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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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This is a concrete instance of how you would apply your
power ; you claim to appoint a man ; you have no re-
sponsibility, and you leave the responsibility to the man
you will not let appoint the winder ? — ^The management
had appointed this man.

28530. We will deal with the abstract question first,
before we go into detail. What is your suggestion now ;
do you say you should leave the manager responsible,
but not allow him to appoint the engine-winder — that
the man must be appointed by the Engine-winders' Union
who have no responsibility ? — We say we have allowed
the management to make the appointment.

28531. In this particular case. We know what the
facts were there ? — ^We have allowed the management to

28532. You do not propose to give me any answer
to my question with reference to this particular case ?
Once more I put it to you : in this case you required that
your man must be appointed, and not the manager's
man. You agree that the manager is the responsible
person, and that you have no responsibility. Do you
suggest that it is in the interests of safety that the manager
should bo left responsible, but that the engine-winder
should be appointed by an irresponsible authority ? —
No, I do not think so.

28533. That is what you wanted to do here ?— No,
we did not.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is not correct.

(Chairman.) A certain member of a Trades Union
wanted to. The witness does not agree with the attitude
taken up by the particular persons who acted thus.

28534. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) Do you disagree with the
attitude taken up at that time, that is, a threat to bring
out the whole of the men and stop the colliery unless their
particular man, the next man in order, was selected as
the winding-engineman — do you disagree with the action
that was taken there ? — Not exactly in the way they
put it.

28535. Do you disagree with the action that was taken
as described in this question ? — I advised the men not to
press their opinion.

28536. You disagreed with the action that was taken ?
—That is it.

28537. Is it a fact that the man who was appointed, I
namely, the man the men said must be appointed, had '
an overwind in the course of a few days after he was .
there ? — That is the point I want to come to. I knew
nothing about that case until I saw it here.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is not a fact. *


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29538. (Mr. Batdiffe Ellis.) He says he did not know
anything about it until he saw it here. — Yes.

28539. {Chairman.) You do not know ; you have not
made inquiries ? — ^I have made inquiries since I saw it

28640. (Mr. JRatcliffe EUis.) You say you never knew
there had been an overwind until you saw it here ? —
Not at all.

28541. Since you have seen it here have you inquired
about it ? — I have made inquiries.

28542. You can hear nothing about it ? — I went to see
the men to see whether this was correct, and this man
had not had the charge of the engine. He was an ap-
prentice, and it appears an accident happened when he
was there as an apprentice.

28543. (Mr. WiUiam Abraham.) He was not in charge of
the engine when the accident occurred ? — ^No ; that is the
information I received.

28544. (Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) Your information is that
the winding man appointed by the Engine-winders' Union
was not in charge when there was an overwinding ? —
This man was appointed by the management.

(Chairman.) What I understand him to say is that
this man did make a mistake in winding while an

28545. (Mr. EatcHffe EUis.) The question that is put is
this. It is No. 8319 : ' * And they had an overwind in the
course of the first few days this man was there. Do you
remember that ? " I understand the witness to say although
this new man was nominally in charge at the time of the
overwinding, he was not in charge of the engine, but
that an apprentice was ? — Yes.

28546. The inspector was not informed of that, evi-
dently ? — ^Evidently, so far as I see here.

28547. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Will you put this right
before you go further ? Whatever happened did not
happen in the hands of the man you wanted appointed ?

28548. (iff. Ratcliffe EUis.) Who told you it did not
happen in the hands of the man you wanted appointed ?
— Because you are mixing up two disputes.

. 28549. That does not answer my question. Who gave
you the information you have yist given to the Commission
that it was not this man who was appointed at the instance
of your Union who caused the overwinding. You have
made inquiries ? — Yes.

28550. Who has told you that it was not this man 7

28551. (Chairman.) What inquiries did you make ?
— I went to the pit and inquired from the men as to how
that accident happened.

28552. (Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) What man gave you
that information ?-r-He is worlong in the colliery.

