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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 86 of 177)
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— I think I have very nearly covered them.

28982. You think that one working-man inspector would
be enough to cover all the ironstone mines in your district 7
— It would be as much as he could ever possibly do ; I am
not quite sure that he could do it, but I thought I had
better not put it too little.

28983. At all events, you think a beginning might be
made by appointing one man 7 — Yes.

28984. (Mr, Wm. Ahrakam,) The great danger in your
district is because it is an ironstone cOstrict, which is quite
different to a coal-mining district 7 Altogether different.

28985. The danger arises from the fact that you have
to use so much powder, about ( lb. to every ton of stone, I
think you said 7 — I should think it is nearly that amount.

28986. And that is in itself a great source of danger 7
— There is no doubt about that. You see with such heavy
shots being fired with, say, 2 lbs. of powder in, it is bound
to shake the roof.

28987. So that yt>ur danger is not a danger arising from
gas at all 7 — Not so much.

28988. But it arises from the fact that so much powder
is used that it shakes the roof and sides, and that they are
frequently giving way ; that is the great source of accidents
in your district 7 — Yes. We have gas, and men have lost
their lives from inflammable gas ; but that is not our most
dangerous point ; we are not complaining much about that.

28989. In the first instance, in the opening -out of these
mines, it is dangerous work 7 — Yes.

28990. But you say that in your district now you are
chiefly working pillars which were left behind in mines that
had been worked before 7 — Yes.

1. As a practical man, does that in your opinion
vastly increase the danger 7 — We think so.

28992. We want to understand now the chief reason of
the dangerous conditions of working ; that being so, if I
understood you rightly, your great complaint is that there
are managers who allow incompetent men to be appointed
to the most responsible position in that dangerous district ;
that is the burthen of your complaint 7 — What we say is
that they are not all responsible deputies. They have
assistants ; some of the assistants may be practical men ;
some of them may be old men, but some of them are young
men, and they are not practical men.

28993. But you are not charging the whole body of
employers in the district with what I should call this
disgraceful state of things 7 — No.

28994. Still, you know within your own knowledge that
there are a number who allow incompetent men to be
appointed to these responsible positions, and you wish to
make that impossible 7 — They do not call them responsible,
but they are put there, ana they are put under another

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28895, (Chairman.) I understood you to say that some-
tunes the deputies themselves were not competent ? —
WeD» they axe not.

28d96. And still less the assistant deputies 7 — Yes.

28997. (Mr. Wm. Abraham,) Is General Rule 39 of the
Mines Act put in force in your district at all ? — ^We have
not much fault to find with respect to that. We are only
fM that one man is not allowed to get stone in the face ;
Imt then they can put two unskiU^ men, and two can
do 80.

28998. Let us deal with that ; is that so really ?— We
have no fault to find about that.

28999. It is not a question of your finding fault ; you
ace here now. The point which you have mi^e is a point
which may appeal to some of us who have practical know-
lodge like yourself ? — I think as a rule our managers are
eacefnl not to commit a breach of that rule. As a rule the
maiuigers in Cleveland do not commit a breach of that

29000. But why did you say just now that they con-
sider they are not committing a breach of the rule if they
put in two unpractical men 7— That has been a decision
which has been given ; that is all I mean. You know it
yoniselves, I think.

29001. But we are speaking now about what is the
practice in your district ? — The practice in our district
iSy I think, to keep the rule, so far as I know.

29002. Then you have no complaint to make 7 — Not
oa that point.

29003. (Chairman.) I am told there is no such decision,
SB you suggest, that the rule aUows two unskilled men to
work together 7 — I believe that has been decided, but we
have no trouble with that, and I do not think our managers
commit a breach of that rule at aU by putting a man in
by himself. I have never heard of it. As a rule, the rule
is oariied out.

29004. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Then what is the nature of
your complaint in regard to their allowing unpractical
miners to become fillers 7 — We cannot prevent them.

29005. It is not a question of preventing it ; you want
to remedy this condition of things 7 — They are not working
in tiie face; they are only breaking up the stone that
has been got.

