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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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petency, then the manager would say : " This person held
a certificate of competency, which was a proof to me that
he was a competent person 7 — I would not personally say
that it was all the duties of an employer towards appointing
a winder. Although he has a certificate he ought to find
out that that man is a practical man as well.

28657. I quite agree with you. It is the duty of a
manager in ms own interest, I suppose, to make sure that
the person whom he has appointed is thoroughly qualified
and has practical experience 7 — Quite so.

28658. That is quite natural. I wanted to find out
really where the responsibility of the manager lay.
Supposing six men are killed through an over-winding
accident, and it is proved in Court that the engine-winder
has not had sufficient experience to justify him in claiming
to be a competent person, the manager who appointed^
him goes to Court and says so far as he knew he was a
competent person. Does not his responsibihty rest there 7
— It rests there.

28659. He cannot be in any way prosecuted if he has
taken all reasonable means to prove that he is a competent
person 7 — That is so.

28660. Consequently his responsibihty is not nearly
so great as the responsibility of the person appointed 7 —
That is the point.

28661. I wanted to make that clear 7 — And I may go
further ; I find that some of them very often take a man

W. Eopkiiif.

6 No^l907.

28662. (Mr. Cunynghame.) Some of whom 7 — That the
managers very oft^ prefer taking a man on who has a
reference from another colliery, who has been winding
before simply in preference to their own men who have
practised, so that if an accident happened they would
say : " I had a reference from this man, and as far as I
knew he was a practical and capable man." That is
easier for them sometimes than training their own men,
men they knew from their boyhood. I think that is
one of the reasons some take that course more than others.

28663-6. (Mr. Smillie.) With regard to your point as to
the examination of engines and boilers, I am going to refer
to the Bristol and Somerset, Monmouthshire and Forest of
Dean Rules. Rule 58 says the enginemen or other com-
petent person appointed for the purpose shall see that the
boilers ordinarily in work are regularly and properly
attended to and cleaned not less than once in every three
months 7 — I have not got that.

28667. Is that the rule in your district at the present
time 7 — No, we have not that in our rules.

28668. Would it be satisfactory if you had that 7 —
Yes, I think that would meet the case.

28669. Let me call your attention to that : "The engine-
man or other competent person appointed.'' If that were
in the hands of the engineman to make sure that a periodical
and regular examination at least once in every three months
was made, that would be satisfactory, if the engine-winder
had the power to do so 7 — ^What I feel is that too much is
placed on the shoulder of the engineman under whom he
is employed. I betieve that an independent person

32 1

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W. Hopkins,

6 No0907,

periodically iDspecting the whole of the machinery depart-
ment should be the person to say so. The difficulty would
be for the engineman to dictate to the manager how often
they had to clean their boilers.

28670. This rule says that once at least in three months
it must be done. That is Rule 58. It says an engineman
or other competent person shall have power to see that
certain things are done. I want to ask you something
with regard to that. Would you rather have a person
appointed on behalf of the Government to make a periodical
examination t — Yes.

28671. Is that a cursory outside examination of the
boilers, or is it a thorough examination of a boiler when
it is blown off and cleaned ? — What I suggest is that there
should be an examination by this person apart from what
is done by the person appointed on the particular colliery.

28672. The examination of a boiler might be made from
the outside, as it were, and there might be failures which
could not be discovered unless the boiler was blown off,
emptied, and cleaned ? — Yes.

28673. Do you merely mean a periodic monthly or
quarterly examination of the outside appearance ? — ^No,
the inside appearance.

28674. It would mean that the boilers would require
to be blown off and cleaned out ? — Yes.

28675. You think that should be done by a person
appointed by Government, once a month ? — ^That is so.

28676. That is your opinion ? — ^I should like to correct
that, so far as once a month is concerned : that might be
more often than necessary. If the man went round once
in three months it would be sufficient for him to decide
how often those boilers had to go out.

28677. That is m the interests of safety ?— That is all.

28678. I suppose your own opinion is that boilers might
be allowed to go on until they became absolutely dangerous?

28679. An engine- winder might not know of the existing
danger because of want of a thorough examination ? — In
our district there are many instances where engine-winders
db not see into the boilers at all. It does not come within
their province. It depends entirely on the boiler feeder,
or the stoker.