28553. This is a question affecting the engine-house ?

28554. How do you know at the time of the over-
winding that the engine^winder proper was not in the
engine-house ? — ^He was in the engine-house at the time.

28555-6. Why do you say he was not responsible for the
overwind ? — I say that it was the apprentice, the man
practising, who was at the engine at the time ; the other
man was in the engine-house.

(Mr. SmiUie.) It was given in evidence that because
he was incompetent an accident took place. He might be
in the engine-house and have charge, but it was not
because of his incompetency if the witness is correct.

(The Witness.) Is that matter perfectly clear now ?

(Mr. SmiUie.) You will have an opportunity of clearing
that up with Mr. Abraham. I think it is necessary that
it should be absolutely clear.

28557. (Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) You say that periodical
inspection of all colUery engines and boilers should be
made by an inspector appointed for such specific work
by His Majesty^s Government. Is this an inspector to
be appointed solely for this purpose, or would you give
instructions to the Inspectors of Mines that they should
make an inspection of these engines and boilers ? — I would
suggest a special inspector for this class of work.

28558. Is it to be merely for mines or generally ? — I
am here to-day looking after the interest of mines.

28559. Your suggestion is that there should be a person
appointed to inspect engines and boilers in mines ? — That
is so.

28560. Your difficulty, as I understand, with reference
to boilers is that they are not cleaned out sufficiently often ?
— ^That is so.

28561. In some Special Rules there is a provision made,
I think. In the Lancashire Rules there is this Special
Rule ; it is No. 91 : " After the cleaning of any boiler he
shall examine it externally and also the mountings. He
shall also see that it is examined internally by the person
appointed. No boiler shall again be set to work unless
so examined and passed.'' If that rule was carried out,
and there is a person appointed at the colliery to examine
the interior oi the boilers, would not that meet your
objection ? — If a person is appointed at the colliery ?

28562. Yes, a person appointed at the colliery to ex-
amine the interior of the boilers, and that he did make that
examination ? — ^I may say that at present the responsi-
bility is placed perhaps upon the foreman of the colliery,
but I should say that there ought to be a person appointed
by the Government to go round these boilers periodically.

28563. Why should not the Inspector of Mines, who is
appointed see that this is done ? — If he finds that he can
do it, but I thought a special man for this particular pur-
pose, perhaps, would have a better opportunity of doing this
class of work more particularly.

28564. There are many sources of danger about a col-
liery. Why do you select boilers to be under some part
ticular inspector ? Would you also have an inspector
detailed to look after other things at the colliery ? — I am
putting this under the engineering department, engines
sod boilers. I do not confine it to boilers alone.

28565. Engines and boilers ?— Yes.

28566. Do you think there are so many accidents in
connection with engines and boilers failing as to justify
your suggestion that some special person should be appoin-
ted to inspect them ? — I believe that another person ap-
pointed in that way would be more of a safeguard. We
are fortunate ; we have not had many accidents, I agree,
but still we think inspection of the boilers, as I have already
mentioned, should be made. In some places they clean
them periodically every month ; in other places they may
run for three or four months. This particular inspector
should then be empowered to say that they should bo
cleaned oftener, and so forth.

28567. A good deal, as you say, would depend upon the
water ? — Yes.

28568. Have you- noticed the number of accidents
arising from the explosion of the boilers ? Have you any
statistics to show how many there are ? — ^I have not any
statistics. I simply get it nrom the men that they clean
them in some places.

28569. I want your own judgment about it. Do you
think there are so many accidents arising from defective
boilers as to require some inspection of them more than there
is at the present time ? — I do think through South Wales
one man should be apx>ointed for this class of work.

28570. Do you think there are so many accidents arising
from explosions of boilers as to require, in the interests of
safety, that some inspector should be appointed whose
sole duty should bo to examine boilers ? — ^That is my

28571. How many accidents during the last five years
have arisen from boiler explosions ? — ^I am not going so
much upon the point as to the number of accidents, but
I am looking at it from the report I am having as to the
different mode and time of cleaning boilers in the various

28572. Is it not important to see whether some indica-
tion that those boilers are in such a dangerous condition
is given by the number of accidents. Do you not think
that you should have information about that before an
inspector is appointed to look after them ? — I do not know
about that, but that is my opinion.

