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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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^'inding-engineman in both the above counties ? — Yes.

28119. I understand your Union is not a Union only of
enginemen, but of firemen also ? — Yos.

28120. But to-day you speak solely as to the enginemen,
I understand ; you do not wish to toll us anytliing about
the question as to the firemen, I suppose ? — No, but we
do take all classes of enginemen and firemen in as members
of our Association.

28121. {Mr, Ratdiffe EUis,) And locomotive drivers
also ? — Yes, locomotive drivers about mines.

28122. {Chairman.) You mean firemen attached to
boilers — stokers, and so on ? — Yes.

28123. You are a member of the Executive of the
National Federation of Enginemen and Boilermen's
Association of Great Britain ? — Yea.

28124. You were in favour of the Steam Engines (Persons
in Charge) BiU, and you gave evidence in favour of it in
July, 1901, before the Select Committee ?— That is so.

28125. Your Association of the Derbyshire and Not-
tinghamshire Enginemen's and Firemen's Union embraces
nearly all the mines in those two Counties ? — Yes.

28126. You say that a great many of your winders
complain as to the fatigue they experience of being on
duty of such a very responsible nature for so many hours ?

28127. And you trust to see a legal eight-hours' day
established for all winding-enginemen ? — ^That is so.

28128. So that your evidence may be divided into two
parte : first of all, with regard to the excessive hours
which you maintain are worked by these enginemen and
winders, and secondly, as to the precautions that have
been taken for safety in winding ? — Yes.

28129. To some extent, no doubt, the two questions are
mixed up together, inasmuch as your contention, I suppose,
naturally would be that a man who works more than eight
hours a day would not be so likely to give his whole atten-
tion to his work as if he only worked shorter hours ? —
That is so ; the men get fatigued. The coal-owners in
the two Counties have recognised to a great extent the
advisability of shortening the working hours of winding-
enginemen ; indeed, at a good many collieries an eight -
hours' day is already in operation. In other instances the
coal-owners have put three men on in the 24 hours, one
man going on at six o'clock in the morning and remaining
till four in the afternoon, which is 10 hours, and then
going home ; another man goes on at eight o'clock in the
morning, takes charge for a couple of hours or an hour as
they may agree, and they work alternately an hoar or a
couple of hours as they can arrange. Then the man who
went on at eight o'clock in the morning stays till six
^o'clock in the evening, and then the other man, the third

man, goes on at six and stays till six the next morning.
But we have many complaints; these men just at the
last hour may have hundreds of men to lower do^vn into
the mine, and they contend that a legal eight-hours' day
— ^three shifte of eight hours each instead of two of 10
hours and one of 12 hours — would be much better ; indeed,
they find that they are practically exhausted ; of course,
they are not winding during all the night shift, the 12
hours ; but they are exhausted, and they contend for the
advisability of our having an eight -hours' day established
by law.

28130. I understand that where you have two shifts
of 10 hours and one of 14 hours, the men take it
in turns to go on the 14-hours' shift or on one of the 10-
hour shifte ? — Yes — ^they work it round.

28131. So that no man is compelled to go on the 14
hours' shift for any length of time ? — In some cases they
are ; the men are there from seven o'clock in the morning
till five o'clock at night, and the man is then on 14 hours
every other week where there are two men.

28132. Every other week how many days does he have
of 14 hours ? — He has one week at 10 hours and then a
week at 14 hours.

28133. Does ho have a whole week at 14 hours ? — Yes.

28 134. Then during what part of that 14 hom*s would
he be employed in winding ; how much winding goes on
during those particular days that he is employed for 14
hours ? — Different conditions exist at different collieries.
Just now they are very busy, as you are aware, the coal-
trade being sowewhat brisk, and they are winding during
a good portion of the night duty.

28135. So that it depends upon the course of trade ;
sometimes during the long sh&t of 14 hours they are
pretty continuously employed, and sometimes they would
have a certain amount of leisure ? — Yes.

