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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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places ? You Bpoke about baulks ? - Where they are
working in whole workings it is generally baulks let into
the sides.

29085. What sizes of baulks ? — They drive in places
from 12 to 13 and 14 ft.

29086. Are those baulks of such a size that they take
two or three men to lift them ? — Yes, it takes two to lift
them ; it is very heavy timber and the roofs are as a rule
not good.

29087. Then those are supported by props underneath ?
— No, they generally cut a hole into the stone ; it is strong
in most places, but if it is necessary they pat a prop under

29088. One man could not do that work ? — ^No, he
could not do it.

29089. It requires two or three men ? — Yes.

29090. Is there always one man, the deputy, who is a
competent man ? — Yes.

29091. What you want is that in addition to the deputy,
who Is now a competent man, there should be some other
person as competent as the deputy to go with him ?^-

29092. Where- it takes three men to do it, you want all
three men to be equally competent with the deputy ? —
We have one competent man sometimes go where there
are three going together.

29093. Is that your request — that although now the
deputy is a competent man, yet in addition to the deputy
the men who have to do the labour with him should ho
equally well qualified ? — The other man has to cut the
baulk hole and to do his p!^rt of the business.

29094. Is it your request that the men who go to assist
him — two or three, as the case may be — must be equally
well qualified as the deputy ? — Yes, if they have to put
in t'mber. If it is cutting away timber or anything
of that kind, others can do it, but if it is timbering the place
as we have stated in our Statement, where they put the
timber in, they should be competent men.

29095. I want to see what this competent man has to
do, because if he is nothing more than a labourer there
is no need for him to pass an examination. Now what
someone has to do is to cut a hole in the stone on ea?h
side ? — Yes.

29096. Then the baulk has to be lifted and put upon
those supports ? — Yes.

29097. Part of what is required for that is strength ? —

29098. What is the skilful part of it ?— The skilful part
of it is to cut the holes, and to know the nature of the top
where they have to put the baulk, and one man is required
to assist and look after the other in looking at the roof.

29099. But if you have one man there who is a skilled man
to look at the roof and to himself give directions as to how
to do the work, does it require the men who have to lift up
the baulk and put it in its place to be equally skilled ? — If
the man only had to lift it up, no, but he has to take a part
in it.

29100. What part has he to take ?— -He has to cut the
hole and be there to assist the other m'^n.

29101. But if there is a man there who looks after it and
who understands the roof, the cutting of the hole is not a
great matter of skill ? — No, but the majority of the mines
have two skilled men together*

29102. But I want to see the necessity of it ? — ^There is
a necessity. It requires all the eyesight and all the brain-
power for them to look after it.

29103. You think one is not enough ? — ^Yes.

29104. Do you think there should be two skilled men ? —
I think there should be two skilled men.

29105. And then the third man should be the labourer ?
— ^Tliere is no third man wanted in most of the mines.

29106. But if there is one wanted, would a labourer be
enough ? — ^Yes.

29107. You think that if you have two skilled men. and
it is necessary to have any other labourer there, he need not
be skilled ? — ^He need not be.

29108. You suggest that you would sscure this skilled
man, this deputy, by an examination ? — Yes.

J. Toyn,

' No7ri907.

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29109. I understand you agree that the present deputies
are, in the main, skilled men ? — ^In the main, I suppose they

29tl0. WeU, you believe them to be so T — ^I think a good
many of them are.

29111. Have they passed examinations ? — No.

29112. Then what advantage would they get by passing
examinations ? — I should let them go on as they are.

29113. How is it that they have becom3 skilled without
having passed examinations ? — Practice will make them
skilled, some of them.

29114. Without passing examinations T—Practioe makes
some of them skilled, no doubt.

29115. Will examination without practice make a man
skilled ? — ^Not exactly ; but you want to test him to know
whether or not he is skilled enough to go into that respon-
sible position.

29116. Do you know the examination for a second-class
certificate ! — I do not.

29117. So that you are not able to say whether that
examination would be sufficient ? — Oh, he would not want
that. I would have an examination of a different kind ;
I would examine him in sounding. For instance, one man
might go and sound, and perhaps there would be a th'n
layer and it would ba very tight, and it might sound what
IS called " drummy," and he might sound a big lump and
h& would want to know whether that was good or bad. If
he understands sounding, it would have a leaden and dead
sound if it was bad, but if it was good it would ring off it.

29118. I suppose that is common knowledge to anybody
who has done ironstone mining ? — Well, it is knowledge to
them who have had some experience of it, but outside it is

29119. These men who are appointed as deputies are
appointed by the managers, are they not ? — Yes.

29120. Therefore they must have satisfied the manager
that they are competent ? — I am not sure about that. He
thinks they are competent.

29121. And they are competent as a rule 7 — As a rule,
I should say they are.

29122. Is it not sufficient for a manager to in that way
select men that he considers are comx>etent in the same way
as he has done in the past ? — Not as he is selecting some of
them now.

