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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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also that some effective steps be adopted to put an end
to the system of " tipping " hauliers by colliers, as I
think this is a fruitful source indirectly of accidents in
some collieries.

(11) Home Office Examinations. — The present system of
Home Office examinations for certificates of competency
of managers or under-managers should be improved.
Greater imiformity in the standard of requirements is
desirable. The examiners should be changed periodically.
Mining engineers who receive premiums from articled
pupils should not be members of the Boards of
Examiners, examining such pupils for certificates under
the Home Office.

(12) Appointment of Inspectors. — I would respectfully
suggest that some better plan than that in operation
at present be adopted for the appointment of inspectors.
The present system causes dissatisfaction, and gentlemen
holding the position cannot expect that respect from
colliery officials that they would receive if their appoint,
ments were made under a better system.


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'■ (13) i4 Knowledge of Welsh desirable for South Waks, -

j The inspector, too, should have a speaking knowledge of

the language generally used by the workmen in the mines,

and by their deputations ; e.g., no inspector should be

, appointed to the South Wales district who does not

thoroughly understand Welsh.

The number of inspectors, too, should be increased
ae to make the inspection of the mines " thorough " ;
but their visits should not be such as to make them
jointly responsible with the manager for the workirqg of
the mine. At present the inspection is not in all cases

26659. {Chairman.) I propose to begin towards the end
of your statement and deal with the suggestions you make
with regard to safety. You are, I think, the author of a
book entitled " Olhery Accidents : Cause and Preven-
tion " ?— Yes.

26660. The book consists of various lectures you have
delivered ? — Yes.

26661. You say with regard to the collieiy fireman, that
you strongly urge upon the Commissionei'S the desirability
of recommending that aiTangements be made whereby
these officials should pay greater attention to the actual
supervision of the miners when at work, and you believe
that more thorough and effective supei-vision would
quickly effect a reduction in the number of accidents,
and tnat a shift of 12 hours and upwards for these men is
too long, and then you hand in your returns. We should
like to hear your views upon that P — I have the actual
returns here, should either of them be questioned.

26662-4. You have the returuB in your book? — Yes.
I have the names of the x)eople who made the returns in
each case, and the names of the collieries.

26665. You say that they should pay greater attention
to the supervision of the miners at work. Do you mean
that should be their only work, and that they should not
be required to do any other work ? — 1 think they can do
other work as well as supervise the operations of the men.
But what I want them to do is to attend more to ventilation
than to rubbish trams, more to firedamp than the time
taken by men to fill repair roads. I think if that wore
done there would be a very considerable reduction in the
number of accidents, and that speedily.

26666. You mean that now they do not attend to their
chief duties as much as they ought. Although it is well
to attend to the general working of the mine and see
that the men fill the trams quickly, or that they are moved
quickly, which has nothing to do, or little to do, with
accidents, their main duty should be to guard the men
against accidents, and they should only do these other
things when thera is plenty of time to spare from their
duties ? — I believe their time would be so occupied in
attending to safety that they would have but little time
to spare.

26667. Would it not be batter to say at once that the
fireman should only attend to duties in connection with
safety, and that other people should look after the manage-
ment of the mine in other respects ? — Yes. I believe the
overman and under-managers would have enough work in
looking after the general traffic and business part, and that
the firemen have enough to do in looking after the real
safety of the mine.

26668. Although there may be occasions when firemen
might have time to attend to the general working of the
mine, still it should be understood that his business is to
look after safety and do nothing else ? — Yes, I would tie
the examiner down to that work appertaining to the safe-
guarding of the workers' lives.

26669. Do you think that as a rule the firemen's districts
are too large ? — Judging by the reports which I have
compiled, they are considerably too large, especially when
they have to carry round in the morning two safety lamps,
a staff, an electric battery, a cable, and then have to stand
and examine for firedamp a hole which may be 10, 12 or
13 feet in height.

26670. The shift of 12 hours is too long ?— Yes, because
I do not think they can be mentally alert for such a long
time in the polluted air of the mme and the numerous
occupations in which they are engaged.