28136. What amount of leisure do you suppose they
would have under ordinary circumstances ; what would
be the longest time that they would enjoy leisure during
this shift of 14 hours ? — ^Would they ever be a couple of
hours without doing any duty ? — No ; and no one is
allowed in the engine-room except themselves — ^they are
cleaning or they are packing in those intervals.

28137. They are doing something ? — Yes, such as filling
the lubricators, &c,

28138. There is no man allowed in the engine-room .
except that one man, is there ? — No one except the one I

28139-40. He is on duty for 14 hours? — Yes, for 14
hours. The man on the day shift is constantly employed
and has scarcely time to get his meals, or indeed to answer-
the calls of nature without some bother being made,
because in many cases we have not even the sanitary
requiremente in the engine-room, and the man has to
leave the engine-room and go away. We have a fan
engine-man at Grassmoor who left the engine-room to

Mr. 8. W.

6 No^l907.

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^ ' ^•' 11 answer the calls of nature, and he either had to be

^^owarth, m fined £1 or be dismissed. Of course, the man should

fi Nov 1907 11 ^^® ^®^^ someone in charge of his engine, but he

•' »v/.« ^^ ^^^ ^^ g^ J simply mention this case as an

^ illustration.

28141. How can a man manage if he has to go away
for a few minutes ? — He has to call someone else into the
engine-room — ^not a competent person necessarily.

28142. There is someone else whom he can call ? — Well,
he will just call in a stoker to see that nobody interferes
with the engine while he goes away.

28143. {Mr. Raidiffe EUis.) There is no winding going
on in his absence ? — No,

28144. It is simply that he may have somebody there
to watch and see that no one interferes ? — Yes, that is all.

28145. (Cliairman.) Have you had many accidents
which you can trace to a man being tired out and not
doing his duty properly on that accoimt ? — ^Very few indeed.
The way we do in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire is to
go throuf;h a course of training, of course, the best man
makes mistakes at times, and we have had occasions when
good men have made mistakes, but very few accidents
in this respect have taken place either in Derbyshire or
Nottinghamshire, the men being well-trained men.

28146. That I understand, but I was thinking of acci-
dents which might occur in the course of winding even if
you had the best-trained men, owing to those very well-
trained men working too long hours and consequently
getting so tired that they were unable to perform their
duty efficiently ? — They have been able to do them — they
have managed to pull through somehow.

28147. They have managed to pull through somehow
up to the present ? — Yes.

28148. You think it is a very great strain upon them ? —
Very great indeed.

28149. Do you find from the mortality statistics that
if a man has been an engine-winder for so many years
his life will be a worse life than that of an ordinary collier ?
— ^Well, no. I am speaking as on old engine-winder of
32 years' standing ; of course, a winding-engineman, when
he is in ca/e of life and property, has to be a very careful
and good-living man and has to take care of himself, and
that is the reason, I take it for granted, why the statistics
prove so well in our favour.

28160. Then you cannot point to any accidents which
have directly arisen from enginemen having worked for
too long hours ? — No, not in our district.

28151. That is during the whole 32 years of your ex-
perience ? — Yes, there was an accident long back — I
cannot remember the date, but it is several years back —
10 or 12 years back.

28152. As regards the general health oi the engine-
winder you have no reason to think that it is any worse
ihskii that of others who aro employed in mines ? — The
vitiated atmosphere of oil, tallow, &c., is something not
to be commended.

28153. I have heard that the rule in Germany is
that whenever you are winding men there shoiild always
be two men in the engine-room, but when you are winding
ooak only, it is sufficient to have one nian. Have you
considered that question yourself ? — You mean the
method in vogue in Germany ?

28154. Yes ? — ^No, I do not believe in it mj^selt. I
would rather have one engineman there because in some
instances they might take off their attention in talking
to each other, or interfering in some shape or form with
each other, and accidents might be caused.