29123. One cannot legislate for exceptions, but generally
speaking, however, these men have come to be deputies,
they are competent men, and they have been selected by
the managers. Is not that examination sufficient for you ?
— No. iXe men that we complain about now have been
selected by the manager.

29124. How many deputies do you suppose there are in
the Cleveland district ? — I suppose there would be 300 or

29125. How m\ny are there that you think are incom-
petent ? — ^We have not taken the numbers of them.

29126. Are there five ?— Oh, yes.

29127. Are there a dozen ? — There are more than 50.

29128. Have you any statistics to shew that the number
of accidents from falls of roof and sides are greater where
these incompatent men are appointed ? — ^No, we have not.

29129. Do you know anything about those statistics ? —
We do not.

29130. When you supply the names you will be able to
find out that, will you not, and you will be able to see
whether their want of skill makes itself self-evident "by the
larger number of accidents at the faces ? — ^It may to a
certain extent, but it does not follow that that is the whole
of it.

29131. What else is there ? — ^We have a lot of agencies
at work now that did not use to be at wcnrk years ago.

29132. What else is there that you look at in order to see
whether these men are skilled or not ? — ^The way in which
they do their work. I do not know whether you heard me
mention a case in which I was at an inquest where a man
was not allowed to examine in the morning, but he was
competent enough to stop there ; the deputy left at 20
minutes past 12, and then his assistant took charge when
he went away, and yet his assistant was not competent to
examine in the morning to soimd the top, but he was com-
pdtent to take charge after the deputy had gone.

29133. I heard that you said all that at the inquest ?—

29134. And the Coroner did not agree with you T-^The
Coroner did not understand it, he was not a miner.

29135. Whether he understood it or not, he did not agree
with your view ? — ^Well he said he did not.

29136. The Jury brought in a verdict of accidental death ?
— ^The Jury brought in a verdict of accidental death, Irat
there was no fault on the part of the deputy ; that came
out in the examination.

29137. Will you tell me what examination you suggest
there should be ? You say you will not leave it to the
manager ; you say you cannot trust him to select com-
p3tent people to do this work. What is the sort of exam-
ination which you would suggest ? — I would suggest an
examination by the manager, the under-manager uid two
miners appointed by the men.

29138. But why ? The men are not responsible in any
way. The manager is responsible under the Act of
Parliament if he d^ not select competent people ? — ^Yca.

29139. There is no responsibility on the men ? — ^No.

29140. But still you think the men ougbt to be invited
to consider whether a dep ity should be qualified or«not ?
— ^Whether they consider him qualified.

29141. SuppDsing you have got a Board of that sort^
would you propose to have equal numbers, or in what
way are you going to decile the question ? — I would not
be particular — two or three on each side.

29142. Supposing the manager and bis side of the Board
were of opinion that the man was qualified, and the men's
side of the Board were of opinion that the man was not
qualified, how would you decide it then ? — There would
have to be, p3rhapj, a third party called in.

29143. An arbitrator to decide whether a deputy was
qualified or notP — The difficulty might be got over in
that way.

29141. Why should you object, if there is to be an
examination, to have it decided by some altogether outside
authoritv, as in the case of second-class certificates ? —
I shoula not have it as stiff as that, because the miners
and men in that position would not be competent to go
through a sort of theoretical examination.

29145. But if there is to be an examination, would it
not be more satisfactory that it should be conducted by
somebody outside both the employer and the workmen ?
— I think the managv^r and the workmen at the place
could do it the best.

29143. You do not think the manager is competent to
do it ? — I think the manager is competent if he would
only appoint the men, but if the men had a voice in the
matter as well, they know the man and know what is

29147. Do you think the manager is competent to do
it ? — He is comp3tent.

29148. Then why not let him do it ? — Because we do
not agi*ee with the way in which he is doing it now.

29149. In some cases you do agree ? — In some cases
we do.

29150. There is a very large propDrtion of the cases in
which you do agt'ee ? — Yes ; in some mines we have not
a fault to find with it.

29151. In other cases you do not think the manager
is competent to select them. If you will be good enooffh
to send to the Secretary of the Commission a note of the
places where these incompetent men are, then it will be
possible to ascertain whether there are more accidents
under their management than in the other cases ? — I
should not like to say that there are more accidents. We
try to prevent them.

29152. Yes, I suppose everybody would do that At
any rate, you will furnish that information ? — Yes.

29153. I think I understood you rightly to say that
no person should be appointed a deputy who had not
worked as a stone-getter 7 — Yes.

29154. Would that be a qualification in addition to the *
examination ? — It would qualify him to pass the exami-

29155. But supposing he had not that experience, yon
would not allow him to sit to be examined ? — I do not
think I should allow him to be examined.

29156. Is the work of getting stone necessary to qualify
a man for examining the roof? — It makes him become
acquainted with the nature of the roof.

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29157. Tou think that experience is of advantage to
him ? — Yes, I think that is the best experience he can

29158. You would make that a condition of his sitting
for exammation ? — ^Yes.

29159. Then no man could be a deputy, however well
qualified, who had not worked at stone-getting ? — In
my estimation, he would not.