28573. Because the men tell you so ?— Exactly.

28574. If there is an explosion in a boiler, there is a
searching enquiry made by the Board of Trade ? — Yes.

28575. Is that not sufficient ? — ^No. They simply give
a report of an accident, and we want to Iry and avoid
them. That is my point.

28576. With reference to engines, are there many
accidents arising from defective engines ? — In reference
to that point, the reason we want to make this inspection
is that there would bo no accident occurring at all. Now
it is difficult sometimes for the workmen even to detect
and point out to the management a certain defect. This
particular inspector then could do that class of work.




6 No^l907.



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Mr. 28577. Are there many defecta to be reported ? —

If. fJopkins, Perhaps it has not come to light. The information we
receive is from the workmen, that their engme is in such
a condition, and so forth, and we have to go by that, and
that is the reason we give that evidence.

28578. Have you any details of complaints made by
workmen about defective engines ?— Simply what we
have at meetings. I have not put them down in that

28579. You have no statistics to show in any way that
there are such a number of defective engines as to justify
your suggestion ? — ^No.

28580. With reference to gauze protectors, there may be
protection given without obscuring the glass. You want
to see through this glass 1 — Yes, and thicker glasses in
front of the others.

28581. They are generally adopted ? — In a large number
of places.

28582. With regard to this double exit to an engine-
house, I suppose that is to provide a means of escape
if there should be some bursting of a steam-pipe between
him and the door ? — ^That is right.

28583. That is so that he could get out of the door.
How many cases have you known of that where a man
was prevented getting out the ordinary door because a
steam pipe burst ?— So far as engine-houses are concerned
I have only mentioned one, of course.

28584. Over what number of years ? — ^That happened
two or three years ago.

28585. You have known of one case. What were the
conditions of that case ? What did happen in that par-
ticular case ? — ^The pipe burst.

28586. Was it a winding engine-house ? — Yes.

28587. On the surface ?— Yes.

28588. A pipe burst ?— Yes.

28589. Could he not get out ? — At any rate he was
scalded, and one or two deaths occurred.

28590. Did the pipe burst between him and somewhere
near the door ? Was it in consequence of not being able
to get out ? A man may be scalded by a pipe bursting.
Did the pipe bursting prevent him getting out of the door ?
— ^I am not positive of that case. I am more positive of
the Tredegar case.

28591. What case is that ? — ^Two men had gone down
to the shaft where the pipes were leaking, and there was
no place to nm, and they had to come to the pit and fell

28592. It was not in an engine-house ? — No, those
pipes were leading to that engine-house.

28593. Let me remind you : your suggestion is ' ' That
each and every engine-house, either above or below sround
where steam pipes are carried under the floor or through
such houses, shall be provided with two ways of ingress or
egress." Can you give me a case in which a man was
prevented getting out of an engine-house, who thereby
suffered an injury because a steampipe burst and pre-
vented him getting out of the ordinary exit ? — I cannot
give you a specific case.

28594. Can you give me any case ? — Without going into
particulars about it, the only thing I know is Uiat there
were two men scalded at that place.

28595. That was not in an engine-house in the Tredegar
case 1 — That was in the pits.

28596. In the case where the man was scalded in an
engine-house, you do not know whether it was because
he could not get out ? — I am not positive.

28597. Do you not think it is a drastic alteration to
suggest, because you have not known of a case, where a
man could not get out of a door, that two doors should be
provided ? — No, I do not think so. What I mean is a
uoor in the front and a door in the back.

28598. He can only go out of one door at the time,
however many doors there are. You have not known
a case where mischief happened because the man could
not get out of the one door ? — No, I cannot specify that.