28155. On the whole you think it is the best plan to
have one man who is solely responsible ? — Yes — for
eight hours.

28156. Working for eight hours only ? — Yes.

28157. Leaving the eight hours' point for the moment,
what have you to say on the question of giving the
men certificates? — We believe in that, of course;
ajid in giving evidence in 1001 before the Select
Committee we dealt with this mattor fully. Of
course, we have good men who do not hold certificates,
indeed, there were no certificates at the time that 1 was
winding. We believe that it would be the means of
bettering the conditions of the men if they held certificates,
and we believe it would minimise the sacrifice of human
life. It has been demonstrated, I think, as you will be
aware, by previous witnesses, that lives have been sacri-
ficed by having incompetent men in charge of steam-
engines and boilers.


28158. You, of course, are aware that the Committee
decided against your claim that the winders should hold
certificates ? — ^Yes.

28159. I suppose you have read the Report of the
Committee ? — Yes.

28160. If vou have any observations to make upon that
Report we shall be very glad to hear vour opinion ? — W&
are pressing forward again the CertiAcate Bill with this
object in view.

28161. That is verv much the same Sill, I suppose,
as the Bill which was Wore the Committee of 1901. Haa
it undergone any alteration ? — There is an alteration
there ; it is to embrace the colliery element only.

28162. To confine the necessity for the holding of cer-
tificates to colliery engine-winders ? — Yes, and stokers.

28163. Enginemen employed in collieries ? — In and
about collieries. We have had the Bill before the House
of Commons for many years, and they say that we have
loaded the vessel too heavily — ^that we had other indus-
tries included —the factory element, the marine element,
and others. Then we lopped first one off and then the
other, and now I suppose I may take it that we have
lopped five off, and we take it on these lines now — ^the
colliery element — " in and about mines."

28164. On the other hand, one of the arguments used by
the Committee was that if you had certificates at all, such
certificates ought to include " All boilers and enginea
whether worked by steam, oil, gas or electricity, no evi-
dence having been brou^t forward by those in favour of
the Bill to show why any particular class or classes of
engines or boilers should be excluded. Your Committee i
also considered that if that was the case, certificates might
with equal reason be required for persons in charge of
cranes, hoists, steam-hammers, and other similar
machinery " ? — ^Yes. I believe there will be an applica-
tion made from another source with respect to factories,
workshops, and so on.

28165. But you consider that your business is to look
after the safety of coal mines ? — Yes.

28166. And that it is for other people to consider whether
certificates might not be required outside coal mines for
similar kind of work ? — Yes, either by the Board of Trade
or some other body.

28167. Have you anything to say about the Special
Rules which are now in force, or the Rules under the Act
of Parliament to safeguard miners when they are taken
up and down in these cages ? — Yes ; we should like the
24th Rule, in the latter part of the first Clause, to read :
" In any mine which is usually entered by means of
machinery, a competent male person not less than 22
years of age shall be appointed for the purpose of working
the machinery which is employed in lowering and raising
persons therein and shall attend for that purpose during
the whole time that any person is below ground in the
mine " ; we simply wish to have a Clause inserted saying
" and shall not be on duty more than eight hours in
any case."

28168. Yes, that I understand ? — Except in case of

28169. Is there any other alteration which you can
suggest either in the Coal Mines Regulation Act or in the
Special Rules which are in force in your district, or in any
other mining district ? — Our National Federation have
dealt with these clauses ; there is one with respect to
detaching hooks.

28170. I see that Mr. Hopkins, who is going to give
evidence on behalf of the South Wales Enginemen's
Association, will suggest that " At all shafts where men
are raised or lowered safety detaching hooks or an auto-
matic apparatus for the prevention of overwinding should
be used " ?— Yes.

28171. I understand that under the present law^ there
is an alternative allowed, is there not ; you may either
have those detaching hooks, or you may not wind beyond
a certain pace ; that is General Rule 26 ? — ^Yes.

28172. You say there ought to be no such alternative,
but that in all cases there ought to be detaching hooks
used ?— Yes.

28173. I may take it that in most mines in Derbyshire
and Nottinghamshire there are detaching hooks, are there
not ? — Yes, in most of them.