26671. Do you suggest an eight hours' shift ? — I do not
suggest eight hours any more than seven or nine, but I
thmk that the shift should be so reduced as to make the
work thoroughly efficient.

26672. You think a seven to nine hours' shift would be
about as much as they could do *? — On an average I think
if they work well and hard, and carry out Sie duties



apportioned to them for eight hours, that they would be -Iff. Henry
mentally and physically exhausted. Davtes.

26673. You further think that they should pass a 10 July, 1907
Government examination. What examination wowdd you I — *-
suggest ? — I would not make it an examination like the '
under-managers', but where rules appertaining to ambu-
lance, ventilation, management of air currents, registering
of firedamp, and things of that kind, would be the special

26674. You would have a special examination: you
would not think it necessary to pass a second-class manager's
examination ? — No. I think the second-class has more
to do with the business side now than the safety side. I
would make this examination to bear more on safety than
the general management of the mine.

26675. You think second-class certificate men might
pass and not be efficient firemen. They might not know
sufficient about various matters that you deal with here
to attend properly to the question of safety ? — Yes.

26676. The second-class certificate compels you to know
something about ventilation ? — Yes. A man at present
may sit for the second-class and pass with experience only
fit for any colliery giving off carbon dioxide gas, and yet
be appointed to a colliery giving off firedamp ; he might
pass an examination dealing with gas which he would
never see in the future and had not seen in the past.

26677. Have you come across a considerable number
of firemen not competent to perform their duties properly ?
— I have not come across one, or I would tell the manager
immediately. At a colliery near where I live a man was
Chairman of the Works Committee on Wednesday ; there
was a strike on, and on Thursday he was appointed fireman;
on the next day the strike ceased. This is an exceptional
case. The man was a very good workman, a good miners'
agent and would, as a rule, make a good official. There
are complaints of cases of that kind. I do not say that
this man was inefficient, but I say that he was Chairman
of the Works Committee one day, and the next day he
was a fireman.

26678. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) What is the Works Com-
mittee ? — A committee of workmen that has to deal with
an arrangement between the owners and the men on
matters appertaining to disputes with regard to wages,
or other matters of that kind.

26679. (Chairman.) Why should he not be a good
fireman ? — I did not say he would not be : I only say it
happened to be a coincidence that a chairman of a Works
Committee should be specially selected during strike time
to become a fireman.

26680. (Mr. Batdiffe EUis). As chairman he was telling
the colliery own3rs what to do, and so they appointed him
an official to do it ? — The next day he would tell the men
what to do. I am quoting that as a case in point, because
it proves the need of examination.

26681. (Mr. Enoch Edtvards.) It would ba a way of
breaking up the strike ? — I do not suggest that. I state
it as a fact.

26682. (Chairman.) You have had no practical ex-
perience of any accidents through a fireman not having
passed an examination ? — I have a considerable number of
reports here, and judging by the way some of them are
filled up I believe the writers should have passed an
examination dealing with the nature of firedamp.

3. Looking at those reports you say that there
are a certain number of firemen employed who are not
capable of making a proper report ? — No, I will not go so
far as that, but I think that their reports would be better
if they had been compelled to pass through a training for
an examination.

26684. Do you say that the reports are absolutely
unintelligible in many oases ? What is the objection to
them ? — They are too indefinite. There is a lack of the
trained mina : where a man writes *' some " gas or a
*' little " gas, for instance. In some districts to-day we
go to a place and an old workman will say ** They complain
about the gas now, but there is only a thimbleful. We
worked years ago with a wagonful, and there was no
complaint then." Men brought up under a system of
that sort have to be taught a great deal more as to the
value of detail, accuracy and correctness in making reports.

26635-6. With regard to ventilation, the returns should, ]
you think, be made once in every 14 days ? — Yes.

