to the shift, and then we
are up the shaft about 6. We inspect the lamps till 7.
We go down at 7 o'clock and right into the colliery face
with the men : we are practicaUy in the coal face super-
vising the men at the same time as they start. We ma^e
an inspection again. After I have made my inspection I
am back at 12.30 to 12.45, or a shade after. I am not
leaving my district until the fireman comee down at 12.30
or 20 to 1. He comee in to the point of the district and
in this case has charge from me and starts to make another
inspection. The majority of accidents in our colliery
happen in the last few hours of the shift. When the
second fireman is coming on he is coming from the top
with good eyesight and good hearing, and he is coming into
the face to inspect the timber set during the morning, and
any mistake he is able to see which a man would not see
when he was exhausted, but this man is full of energy.
By that system we believe we have brought our accidents
down to a minimum point. During the last three years
we have only had one fatal accident in the mine and one
broken limb.

26773. (Chairman.) From falls of roof and rfdes t—
Yes, again at 9 o'clock at nig^t, or 9.30 these men would
inspect the day shift previous to the night shift. There
would be another inan coming down at 9 o'clock at night

25774. (Mr. Wm. Abraham^) Your great point is this,
that a fresh man examines these districts when. the men
are exhaust^ ?— When the men are exhausted this man
comes from the top full of energy and can see any difficulty
or danger, and he can see things quicker than men who
have been working hard all day. I believe we have reduced
the accidents to a minimnTT^ point.

25775. You have only had one fatal accident during the
last three years T— Yes.

25776. (Chairman.) In your particular mine ? — Yes.

25777. How many are employed ?— In the particular
pit where I am, 1000.

25778. In that pit, 1000 ?— We have only had one fatal
accident in three years and one broken limb.

25779. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) You would advocate that
three shifts should be made compulsory in our mines ? —

25780. (Mr. SmiUie.) You would not require three
shifts if no workmen were at the face ?— We are talking as
the mines are now. I say we require three shiftfl. Then ^
with regard to the workmen, I thmk something should
be in the Special Rules compelling a workman when apply,
ing for employment from one colliery to another to prove
that he was a practical workman. If he applied for cutting
coal, he would have to prove that he had been a collier
cutting coal, or the same with any other branch. I believe,
in my opinion, that it would reduce the accidents. The
only accident we have had was a man who came in without
our knowledge, and not being a collier. He got killed on
the third day, and we found out that he had been a labourer

25781. (Mr. JRatdiffe Mis.) Would you have any
objection to being submitted to a medical examination
also ?— JWell, no ; no objection to a medical examination,
although it is not always necessary.

25782. You never can tell ; supposing he was suffering
from nystagmus or something of that kind?

25783. (Mr. Enoch Edioarda.) I understood you, differed
from your friend on this interpretation of the deputies.
You object to deputies altogether ? — ^Yes.

25784. The term ** deputy " has been suggested to us
as a sort of assistant fireman ? — ^Yes, the deputy would
be an assistant fireman.

25785. How many firemen are there at this colliery,
where you employ 1,000 men ? — ^There would be 18.

25786. You are working in eight-hour shifts ? — Prac-

25787. In the case of accident to one of you, or illness,
which happens to firemen like everyone else, how would
the Company carry out the eight hours if there were no
deputies ? — They would have to substitute someone else.

25788. Who are not firemen ?— Exactly hke putting
a fresh man on. Experience would show the Company
that the man was capable of carrying out the duty, and
they would substitute that man in the place for the time.

25789. I was putting to you whether you had overlooked
that practical difficulty, that a deputy oi two about the
pit may be in the interests of the men themselves, who
are firemen who met with sickness, and aho in the
interests of the Company, too. The creation of other
firemen might not be the best of things for the firemen,
but you object to anybody being employed at all above
the number T — ^No, it is in the interests of safety.

25790. Your friend who gave evidence before said that
they had ten firemen and two deputies. The deputy does
the work over the area the firemen should cover. They
are assistants to the firemen. If there are no men about
the place there are 18 of you who must, to carry out your
eight hours system automatically, depend on John Jones
coming on that shift, and Thomas Jones on the next, and
William Jones on the next. In the absence of any deputies
there is no one to take your place. How will you make
your eight hours ? — ^In this way. On the question of
deputy firemen there ought to be a distinction between
that and a brattice man. In the whole of Glamorganshire
a fireman has a brattice man, who in a sense is a deputy to
a fireman.