29006. (Chairman.) I understand you do not object to
infixperienced men being broi^t in as fillers so Ions as
they understand the dnll 7 — ^We do not object to t£em
at aD. It is not a question of drilling ; all they have to do
is to break up the stone and fill it ; they do not work in
the face.

29007. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Will you try and under-
stand tile question which I put to you ; these men are
allowed to fill in places where the stone has been brought
down by the force of powder 7 — Yes.

29008. Is that always safe 7 — It is within the scope of
the Mines Act ; it is perfectly in order.

29009. Then you do not want to amend that at all 7 —
We do not want to complain about tiiat at all. We have
no complaint upon that.

29010. But I thought ^ou said just now that these men,
being strangers to the mmo, are placed to fill stone where,
by ttieir own knowledge, they could not so examine the
plEMie as to be able to inform themselves whether it was
safe or not 7 — No, they could not.

29011. That is so 7 — That is so. But the chargeman
has to look after them ; it is in the Special Rule ; the
efaaigeman has to see that the place is safe for them.
Thfore is no fault on that head at all. I do not think we
have had more than two fillers killed in the whole history
of our Cleveland mines. We have no fault to find upon
that point at all.

29012. I am glad to hear that. I thought you had a
eomplaint to make 7 — No, we have not.

29013. Then your complaint chiefly is against incom-
petent men being placed in responsible positions as
deputies and so forth 7 — ^Yes.

29014. Then let us deal with that. To what extent
has tiiat been done 7 — I should think at the present time
tbeie would be probably about six or seven mines in the
Gbveland district where that has been carried out — seven,

29015. (Mr. SmUlie.) Out of 20 7— Out of 20.

99016. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is to say one-third 7

29017. Now what is the present means of examining
these men for the appointments 7 — ^The under-manager,
if he wants a deputy, just goes to a certain man and says :
'* I want you to start deputy work," and the man goes
and starts. There is no examination at aU.

29018. Naturally the manager would select the most
competent man that he had, would he not 7 — He probably

29019. Your complaint is that he does not — we may
as well have it, you know 7 — ^No, it is not so much that
as the system. To try and make you understand, I will
put it in this way : I will suppose that you are a practical
deputy, and that you have another practical deputy with

(Chairman.) I understood the Witness to say that the
best men were not appointed as deputies, certainly.

29020. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is what I understood
you to say when you answered my question : the burthen
of your complaint is that unpractical men are being
appointed in some places to the most responsible positions
in the practical working of a mine 7 — As assistante.

29021. (Chairman.) No, I understood you to say as
deputies as well as assistants 7 — I am not complaining so
much about the deputy who is responsible, as his having
an irresponsible man put with lum when there ought
to be two responsible men together.

29022. You, yourself, say it is necessary to have this
examination for deputies because you consider that the
deputies are not up to the mark 7 — Some of them are not.

29023. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is the point We
do not believe that you charge the whole district, but there
is occasionally a case of the kind, and you have said that
it is so for one-third of the district 7 — I think I can put
it to you clearly in this way : there are certain mines in
the district where the principle is to select the best miners
for the deputies, and they put two of those selected men
together, and they are both reBpon8ible - one is as good
as the other : they are both competent to go and inspect
in the morning, and they are competent to do any part
of the work. Now in six or eight of the other mines,
instead of having those two competent men together,
they have one competent man and another assistant
with him who ought to be a man equal to himself. I
cannot put it any clearer.

29024. (Chairman.) Then it seems to me that I mis-
understood your evidence to some extent, because I
certainly understood you to say that it was necessary to
have this examination for deputies, inasmuch as soma
mine managers did not appoint the best men they could
get as deputies, and that some deputies were certainly
not up to the mark : and that was the reason why you
insist^ upon having an examination of deputies 7 — That
is so to a certain extent : there are some men who have
been appointed deputies who have never been miners.

29025. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is what we want to
get from you if jrou had only stuck to one story. We do
not think for a moment that you are chargbig the whole
district with this practice, but that you lukve known of
some cases where they allow incompetent men to be
appointed to a most responsible and practical position
in the mine 7 — ^We have some that have not had the
knowledge which we think they ought to have had before
they were appointed.