26687. Is not a record kept ? — A record is kept. There
is a record of measurements made once a month, but I


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Mr. Henry I
Daviea, I



want to have them kept when they are made once a
fortnight. Whilst they are measuring the air I want them
to measure the gas, so that we may know not only the
quantity but the quality of the air current. I want them
to measure the number of cubic feet passing at the last
working place, and I think that the percentage of gas
present at that spot should be recorded. Now they
examine for gas with a lamp that shows only 2 per cent,
whereas 1 per cent, in the presence of fine dry coal dust,
forms an explosive mixture.

20688. How do you detect 1 per cent., by having mineral
oil ? — ^No, they now use the Davy lamp, which will not
show practicaUy less than 2 per cent., whereas it is an
acknowledged fact that 1 per cent, with fine dry coal dust
forms an explosive mixture.

26689. How do you test that ?— With a Clowes' lamp.

26690. How little will that show ?— J per cent., if
necessary, or less. The Clowes' lamp is the only one I
know as being really useful.

26691. With regard to the traffic you say that haulage
should be stopped on main roads and engine planes at the
beginning or end of a shift when workmen are passing
to or from their work, unless special provision be made
for the safety of the men. What special provisions would
you suggest if you do not stop the haulage ? — A travelling
road, or a part reserved for the men to walk, where there
would be no danger of being run over.

26692. You would have a gangway ? — Yes.

26693. Always kept clear, not only at the man-holes, but
so that you could instantly step aside anywhere ? — Yes.
When I was at one of the collieries there was a wild run,
a tremendous noise and a shout ; there was not sufficient
time to search for a man-hole. We got tp the other side
of the shaft and the trams ran into the *' sump."

26694. With r^ard to colliers as hauliers, you would
recommend that special provision be made to prevent
accidents to colliers who are called upon to take the places
of absent hauliers, and also that some effective steps snould
be adopted to put an end to the system of '* tipping "
hauliers by colliers, as you think that is a fruitful source
indirectly of accidents in some places. That is the first time
I have heard of this practice. Do you mean they do it
in order to get down to the shaft quickly 7 — No. A collier
in Monmouthshire '^ pays rent " before possibly he will get
his tram in time, or a suitable supply of timber, and I hold
that that is a source of a number of accidents.

26695. Who does he pay the money to ? — ^To the haulier.
The collier pays the haulier.

26696. The haulier being the person who brings the
tram 7— He takes the tram, and in the tram frequently
there is the timber that is going to the collier.

26697. The haulier shoves the tram on to the working
face ? — He drives it by means of horses.

26698. He is the man who looks after the horses 7 —
Yes, and if he gets a tip he naturally takes to that collier
the first tram of a journey.

26699. {Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) We have an Act of Parlia-
ment ready to your hand, the Prevention of Corruption
Act 7 — I hope you will see that it is applied.

26700. (Cr airman.) That is the first time that I have
ever heard of that practice 7 — ^We want better supervision.
If we get better supervision they may have time to apply
that Act.

26701. {Mr. F. L. Davia.) Does this apply all through
Monmouthshire 7 — It applies to the colliery where I ma4e
the enquiries, and it applies to some parts of Glamorgan-
shire, too, unfortunately.

26702. I do not quite understand what it is. Will you
explain it 7 — I will tell you how it is done. In Glamorgan-
shire we have, unfortunately, in some collieries what are
called occasionally a " trump Saturday." There is a
man who divides the journey. He is the supervisor
amongst the hauliers, and he has six hauliers or less working
under him. He divides the journey and may send the
first tram to the man who has given the tip on the previous
Saturday. This man collects all the tips on the pay
Saturday, or half -pay Saturday. There is a main haulage
road, and if there is a man in a stall wanting timber who
has not paid his " rent " or given " trumps " the previous
Saturday, he may not get the timber in time, as it is taken
on to the man in the next district. This man may be
working in an exceedingly dangerous place requiring
timber, but because he didn't pay this " rent " on the
previous Saturday he has to wait for the timber.

26703. {Chairman.) Do you know that as a fact 7— Yes.