28680. So that they might not be aware of any dangers
there ?— Yes.

28681. You admit an eight hours' working day is desirable
for all persons employed in any class of engines or boilers
in or about a c^lfiery ? — ^I do.

28682. This Ommission is chiefly concerned with acci-
dents, and the safety of underground workers and those
employtsd in and about a mine ? — I quite understand that.

28683. Mr. Abraham and I meantime are chiefly con-
cerned with persons who raise and lower workmen. It
does not apply generally in Wales, but do you think that
long hours for engine-winders in collieries tends to want
of safety ? — ^I do believe that.

28684. You, yourself, have had considerable experience
as a winding-engineman ? — I have.

28685. From your own experience, and from what you
have learned from your fellows, it is an increasing source
of dangei- for men to be employed as engine-winders for
long hours ? — Quite so.

28686. Extended hours ?— Yes.

28687. You believe it would tend to safety underground
if the hours generally of engine-winders were limited to
eight per day ? — ^Yes, apart from any quantity at all.

28688. Apart from any quantity of material wound ? —
Apart from any quantity at all of coal raised.

28689. You have in South Wales perhaps 60 or 75 per
cent, of the engine-winders whose hours are limited to
eight per day, because of the fact that they wind 300 tons
per day ? — That is so.

28690. An engine-winder may only wind 150 tons per
•day, but he may have other duties in addition to the
winding which may be his ordinary duties, as if he was
winding the 300 tons ? — There are some instances in that

28691. (Mr, Cunynghame.) There are some mines in
which a man only winds 150 tons T — Yes.

28692. (Mr, SmiUie.) My point is that in Wales, by
mutual agreement, they have agreed that eight hours
Are the hours for engine-winders where the output in a

shift \b over 300 tons ? — May I be allowed to say one thing
further : there are instances where the employers do not
carry that out.

28693. Then they are not carrying out the agreement T —
So far as I read it out to you this morning.

28694. Is that 300 tons of coal ?— We daim 300 tons
gross : 300 tons of coal raised from the pit. The employers
are endeavouring to explain that it should be 300 tons of
large coal.

28695. Supposing an engine-winder raises 250 tons of
coal and may require to "wind 100 tons of foreign matter
altogether, stones and so on, would that count as 300 tons ?
—Not at all.

28696. An engine-winder might require to wind 500
tons of water in his shift, and he would not come under this
rule, 300 tons of coal ? — Quite so.

28697. It would be almost as difficult work to wind
water or stones as it is to wind coal ? — Yes.

B. There is not any difference so far as the engine-
winder is concerned ? — Not at all.

28699. Your rule confines it to 300 tons of coal, and an
effort has been made to confine it to 300 tons of round
coal 1 — That is right.

28700. That is entirely a matter between the employers
and yourselves of course, in the meantime ? — Yes.

28701. I want to come back to my point, an engine-
winder can wind 150 or 200 tons of coal from the pit, and
might be performing other duties when he was not winding.
He might be attending to a haulage engine, or some other
engine, in his spare time ? — We have some doing that, but
they are very few.

28702. In some districts you mentioned it was pretty
common ? — In some districts in Monmouthshire. I can-
not say it ia very common.

28703. You only speak for South Wales ?— Yes, and
Monmouthshi re.

28704. In a case of that kind, you hold it is as necessaiy
for an engine-winder to have eight hours whether he is
winding 300 tons of coal or more ? — ^That is so.

28705. Running the risk of repeating myself, I want to
be clear what your position is with regard to certificates
for engine-winders. You feel, and your people feel, that
no m<inagor should have the right to come in at any time
and dictate to an engine-winder as to whom he should
teach that particular trade T — We as enginemen claim, if
we object to the man, that we should have that right.

28706. That you should have the right to object ? — Yes.

28707. The manager of the colliery would have the right,
as manager, to use the engines for the purposes of teaching
a person when the engine-winder was not there at all ? —
Quite so.