28599. You think that certificates should be required
not merely by engine- winders, but by the men who attend
to any engine about the place ? You said you would
go further than the previous witness and let it apply to
•very sort of engine ? — That is so.

28600. That is your view ?— Yes.

28601. What sort of engines are there about collieries
outside winding-engines ? — There are fan engines.

28602. Donkey engines iS^nUng engines.

28603. Donkey engines ? — If you want to put them
in, yes.

28604. Is a man to ha^e a certificate for that ? — ^We
say that the men would be very much more prepared
in cases of emergency if they have certificates than if they
have not.

28605. Do you think it would make any difference
whether he had a certificate or not for an emergency ?

28606. Do vou find any difficulty now with the engine-
men, none of whom have certificates, in meeting emer-
gencies ? — I think t^ey would be more equipped.

28607. With regard to the Special Rules that you
suggest should be given — this is going rather outside your
province as representing the enginemen ? — No.

28608. You want them to be given to every workman,
I understand ? — Yes, because if it is necessary to our men
such as enginemen, stokers, etc., I think it is necessary
for all men at the colliery.

28609. Do you think it is too much to ask a man seeking
employment to applv at the office if he wants to know the
conditions under which he is to be employed ? — I will
put it in this way : when men are applying for work in
the colliery generally, they may not know that such Rules
are in existence so far as these Rules mentioned herein
are concerned. Very well : it would not be natural for
them to ask for them because they do not know they are
in existence.

28610. Do you think that there are many men working
at collieries wno do not know that there are Special Rules ?

28611. A good many?— Yes.

28612. Do you propose that they should give them back
when they leave the employment ? — Yes.

28613. Do you see any objection to this, that they
should be charged 6d., to be handed back when they
return the rules, or charged something for the rules and
handed back that money when they return the rules ? —
I suggest if they do not return the rules a certain charge
should be made.

28614. Would vou have any objection to the chaige
being returned by the coal-owner when the rules are
returned ? — The only difference between the two is, I say
charged when they pay off, and you want to put it on
before, a charge of 6d., but the man would not have
interest on it.

28615. I say he should have his 6d. back when he
returned the rules ? — I say if he did not return the rules
that amount should be kept for the rules.

28616. {Mr, Wm, Abrafiam.) As I understand, you, on ^
behalf of your organisation, do not want the power to / i
appoint enginemen at collieries ? — Certainly not. jj

28617. You do not want to remove that responsibility I
from the management 7 — Certainly not. f

28618. What you want \a that from a number of com-
petent men they should be selected in rotation ? — That
is right.

28619. The case in point was that your men wanted to
protect one of their number because they thought he was
victimised ? — Yes.

28620. Not because they wanted the power to appoint
the engineman ? — Quite so.

28621. In justice to you I think I ought to put that
right ? — Thank you very much.

28622. Taking a broad view of what you have stated
to-day, it is not so much the number of accidents that
happen in your view, but that those that have happened
could have been avoided if the amendments you now want
had been in force before ? — That is my opinion.

28623. It is more of a prevention than a cure after the
thing has taken place ? — Certainly.

28624. That is the position you are taking up ? — That is
the position we are taking up.

28625. I think there is one thing we are entitled to
clear up with regard to the point you have been pressed
upon. What is the real source of your information respectins
the man who had been accused, if you like, or a chaige had
been made against him by the inspector, that he, being
incompetent, was the cause of over-winding ? You have
investigated that case, and Mr. Ellis asked you whom

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did you see. Can you clear that point up ? — From one
of the men working on the Colliery : that is where I have
had the Information.

28626. Was that man in the engine-house ? What was
his source of information ? He might have been informed
from another man as well as you ? — I sent to ask for that
information, and I had it. It was stated that this man
was there as an apprentice, and that he had not had the
chaige of the engines at this time when this occurred.