28174. Have you any complaints to make as to their
working ? — ^No, they work very well indeed.

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28175. Then you consider that if the detaching hooks
f vhich are now iised in most of the mines in Derbyshire and

Nottinghamshire were universally used that would be quite
sufficient as regards that point at all events ? — Yes, we
are very much in favour of it. There are collieries in
different counties where there are no detaching hooks

28176. Then Mr. Hopkins will also suggest that " An
adequate steam and foot brake be attached to every
winding engine capable of holding — when the cage is in
any part of the shaft — any weight raised by the engine
where men are raised up or lowered down a shaft." Have
you anything to say as to the efficiency of the brakes
which are in use in your district T-r-Yes, in several instances
they get coal from two or three seams in one shaft, and
the winders there complain ; as you may be aware, when
they run heavy trams of coal in a tub or chair hanging on
to the shaft, unless you have a heavy weight to hold it
the thing will go round suddenly.

28177. Do you mean to say that in many of the mines
which you are acquainted with there is no adequate
brake ? — The men complain that the brakes are inade-
quate ; they simply hold the steam on so that they can
ieel when they are running on — they simply hold a little
steam on, and brake in that way.

28178. I suppose the question which you raise is as to
what is an adequate brake, because Rule 30 says " There
shall be attached to every machine worked by steam,
water, or mechanical power, and used for lowering or
raising persons, an adequate brake or brakes " ? — Yes —
steam and foot brake.

28179. Do you say there should be an adequate steam
or foot brake ? — Both a steam and a foot brake.

28180. You wish to have the Rule strengthened by saying
that there must be an adequate steam and foot brake ? —
Yes ; you can put the steam brake on without putting
the foot brake on, and you can put the foot brake on
without putting on the steam brake.

28181. You say there ought to be both, so that either
can be used as occasion may require ? — Just so — in case
of emergency.

28182. Then another suggestion which I understand
will be made by Mr. Hopkins is that a speaking tube should
be erected at all collieries for the purpose of communication
between banksmen and enginemen. There are many cases
where you have either a speaking-tube or a telephone, are
there not ? — No. There are many without, and you must
know that about a colliery there is such a noise with the
machinery and the screens, and the belts, and so forth,
that you cannot always hear what the banksmen do say.

28183. Then you think it ought to be compulsory that
a speaking tube should be erected for the purpose of com-
munication between the banksmen and enginemen at all
collieries ? — Yes, or some other method of signalling.

28184. {Mr. Raidiffe. EUis.) Rule 26 provides for sig-
nalling from the bottom of the shaft, but, as I understand,
you want some provision made for communication from
the top of the shaft to the engine-house ? — Yes, that is it.

28185. {CliairmanJ) Is there any further statement you
would like to make on this point ? — There are many
collieries where the winding-enginemen, especially on
night duty, are compelled to look after other engines
and other machinery, and to leave their engine-rooms
while persons are below ground in the mine. This is
what our men complain about : if they are in another
engine-room where the engine is going for the fan, or
the pump, and so on, they cannot hear the signals which
are given, and in case of emergency, an. explosion or
an inrush of water in the mine, the engineman would
be away and would not be aware of it, because at a
good many collieries there are no banksmen in charge of
the pit top ; they generally get one of the stokers to
do what little banking is required and do not have a
banksman there constantly : therefore the winding-
engineman is not always aware when any signals have
been given whilst he is away performing these other
duties, and we consider it very important that the winders
should, in accordance with the 24th Rule, remain there
and attend there during the whole time that any persons
are below in the mine.

J y 28186. Then your point is not so much that the Rule
^ I ought to be altered, as that it is not properly observed ?
I —Yes.

28187. You think that if it was properly observed it is
stringent enough ? — ^Yes.


28188. The point of its not being observed is a very
serious thing. Can you not complain to the Mines
Inspectors ? — ^We have done so occasionally, but one
does not like to make unpleasantness.

28189. What do the Mines Inspectors say ? — In two
or three instances their attention must have been called
to it, because they have put a man there on one occasion.

28190. They have put a man where ? — On the bank.

28191. But then that is not a comphanoe with this
rule, because the rule says that this person, who must
be a competent person of 22 years of age, shall attend
during the whole time that any person* is below in the mine,
so that whether there is a banksman or not he would be
bound to attend ? — Yes.