28708. He always possesses that right ? — ^Yes.

28709. The engines are under his charge when the engine-
winder is not there ? — Yes.

28710. He would be entitled to teach a person ? —

28711. I suppose the majority of colliery managers are
capable of working a winding-engine, not for a regular
thing, but capable of winding, I suppose ? — I do not Imow,
but I should say a large number of managers are capable
of winding.

28712. Do you know some colliery managers who could
wind a cage up and down ? — Yes.

28713. Who are engineers in addition to being colliery
managers ? — Yes.

28714. Neither the engine- winders nor the Engine-
winders' Association would think of dictating and saying
" You are not entitled to come to the engine-house when
we are not here and teach a person ? '' — ^They have never
objected in that way that I know of.

28715. Mr. Abraham and I want especially to be clear
of this : your chief desire is to produce a class of engine -
winders who will secure the greatest possible safety to the
persons working underground ? — That is so.

28716. Your Association as a Trades Union takes con-
siderable pains to make sure that only steady competent
persons will be taught by your Association ? — ^That is
right, and I think that we are emphasizing the point that
has just been dealt with, that we are striving for safety,
otherwise we would not advocate certificates of competency

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ioT the men. Take that case that has heen raised between
the men and the management. Supposing that certificatee
were in force then, that man could not have gone into the
•engine-house. Can you see the point ?

28717. Yes, he could not have had a certificate? — That
is ri^t, if he had not passed his certificate of course.

28718. (Mr. Batdiffe Ellis,) He would have got a cer-
tificate if the law came into operation as to service ? —
This man was a pumping engineman before he went to
winding. Under the proposed certificates this man
wouldhave to hold a first-class certificate.

28719. (Mr, SmtUie.) Would it have been possible for
the person whom you allege was guilty of this over- winding
accident to have secured a certificate of competency if he
«tood an examination ? — I do not allege that he was guilty
of over- winding.

28720. You say an overwinding accident took place
at a different pit where the manager put in a different
man ? — It is another place.

28721. Is that the case in which this person had only
■attended to a pumping engine before ? — Yes.

28722. Had he been taught a winding-engine ? — ^No.
He was apprenticed for it.

28723. He would have taken a certificate by examina-
tion ? — I do not believe so.

28724. Is there anything at the present time to prevent
colliery managers in the event of a strike taking place, or
a lockout of Sie engine-winders in South Wales, starting
generally incompetent persons as engine-winders ? Tnere
is nothing to prevent them: they can put anyone in.

28725. Except the provisions of the Mines Act which
says " competent persons " ? — That is right.

28726. A manager may satisfy himself that a person
is competent by asking whether or not he has been an
engine-winder previously ? — ^That is so.

28727. The only responsibility is that he requires to say :
'* I did my best to find out whether he was a competent
jperson " ?— That is so.

28728. He does not require to a^k for a certificate as to
whether or not he was really a competent eiieine- winder ?
— He has not at the present time. I should like to add
something as to the necessity for eight-hours' shift for
winding-enginemen because of the responsibility of their
duties. I say that there are other enginemen whose duties
are very responsible, and that 12 hours is too long for i^em
to be on duty. I refer to the fan enginemen. In our
district we have collieries where there are about 1,000,
1,200 more or less, of men working underground, and they
depend upon the ventilation of that coUiery and upon
the engine working properly, and according to the rules
they state *' as far as enginemen are concerned." I main-
tain that 12 hours is too long, and especially the 24 from
Sunday morning until Monday morning in that engine-

28729. (Mr, BaicUffe EUis,) That is when the change
takes place Y—Yes, the change of shifts. ShaU I just
put it in this way. The coarse of working at present
is this : a man starts on Monday morning from 7 to 6,