20704. You know where a flUiQ ha^ complained that ho
has had to wait for his timber because he has not paid his
rent, as he calls it 7 — Yes, but with better supervision that
would be made impossible.

26705. You recommend that special provisions should be
made to prevent accidents to colliers who are called upon
to take the places of absent hauliers 7 — ^Yes. A haulier
may be absent and a collier is called upon to take his place,
but that collier does not know the horse and the road* and
when tram gets off the road the collier tries to push it
back. There may be a sound as if everything is rignt, and
the horse starts off and the collier is bangf^ against the
side, and gets his back sprained or worse injuries.

26706. How do you suggest to remedy that 7 — I have
not a suggestion. I only want to point out that many
accidents arise from that cause.

26707. You think that people are obliged to take duties
that they are not competent to perform 7 — I am not sure if
they may be compelled. There is a dispute as to the
extent to which a collier may be compelled to take the place
of a haulier, but I know that he does occasionally.

26708. Does he get more wages 7 — As a rule a haulier
gets leas, but they make him an allowance to make up for
the difference.

26709. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) May I explain, it, or will you
explain it 7 The hauliers are erratic men, and not regular
in coming to their work. If a haulier is not there the collier
does not get trams or clearance, and cajtmot make money,
and when the hauliers do not turn up the collier takes the
haulier's place to help the other men? — ^The collier has not
always been willing to do so, and it is a question of the
extent to which he may be compelled. There has been a
case fought in South Wales as to whether a collier may
be compelled. I know when he does he frequently gets
into trouble by having his legs broken, or some other

26710. Then you suggest that some better plan than that
in operation at present should be adopted for the appoint-
ment of inspectors. Hitherto we have been told that the
Government inspectors give every satisfaction 7 — ^To
whom 7

26711. In general 7 — ^The workmen in our district do
not feel quite satisfied, and they want an increase.

26712. They are not satisfied with the present staff of
inspectors 7 — ^They are satisfied with the present in-
spectors, but they are not satisfied with the present system
of inspection. I hope you will pardon me for pointing out
the difference.

26713. You would not like to say anything against the
inspectors, naturally. You would like them to be treated
fairly, but you think that the system may be wrong,
although the men are very good men 7 — This is the system
as far as it hurts a workii^p; collier who is a good man. We
had a case where a man was put on the inspectorial staff
without any examination. He was on for 12 months, and
came up for examination at the same time as a collier who
had on^ a month's warning of the examination. I hold
that is not fair.

26714. You think that a man should be given .every
opportunity, and that he should not be called upon to go in
for an examination suddenly which he would not be able
to read up for 7 — I believe that all men should have the
same opportunities.

26716-6. How do you mean, every man should have an
opportunity ? — The matter can be arranged so as to make
a repetition of the case to which I have referred impossible.

26717. When a man is considered by the Home Office to
be a fit person to sit for this examination he should be given
ample warning of it 7 — In this particular case one man had
12 months' warning, and the other one had only a month.

26718. In those cases where the Home Office has come
to the conclusion that an applicant is a proper person
to sit for examination, you think that he should have
ample notice and should be given at least six months'
notice, or some minimum time, to work up for his examina-
tion 7 — They have at the Home Office quite a long list of
candidates who have been nominated, and all those
candidates who are considered qualified ought to have
the same warning as to the date of the examination.

26720-31. It might have happened in this particular case
that the Home Office had only just become cognisant that
the man was a fit and proper person. It might be said
that they had no opportunity of giving further notice than
they did. 7 — It is quite possible. All the candidates
who had been nominated and whose names were on the
accepted List could have been told at the beginning of the
12 months, like the man who was appointed provisionally.