28627. Was this apprentice under the charge of the man
accnB?d ? — I cannot say about the accusation.

28628. You know the case. It has been said after this
man had been appointed that this accident occurred while
the engine was in his hands ? — That is what I want to

28629-30. Will you explain it ?— Where the dispute
occurred was at Focnriw, about five years ago. I am coming
back to this point. The management wished to put
another man in, and that man was allowed to go in.
The man we wanted to go in has been put in since then,
and another one alFo, and they are doing their work, and
I have not heard of any accident with them. Now
to Come to this point where they have been mixing those
questions up. An engine-winder was required at the
Bedlinog pit in the same Company. The management
put that man in and this occurred, so that the men had
not been near the management in connection therewith.

28631. It was not the man they wanted that was ap-
pointed ? — The management accepted this arrangement of
putting the senior hand at the engines, and they put him
at this other pit, not at the time this unpleasantness arose
between the men and the management. This occurred
about two years ago. That is what I want to explain ; they
are not the same circumstances. I may say so far as I
know for the last 20 years it has been the custom at this
colliery of appointing senior hands if they are capable of
doing the work^ Is that perfectly clear ?

28632.'' I do not know that it is much clearer now. We
wanted definite information because, after all, here it is
a question of safety. We want definite information that
that accident did not occur in the hands of the man yon
defended? — That accident did not occur under the man
that we wanted appointed.

28633. What we would like to know is what is the source
of your information on that point, which we consider to be
a reliable source. Can you give us that ? — As regards this
information, I made inquiries from the men at the colliery,
and they know nothing about it.

28634. (Mr, Rafcliffe EUis.) I think we cannot go much
further than that if they know nothing about it ? — About
an accident \iith the man Ihcy asked to go in.

28635. (Mr. Wm, Abraham.) Does that mean it did not
happen ; that there was no accident ? — ^No accident at
the place where we were asking for the man to go in. That
is the point I want to press. This happened where the
management put the man in themselves.

28636-40. In another place ? — Yes, at another pit.

28641. (Mr. SmiUie.) Rule 24 of the Special Rules is
the rule which places the responsibility on the manager T
Of appointing a competent person to act as engine-winder ?
—That is so.

28642. It says : ' * In any mine which is usually entered
by means of machinery, a competent male person not less
than 22 3^ears of age shall be appointed for the purpose
of working the machinery " ?— That is right.

28643. I take it that that is appointed by the manager 7
— ^That is apx>ointed by the manager.

28I&44. Of course the engine-winders m an Association
would never think of taking that responsibility off the
shoulders of the manager ?— No.

28645. Mr. Ellis put it to vou that the person who has
the responsibility, which is the manager, should have the
right of appointment, and you agreed with him ? — I agreed
with him.

28646. He put it to you what responsibility had the
engine-winders, and I think you seemed to say that they
had no responsibility ? — No, so far as appointing the men.

28647. Not so far as appointing is concerned ?— That is

28648. Has the engine-winder who is appointed not
some responsibility if he makes a mistake ? Is he not
charged before the Court 7 — Quite so.

28649. To that extent he is responsible 7— He is respon-
sible in that way.

28650. If he is a member of your organisation do you
not imdertake the responsibility of defending him if you
believe he is right 7 — We do.

28651. If you believe he is not to blame you take the
responsibility of defending him 7 — Yes ; our rule states
distinctly where a man has neglected his duty, or is incom-
petent, or anything of that sort, of course he loses all

28652. Your Association is not prepared to defend a
man you believe has been negligent or incompetent 7 —
Quite so.

28653. Where does the responsibility of the manager
really come in 7 He appoints a person to be an engine-
winder who mav not be competent, and that person makes
a mistake and an over-wmding accident takes place.
Where does the responsibihty of the manager come in 7
Is it not sipiffioient for the manager to say " I believed
that this person was competent 7 " — ^That is so.

28654. So far as a Court of law is concerned 7 — So far
as a Court of law is concerned.

28655. So that his responsibility merely lies in saying :
" So far as I knew, this person was competent 7 " — Quite

28656. Supposing that person held a certificate of com-

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 82 of 177)