29026. Very well, you have some. I do not believe
that every district would allow that state of things to
exist, but as you know, all that legislation can do is to
bring vp the unpractical and indifferent employers to the
level of what the best practical employer does without
the legislation 7 — Yes.

29027. That is the burthen of your complaint now,
that there are men in the mines who are guilty of
making appointments, as you have reason to believe,
of men who are not practical 7 — ^Yes. May I give you
an illustration 7

29028. T think if you will leave it there it will be sufiicient 7
— I would rather give you an illustration : here is a mine
with 50 deputies in it : who are all practical men : now
it suits the manager's purpose to take 20 of those practical
men away and to put 20 men as assistants there who are
not practical men. I want to ask you, if yon will allow
me to do so, is the efficiency of those deputies the same
as it was when they had 50 competent men 7 That is
tJie real kernel of the thing.

29029. (Chairman.) Still, what you say is rather a
puzzle to me, because you distinctly said to begin wit^,
as I understood you, that there were certain men in the




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pOBition of deputies who were not the best men that could
be got and who had not got the practical experience.
Now you say that a certain number of the deputies are
withdrawn and that assistant-deputies are put in their
places, and you have no complaint whatever to make,
as I understand, with regard to the men who are nominally
the deputies, but the complaint you have to make is that
certain assistant-deputies are put in the place of the
deputies to perform their duties ? — That is the chief
complaint. There is a little complaint about men being
appointed who are not comp3tent, but not so much that
as with regard to assistants to the deputies being appointed
who are not competent.

29030. Then you would insist, I supp>se, upon anyone
who exercised a function of deputy at all, whether as
assistant-deputy or as deputy, passing this examination ?
— Yes, that is it.

29031. {Mr. Wm. Abrctham.) Have you known cases
where deputies have been appointed who have had less
experience than three years ? — Yes, certainly : some
have never had any experience at all in getting ironstone.

29032. Then we will come baok to that : there is a case
against the deputies as well as against the assistant-
deputies ? — We do not want to bnng that up.

29033. But I want to know the truth : we are sitting
here to investigate the truth, and we expect to have it
from a man in your position ? — We have known men
who have never got any ironstone being appointed deputies.

29034. Very well, there you are, if you can prove that ?
— ^We can.

29035. Do you know of cases where unpractical men
have been allowed to put up timber in dangerous places ?
— I could not say that I have known such cases. Of
course, these assistants have gone to put it up.

29036. Well, the assistant is a man after all ?— -He is
a man, but he is not a competent man.

29037. That is the point ; I am trying to help you all
I can. So that these incompetent men are allowed to
go to dangerous places to do things which nobody but
competent men ought to do ? — ^They are supposed to be
under the superintendence of the one man.

29038. But they are allowed to go by themselves ?—
Thev are. Might I correct that: two of them go — not
single-handed. Where they have to put baulks in it takes
two of them, and two assistants have gone to timber a

29039. Are the two who go together incompetent ? —

29040. (Chairman.) Both of them are incompetent ?—
Well, they are assistants.

(Iff. Wm. Abraham.) But they are incompetent men,
whatever their position is.

29041. {Chairman,) One of them is an incompetent
man and the other is a comp3tent man, perhaps ? — I
would not like to say that with regard to all of them. I
must say that there are some old miners who have been
put on to that kind of work, and I could not say that they
are incompetent.

29042. We do not suggest that you should say that
everyone is incompetent ? — I could not say that that class
of man is incompetent, but I mean to say a greenhorn who
has been taken on to fill and then does the other kind of
work, would be incompetent.

29043. {Mr, Wm, Abraham,) You say in your statement
that two skilled deputies should be allowed to go together P

29044. And that no men should be permitted to set or
put in timber who have no practical knowledge of tim-
bering ? — ^Yes.