and follows up that routine until Saturday: he works
7 to 2. Then on the Sunday, from 7 Sunday morning
until 7 Monday morning, that is 24 hours on a
shift. The men on the night shift then work from
5 until. 7 the next morning, 14 hours on the Monday
night, Tuesday night, and the following Saturday night
he starts at 2 and works until 7 Sunday morning, when
the man comes to change lum. I say that those hours
are much too long for any m%n to be in charge of those
engines. I m^y emphasis my point by saying recently,
owing to a mvx giving way to nature, falling asleep, the
magistrates at Aberavon felt so strongly about the safety
of the m^n, that they thought it advisable that the m%n
should get a month's imprisonm3nt. They saw the onus
was so great, and the management, when they gave evi-
dence before the Police Court, said the lives of those men
in the colliery are dependent upon the safe working of the
machinery on the surface. If that is so, I beg to point
out surely 12 hours is too long for those men to be on duty.
That is my point so far as the other classes of enginemen
are concerned. The same would apply to boilers. The
fact in some portion of the coal-field eight hours very
nearly is general, shows that what we are putting forward
is onl^ a fair and reasonable point. Those employers feel
that it is necessary that these men should work eight
hours : hence they are employing the three m^n during
the 24 hours' shift and during the week. I hope that the
Commission will see that this matter is deserving of
attention. That is my point with regard to those other

Will you allow me to say, further, that so far as these
men are concerned, even as to their own safety, it must
be noticed that they are working 84 hours per week, and
allowing them time to reach home to change, to have food,
and to go back, these men have only, out of the 168 hours
in a week, 63 hours as it were for rest, even if they go from
work to bed and from bed to work.

28730. That is when they are on the night shift ?— I
am taking it now that they are working 12 hours, not 10
hours, by day, and 14 by night — ^that you divide that
evenly : those hours, as you see, will take ail their time.

28731. (Mr, RcUcUffe Ellis,) You have been an engineman
yourself, I understand ? — ^Yes.

28732. I suppose, speaking as an engineman, when you
worked these hours you did not feel quite equal to your
job at the end of your time ? — ^That is what we feel.

28733. That is what your view was, speaking for your-
self ?— Yes.

28734. It has been said that these new engines, larger
engines, put a greater strain upon the men: but there
are mechanical contrivances which enable a m^n to control
the engine much better than he used to be able to, are
there not 7 — But the speed at which they are working at
present brings the strain very much upon them. Collieries
now very often are raising 1,500 tons or 1,600 tons of coal
per day.

28735. There are, of course, more mechanical contri-
vances attaching to the engines than there used to be,
which enable the engine-winder to have more control of
an engine. But you think notwithstanding that, that the
strain of these long shifts is too great upon a man ? — ^That
is my opinion.



6 Nov., 190 7

Mr. Thomas Jonss called and examined.

28736. (Mr. Cunynghame.) You act on behalf of the
South Wales Windlng-Enginemen's Association ?->Ye8.

28737. What are you ?— General Secretary.

28738. Have you been a winder in your time ? — ^Yes.

28739. For how many years did you wind an engine ? —
20 years.

28740. You are, I think, in favour of some improvement
in the sanitary condition of engine-houses ? — Yes.

28741. What do you want done ?— -To have them
thoroughly cleaned out, the walls whitewashed or painted,
and do away with all filth that would be left to be accumu-
lated inside the engine-house.

28742. What objects would be attained by that ?— We
. are of opinion that it will be healthier for us as enginemen.

28743. You say that there should be a lavatory in engine-
houses ? — ^Yes.

28744. Do you mean a W.C. ?— A W.C.

28745. You do not mean hand-washing things ? — No.

28746. You want also exits and egresses in winding-
engine houses ? — ^Yes.

28747. Will you explain that, please ?— Supposing, for
instance, this room is an engine-room, there should be a
door to come inside there, and this one is to go out by :
that is what I should term an ingress and egress.

28748. You are in favour of eight hours for all winding-
enginemen ?— Yes.

28749. You heard the evidence which the last witn<M8,
Mr. Hopkins, gave ? — Yes.


T. Jones.

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T, J(m€8,

6 No^l907.

28760. Have you anything to add to what he said 7
Do you wish to disagree with it, or to supplement it in
any way t — I have nothing more to say than what he has
just told you.