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26732. Then you say that a knowledge of Welsh is
desirable for South Wales, and you think that no inspector
should be appointed to the South Wales district who does
not thoroughly understand the Welsh language. You
also suggest that the number of inspectors should be
increased, so as to make the inspections of the mines
thorough, but that their visits should not be such as to
make them jointly responsible with the manager for the
working of the mine, and that at present the inspection
is not in all cases effective. Then you say that a case will
be quoted to prove this. What is your case ? — A boy
within the last few months had to go 148 yards to obtain
a post underground in a mine in the borders between
Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire. In another case the
inspector was at a colliery enquiring into the cause of an
accident — an explosion ; the cause of that explosion at
the time was unknown. Possibly it might have arisen
from ignited firedamp meeting a damaged lamp, or oil on
the gauze of the lamp, and during the time the inspector
was there a number of safety lamps were brought to the
pit top on a full tub of coal, placed carelessly on the ground
and carried in the hands of boys to the lamp-room. I
hold that ike inspector should have seen tnis if the
inspection was su&ciently keen. He should have pre-
vented its repetition, because an explosion may arise from
a drop of oil on tibe gauze assisting the passage of the
flame through and so igniting firedamp.

26733. Irrespective of this particular instance that
might arise from the carelessness of an inspector, you
consider that the districts are too big ? — ^Yes.

26734. You think that they ought to be sub-divided.
Do you suggest that you should have double the number
of inspectors or how many ? — I would not like to suggest
the exact number. I suggest that they should be so
increased as to make inspection thoroughly efficient and
make a repetition of what I heard on Saturday last im-
possible. A case was quoted where a colHery official had
not seen the chief mines inspector for five years. That
was at a large colHery.

26735. We find from the statistics that the inspectors
do go down every mine in their district, or very nearly
every mine in their district, once a year.

(Mr. Batcliffe Ellis.) He says the chief inspector.

26736. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Had he no accidents
during the five years ? — Yes, there were accidents there,
because that was the colliery where I found the boy who
carried the post 148 yards. The boy thought that he had
walked 200 yards to bring this post, but the distance was
measured and found to be 148 yards ; but I can easily
understand a boy carrying a 6 ft. post thinking it was
200 yards.

26737. (Mr. RatcUffe Ellis.) What has that to do with
the inspectors ? — If the timber had been placed in a
convenient position and easily accessible to the collier,
the lad would not have had to walk that distance.

26738. What has the inspector to do with that ?— He
has to see that the timber is placed in a convenient position,
or report the officials who are guilty.

26739. Are you speaking of the Government inspector 7

26740. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) How many inspectors do you
propose to have in order to see that the timber in each
man's place is in a convenient position T — I simply say if
inspection is necessary at all it is advisable that it should
be efficient.

I 26741. (Chairman.) Do you suggest that mines ought
■ to be inspected underground by every inspector or assistant
. inspector more than once a year ? — Yes.
', 26742. How often do you say — twice ? — I should say
\ that it is necessary at least twice a year.

26743. (Mr. Raicliffe Ellis.) li the inspector must see
that the timber is always sufficient, he must be thero every
day ? — That does not follow. If he succeeds in bringing
the officials and men into a good habit onoe every six
months, the results will continue until he comes again.
If the timber is not conveniently placed, as an inspector
he is partly responsible, surely, for not seeing that the Act
is complied with.

26744. (Mr. Enoch Edxcards.) Do you suggest that the
inspector was there when the boy was sent for the timber ?

(Chairman.) You suggest that the inspector did not go
round the working places to see that the timber was where
it should be.

26745. (Mr. Batdiffe Ellis.) To see that it was near

enough. How is an inspector to do that ? — How is he to Mr. Henry
see that the timber is placed in a convenient position ? Davies,

26746. Yes ?->The Special Rules specify that the timber 10 July, 1907
should be placed in a convenient position. —

26747. The General Rule specifies where the timber is to
be placed. That is the duty of the manager ? — Yes, and
who is to see that the manager carries out that part of
the Act but the mines inspector 7

26748. The inspector can only give a general super-
vision ? — Yes.

26749. He cannot be responsible if the timber is not on
a particular day within 100 yards of the place where it
ought to be ? — The mines inspectors are appointed to see
that the Coal Mines Act is efficiently complied with, and

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 65 of 177)