28192. Then that is a non-compliance with the rule ? —
That is so.

28193. You do not get over the rules by employing a
banksman. It may be that the danger is got over, but
the rule is infringed all the same ? — But what I should
like to point out is that the men are compelled to leave
their engine-room to attend to other duties, and in the
absence of a banksman he is not aware when any signals
are given from the pit bottom.

28194. That is so. Then I understand there are two
ways of getting over that difficulty : one is always to have
a banksman on top who would be about, and who would
communicate with the man down below, and the other
one is that the man down below should be always in his
proper place ? — Yes.

28195. But then, according to the rule, he ought to be
in his proper place ? — Yes, but he is not.

28196. (Mr. Smillie.) I think the interpretation of this
nile is wide : I think this rule is taken to allow of the
engine-winder even going into another engine-hoiise, and
the ]VIines Inspectors in some cases say that that is in
accordance with the rule. I think what you wish to say
is that this rule should be made sufficiently strong to ensure
that an engine-winder shall not be required to leave his
engine-room ? — That is so.

28197. {Chairman.) But then, supposing he has to leave
his engine-room for just five minutes, and. he calls in
another man while he is away, I suppose the other man
is competent to attend to the signals ? — ^Yes, I should
say so.

28198. {Mr. Baldifft Ellis.) There would be no winding
during his absence ? — ^No.

28199. {Chairman.) You say that the rule ought to be
strengthened by making it perfectly clear that the man
ought not to be allowed to leave his engine-room at all ? —
That is so.

28200. And that in consequence, of course, he ought
to have sanitary conveniences, and so on, so that he
should not be obliged to be away at all ? — ^Yes.

28201. Supposing there were two engines without any
dividing compartment between them, so that a man might
jEkttend to both of them, and might hear the signals that
affected both those engines, would you consider that he .
ought not to be alloi;mi to work two engines ? — There
should be partition walls between the two winding engines.

28202. Why ? — ^We have had accidents happen where
there has been no partition between the two winding
engines : we have had a man killed.

28203. How does the partition prevent an accident ? —
In one case they were changing the rope : a round rope
was on one drum and a flat rope was on the other drum,
standing back to back : there was a temporary platform
across, and these men were pulling in this round rope to
fasten it to the drum : the other rope behind was a flat
rope which went in between the horns, and as the man
pulled the rope in on to the platform the horns of the drum
behind caught hold and pulled him down between the
horns of the drum and the platform, a distance of three or
four inches, and killed him. That was at Eastwood
Collieries, Barber & Walker's collieries.

28204. In that particular case the two drums, one having
the flat rope and the other the round rope, were so near
that it was dangerous for persons to operate either
apparently ? — Yes : there should have been a wall between.
Tliere is now.

28205. There is one now in that particular case ? — Yes.

28206. But do you mean to say you think it should not
be allowed on any occasion that there should be two
winding engines without a partition between them ? — If
there were arrangements made so that the winder should

Mr. 8. W.

6 No^l907

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Mr. 8. W,


be able to manipulate the two it would not arise. Here
I do not say but that he could manipulate the two, pro-
viding the duties were not so exacting.

28207. So that you would not be altogether against the
one man manipulating two engines working in the same
room, provided the circumstances were such that he would
be sure of being able to hear and to attend to the signals
of both engines ? — It is only with respect to enabling them
to hear the signals : the complaint is that the men cannot
hear the signals while they are performing other duties
outside the engine-room.

28208. So that you mean that if two signals were going
simultaneously from' both engines, a man might get con-
fused ?— Yes.

28209. Therefore on the whole you consider it desirable
that a man should not work more than one engine. Is
that your contention or not ? You do not go so far as
that, I understand ?— Well, I say only one.

28210. You think it would be better that he should
attend only one ? — Only one.

^ 28211. And you would have that made a General Rule ?
— ^Yes. You see in some instances the winding-enginemen
are in charge of the boilers.

28212. They are in charge of the boilers as well ?— Yes.

28213. And you say that ought not to be so ?— I say
that ought not to be so.

28214. But that you ought to have a fireman in charge

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 78 of 177)