28751. That represents fully your view, does it ?^— Yes,

28752. Then I think I need not ask you to repeat the
evidence further than to say that you agree with it ? —
Quite so.

28753. You want, I think, adequate brakes on winding
engines ? — Yes.

28754. Is it the case that there are not adequate brakes
at present 7 — From our point of view, what we define as
being an adequate brake, is that in a single cage in a shaft,
that is assuming that you were changmg the rope, you
would only have the weight of one cage then : that is what
we say is a proper definition of an aidequate brake — ^that
it will hold that cage down in the shaft.

28755. There is a rule in the Act of Parliament for all
Great Britain which 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 " : and then it says " K the drum is not on the
crank shaft, there shall be an adequate brake on the dnun
shaft." If that rule was carried out, would that satisfy
you, or would not that be enough 7 — Yes — if that is a
proper definition from our point of view of an adequate

28756. It says that there shall be an adequate brake 7 —
Yes ; of course if that is a proper definition of it, and if
it complies with our requirements, we are quite agreeable
to it 7

28757. You think, in fact, that some of the brakes used
are not what ought to be called adequate brakes 7 — Quite


28758. But that would be rather a matter for carrying
out the law that exists than a question of altering the law,
would it not 7 — Quite so.

28759. Now you have something to say upon separators 7

28760. What are they for — separating the water from
the steam 7 — ^No, separating all foreign matter so as to
prevent it going inside into the engine : that is, supposing
for instance some waste, or a wooden wedge, or an iron
wedge, or a rubber has been left in the pipes after the
surface craftsman has been doing a joint the previous day,
or on any day so far as that goes, when they do that it is
possible, through forgetfulness, that those things are left
inside the pipe. Then, when the steam is turned on that
matter is carried into the throttle valve, first of all:
then it catches under the throttle valve and cannot pass

28761. What is the separator — a kind of sieve or gauze
thing 7— Yes.

28762. Might there not be a danger that the separator
would get choked itself 7 — It is possible, but to meet that
difiiculty I say that they should be examined and cleaned.

28763. Are separators used on a number of engines at

r resent 7 — Yes, they are used in some of them, I know :
could not say as to every one.

28764. Your Association represents that it would be
better to have them on all 7:-Certainly.

28765. Now as to stop- valves : would you tell us what
a stop valve is, and what you wish to be done with regard
to it 7 — A stop valve is a valve which you can put down
to prevent steam going into the engine through the steam

28766. But there must be a stop valve then to every
engine, must there not 7 — On the steam pipes : we require
that stop valves should be in the near reach of the engine-
man on duty.

28767. You mean that the stop valve should be within
the reach of the engineman on duty : that is your point 7

28768. And in some oases that is not so 7— Just so.

28769. {Mr, Wm. Abraham.) That is so in many cases,
is it not — in the majority of cases 7 — ^Yes, in the majority.

28770. {Mr. Cunynghame,) It is not now, but it ought
to be, in your view, in every case within reach of the engine-
man on duty 7 — Yes.

28771. What have you to say «bout indicators 7 First
I will read to you Rule 30, which says : "A proper indi-
cator (in addition to any mark on the rope) showing to the
person who works the machine the position of the cage or
tub in the shaft " 7— Yes.

28772. I gather that you think that is not quite enough ;
you want something more than that 7 — Yes. We, as
practical enginemen, cannot say exactly which is a proper
one. Of course so many enginemen have grown up with
their particular indicators, and from our point of view
we cannot say which is the best. But wherever a dial
indicator is upon any one engine, we should insist that the
pin or hands should not over-lap.

28773. That is the particular point which you wish
to emphasize with regard to indicators 7 — Yes.

28774. Then you say that speaking tubes should be
aid from the banksman to the engine-house 7 — ^Yes.

28775. Do you mean from the banksman outside on
the top 7 — At the pit-head.

28776. There should be a speaking-tube 7— Yes.

28777. But in many cases he can speak and be heard
without a tube, can he not 7 — ^Yes, in many cases, but not
in all.

28778. Then you would mean, I suppose, that where
he could not be heard — where the distance was too great —
a speaking tube should be provided 7 — Quite so.

28779. Have you known of any accidents or incon-
veniences happening from the want of a speaking-tube,
or has your Association known of any 7 — ^Not exactl;^ of
an accident to life and limb — ^you could not say that — ^but
from our point of view there are many things going on at

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