Mr. John
Henry Evana

27 June lOOt


Digitized by




Mr, John
Henry Evans

27 June 1907

25791. Do not concern yourself about brattice men.
Are you well advised in your strong objection to there
being a fireman or two at the colliery more than there is
immediate employment for in your eight hours ? — ^That
is for the employer to look at. What I object to is this :
the deputy doing a part of the inspection previous to the
shift commencing work, and that supervision handed over
to the real fireman for the day's work.

25792. For that reason you object to the deputies
altogether ? — ^Yes.

26793. (Mr. Wm, Abraham.) That kind of work ?— That
Jdnd of work.

25794. (Chairman.) If a fireman is ill you do not object
to somebody bmng appointed previously in case the fire-
man cannot perform his duties ? — Certainly not.

25795. You have 18 firemen. If one of you is ill you
would not object to a man being appointed to take his
place ? — Certainly not.

23696. In case he should faU ill ?— Yes.

25797. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Do you suggest if one was
ill one would work two shifts ? — No, it is not allowed.

26798. But you have a compulsory eight hours T — So
far as our collieries are concerned.

(Mr. Enoch Edwards.) It struck me that if you object
to these deputies there might be a difficulty in finding
firemen competent to do the work. In your report you cure
good enough to say that workmen's inspection carried
out accordmg to Rule 38 has done a great deal of good.
You also say that it is carried out in the majority of col-
lieries. It is the first time we have heard that. We
gathered from the inspectors in your district that this
examination of collieries was almost a dead letter. I think
that is the evidence.

(Mr. Ratdiffe EUta.) I do not think so in South Wales.
Some of the inspectors said it was a dead letter in Lanca-

(Mr. SmiUie.) Mr. Tom Richards said so.

(Witness.) It is practically taken up in the whole field
of Glamorganshire.

25799. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Although they do not do
it every month ? — They do it some time in the year ; some
every month, some every two months, some three months,
and some six months.

25800. You say it has worked very satisfactorily ? — ^Yes.

25801. As to the empWer finding the explosives, what
do you mean by that 7 — ^There should be only one class of
explosive used, and there are oases undoubtedly where the
men are allowed to buy the explosives from different
people that are supplying them. The hole would be bored
1^ mches when they had the powder practically too large
for the hole. Again, where the holes are If inches they
would get the powder or ball supplied 2 inches. There is a
risk in people trying to force a ball powder into a hole which
is not so large.

25802. I understand that, but I am not asking you to
elaborate that. Usually in the coimtry the employers
find them, and they are stored at the collieries ? — Yes.

25803. Do you suggest for those reasons that they should
be got from the company ? — Yes.

25804. That would obviate men storing them in their
cottage homes ? — ^Yes.

25805. You do not say anything about who is to pay

for it T — Of course that is another point. That is entirely
a different point.

25806. It will lead me to what I want to ask you. You
think they should be obtained from the firm 7 — Yes.

25807. The suggestion is that they are got from some-
where else. It is a question of price when they are got
from somewhere else 7 — ^Not in all cases.

25808. Why are they got from somewhere else 7 — On
account of the men themselves thinking that they could
in some cases get them cheaper.

2.5809. There must be some underlying motive ; human
nature is alike everywhere. If the colliery company
supplied the explosive, the men want it at the same price
as a man keeping a store, what could be the object of
buying it from tibe store-keeper 7 —

(Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) Perhaps it would be absence of
oommon sense.

25810. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) I want to know whether
there is anything in the colliery people charging the man
a higher price than he could purchase it elsewhere 7 — As
far as the question goes, I am not prepared to answer

26811. There must be some reason for it 7 — Un-
doubtedly there is. It would avoid the storing of powder
in the mine. The shot-firers would know the amount of
holes to be fired, and could fetch that from the magazine,
say at mid-day, and carry only what was required into
the mine. Where the men are there is a lot of powder in
the mine that should n^t be there.

25812. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) You are not allowed, under
the Explosives Order, to store powder in a mine 7 — ^They
take it in during the shifts, and if 80 places have five pounds
each there would be a lot In the mine.

25813. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) They might leave that for
the next shift 7 — ^They might leave some.

25814. If supplied at the ooUiery it would not be down 7
— It would not be down the pit practically one-third -of
the time.

25816. (Mr, SmiUie.) The brattice man you call in some
places the roadsman or assistant P — ^We call them brattice

25816. They do timbering and redding, and other work
under the supervision of the fireman 7 — Not in Qlamotgan-

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 54 of 177)