29045. I ask you whether that is so^no matter how
infrequently it happens, but does it happen ?— It does.

29046. Very well, that is all that we want. Now you
want to have soms Rule m^e, either Special or General,
to prevent that being allowed ?— Yes, we want somo Rule
to say that they shall be all competent and thorou^ly
practical men.

29047. Therefore, the burthen of your complaint is
that unpractical and incompetent men are being placed
in responsible positions at some places T — Well, I had
better put it " irresponsible men."

29048. (Mr. Cunynghame.) With regard to one question
which you have been asked, would you give us the name
of the mine where the incompetent men are being put on !

We do not wish to single out any particular mine.

29049. Then, of course, it leaves it open to this. I
sympathise with you entirely in regard to your not wishing
to give the name, and I do not want to press you to give
it, only, of course, if you say that somewhere there is
somebody who is incompetent, but you will not say where,
it cuts away all chance from the man of coming and
saying, " I am competent," and of proving it. You do
not give him a chance, as it were ?— No.

29050. Therefore, of course, as you are aware, it must
very much weaken the value of what you say, must it
not ?— Yes.

(Mr. Cvntjnghame.) I am not at all wishing to put it
against you ; I respect your motives. I will say no more
— ^indeed, I do not think I can say any more upon that.

29051. (Mr, Wm, Abraham.) But let me ask you, as I
did a witness yesterday, whether you will give that infor-
mation privately to the Chairman ? — ^Will you allow me
to say this : take a man who \b not competent to examine
in the morning, and then suppose he is put to set timber
up, do you consider he is a competent m^n ?

29052. We do not want to go back to that. I under-
stand that you have cases in your m'nd ; all we ask now
is whether you will give that inform ition privately ? —
I can tell you that there are about seven or eight mines
in the Cleveland district where there are assistants put
under a deputy who are not responsible.

29053. I should like you to give the namis to the
Chairman — ^not to go down in print — ^because that would
be of great assistance ? — ^Well, if you do not see clearly
the point that we put I do not think I can make it clear.

29054. We see the point that you are putting t — ^We
will give you privately the nam^ of six or seven mines
where this business is carried on. I must draw a comparison
again : there are four of you gentlemen sitting on that
side of the table ; now suppose that you are all practical
and responsible men, then take three of you away and put
three irresponsible men who are not competent to examine
in the morning with you, and suppose that the other
gentleman has charge of you three ; he sends you to put
up timber and he is supposed to inspect it, and he
may get there probably som? time in the day, but some-
times he may never go there at all, but may leave you to
put it in. I put that gentleman as being responsible
and that you are his three assistants, and he says to two
of you, " Go and timber a district," and then you go to
timber that district, and he takes the other assistant
with him to go and timber another district, and he is not
with you while you are putting that timber in. That
is the case which I put.

29056. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis,) \^ou represent the Qeve-
land Miners and Quarrym m's Association ? — ^Yes.

29056. Does that Association pretty well incl^dB aU
the workers in the mines ? — ^In Cleveland it does.

29057. What proportion are outside ? — ^Not many now.

29058. You spaak generally for the whole of the men
who are engaged in the mines 1 — Yes.

29059. It is ironstone mines you are speaking of ? —

29060. The statistics with reference to falls of roof
look very bad in these reports: ironstone mines, 1'940
per 1,000 persons employed. But how many x>erBonB
are there employed ? — ^I have not the exact number now
before me, they are in the Blue Book ; I think it would
probably be nearly 9,000.

29061. S3 that you see when you take the number of
accidents, which are really very few in number, it would
appear to be a very large percentage of the persons em-
ployed ?— Yes.

29062. Therefore, it really makes it look worse than it
is. How many accidents were there last year ? — Do you
mean fatal accidents.

29063. Take fatal accidents to begin with, if you can
tell me the number ? — I am not sure whether it was 15.

29064. It was hardly 15, I think. In ironstone mines
the fatal accidents from falls of roof and sides were 11,
and the non-fatal accidents from falls of roof and sides
were 30. So that you see there are not a great many,
although the figures look very large ? — Oh, that is not a
tithe 01 them.

(Chairman,) These are only deaths.

29065. (Mr, Ralcliffe Ellis.) The total number of fatal
accidents from falls of roof and sides in 1905 was II in
the whole of the Cleveland Ironstone Mines. I do not
suggest for a moment that we should not try to make
the number less if we can, but it is not nearly as bad as

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it looks when you say 1*940 per 1,000 persons employed ?

29066. You Bijggest that in' order to secure safety there
should be a better qualified deputy to do the timbering ?
— Yes. We require that there should be two responsible
and practical men who should go U gether.

29067. I will ask you to refer for a moment to see what
rules ^ere are at present which apply to timbering, and
see whether I have got them all: there is, first of all,
General Rule 21 in the Act ? — Yes.

29068. That applies to ironstone : " The roof and sides
of every travelling road and working place shall be made
secure, and a person shall not, unless appointed for the
purpose of exploring or repairing^ travel or work in any
such travellhig road or working place which is not so made
secure." That is a General Kule which applies to iron-
stone mines ? — Yes.

29069. And it is the duty of the certificated manager
who is in charge of the mine to see that that regulation
is carried out ? — Yes.

29070. That is the first General Rule. Now coming
to your Special Rules, there is Rule 42, which provides :
" The deputies are responsible for having ready, and
putting into every working place a sufficient quantity of
timber, brattice, and other materials ; and for setting
sufficient timber to afford the greatest possible safety to
the workmen employed, and to report any deficiency of
timber, brattice, or other material to the overman or
back-overman, and they are to brattice all working places
where necessary " ? — Yes.

29071. Then your Special Rule 38 : " The deputy shall
frequently examine the edges of the goaves and working
Juds " — what is a ** working jud '* ; is that where the
men work ? — It is where they are taking out pillars and
preparing for a faD.

29072. ** The deputy shall frequently examine the edges
of the goaves ana working juds, and where danger is
apprehended no juds are to be drawn until the mine is
done working." That is another timbering rule ? —

29073. Then your Special Rule 41, which says that it
is the deputy's duty *' inmiediately to withdraw every
workman from any place rendered dangerous by noxious
gases or absence of timber," and so on. His duty is to
withdraw the men in case of danger ? — Yes.

29074. Special Rule 42 I have read to you. Then
Special Rule 43 : " To keep all tramways properly secured
and in a working state, from the working faces to the in-
bye end of the station, or to the rolleyway." That is
again a question of timbering ? — Yes.

29075. Special Rule 52 : " Each workman in addition
to the examination by the deputy, or other officer, must
satisfy himself of the safety of his own working place
before commencing, also whilst at work, and should the
working place of any workman become unsafe from any
cause, he is to discontinue working in it, and immediately
go or send for the deputy. But if unsafe from want of
timber being set, then, in the absence of the deputy, there
being sufficient timber of proper lengths in the place,
such workman to set it in order to keep himself safe, or
cease to work and report the same to the overman or
deputy," and so on ? — Yes.

29076. Then Special Rule 56 provides that "No one,
unless authorised so to do, shall interfere with, or alter
any timber set to support the roof or sides or any venti-
lating door, brattice, switches, or other appliances."
Are all those rules, either General or Special, the rules
relating to timbering ? — I think th^y pretty well cover it.

29077. Do you think that if those rules were carried out
there is sufficient protection ? — I should say there was.

29078. So that what we have got to is the question
whether or not proper means are taken to see that these
rules are carried out ? — Yes.

29079. What sort of timbering is it that has to be
done ? — In pillar working it is prop3.

29080. What heght are they as a rule ?— It varies
from 7 ft. upwards ; we have one mine working at 16
or 18 ft., but I think the bulk of it would be about from
8 ft. to 9 ft. or 10 ft.

29081. Do you find that these accidents happen in the
roads or in the working places more generally ? — In the
working places.

29082. Have you anything to say against the way
in which the roads are timbered ? — No, I do not think
we have.



29083. You think that is satisfactorily done by the men,
whether they are competent or incompetent, in the roads ?
— Yes.

29084. What is the sort of timberingin the wt)rking

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 86 of 177)