29160. So that you would exclude from the chance of
being appointed as deputy any person who had not been
an actual workman in getting stone ? — I would.

29161. Now as to the chargeman and driller. The
ohargeman, I understand, is the man who charges the
shot ?— Yes.

29162. And I suppose the examination has to be made
by somebody before the men are allowed to go to work ?
— Yes, before the fillers are allowed to go to work.

29163. Who does make the examination ? — ^The charge-

29164. Is he a competent man as a rule ? — As a rule,
I think they are competent.

29165. Do you want to make any alteration in his
qualification ? — I have known men appointed that were
not competent to drill. Of course, in the morning the
deputy examines the place, and then the man goes in with the
dim and he has charge of another young man, who is what
they call the "drill changer," and I have known men
come in there, and I have had it pointed out by a manager
tiiat those men have had no experience, and they have
told me that they were going on and how much they were
making in a day.

29166. Are you speaking now from your experience
or from information given to you 7 — Iiiormation given
to me.

29167. Are you speaking of anything like the universal
practice or of a very few exceptions ? — Of a very few
exceptions. We have not much fault to find.

29168. As a rule, you think the chargemen are qualified
to do the work they have to do ? — As a rule I beUeve they

I 29169. With reference to the inspection, you think
there ought to be an inspection at least every six months ?

29170. And that it should be more complete than the
inspector makes now ? — Yes.

29171. The Chairman has suggested to you whether
you would be in favour of the appointment of a lower
grade of inspectors to do this work ? — Yes.

29172. Do you propose that such inspectors should be
appointed by the Home Ofiice ? — Yes.

29173. Should they be required to qualify themselves ?
— ^To a certain extent, to see that they are competent for
the place.

29174. Do you consider that their duties should be
merely examining the roof and sides ? — Principally that.

29175. Would they have to examine for gas ? — Occa-
sionally they would.

29176. Would they have to understand the measurement
of the air, the ventilation and other matters ? — Well,
that would be a question. I do not know whether they
would be capable of doing that.

29177. Why should they not be ? — Of course they could
Boon measure the air.

29178. Do you not think it is desirable that if a man
is appointed as inspector he should be fully qualified to
lo aU the duties of an inspector ? — ^I would suggest a
thoroughly practical man, and that he should be com-
petent to see that all was safe in every resx>ect.

29179. Then he would of course have to be trained
• pretty much as an inspector is trained ? — ^Not exactly
' as fox as they are trained now — ^the theoretical part.

29180. What is the advantage of having a less qualified
i inspector than you have at the present time ? — Well, the
t inspectors we have now have not been practical miners.

; 29181. But if they understand the working of mines
1 18 it not sufficient 7 — But no man does unless he has been
/ a practical miner.

{ 29182. Then is your view that no person should be
1 appointed as an inspector of mines who has not actually
! worked as an ironstone getter T—Yes, for this class that
we are speaking about.

29183. Then for the other class you would not make Mr,
that requirement ? — ^No, I could hardly do that. /. Toyn,

29184. Why not ? — I think that a chief inspector wants 7 Nov., 1907.
to be in such a position that he could put a first-class —1—
manager right.

29185. Still he must understand it himself, must he
not ? — ^Yes. He will only know it the same as the manager
does ; there are not many of them that have ever been
practical men.

29186. Then your view is, at any rate, that although
the chief inspector and his assistant need not have been
practical working men, yet with regard to these sub-
inspectors, if they were appointed, although they must

rlify themselves by passing an examination, they must
have been practical working miners ? — ^Yes ; and if
they could pass the other examination I would allow them
to do so.

29187. Certainly, there is no reason why a man's class
should prevent him getting to the highest post if he is
equal to the job. That is your view : you think that
would be an improvement ? — ^Yes, and I think that if
you had good thorough practical working men, they would
do some real good practical inspection.

29188. They would of course be surrounded with all
the restrictions that an inspector of mines is surrounded
by as to the use which he can make of any information he
gets — they would have to be entirely independent ? —
Certainly — ^independent of all parties.

29189. (Dr. HcUdane,) Have you mmy accidents from
blasting ? — ^We have had accidents from blasting, but they
are, comparatively speaking, very few.

29190. So that the method used is, on the whole, safe,
considering the enormous amount of blasting done ? —
Yes. It is pellet-powder — compressed powder — that is
used: it is in 2-ounce cartridges, and it is much safer
than the loose powder used to be. There are not many
accidents in blasting — scarcely any.

29191. How is it fired ? — ^It is fired with patent squibs :
we never fire with fuses. They use a wood rammer to
put the powder up with, and a copper or composition
needle pricker and stemmor : they have to put the powder
in with a wood rammer, and they are very careful indeed.

29192. Have you ever heard of any men being affected
by the smoke, I mean being made ill by the powder smoke ?
— ^Yes, often ; but not suddenly ilL

29193. Have you known them to get headaches, and so
on ? — Yes.

29194. Does that happen often nowadays ? — ^Yes, it
still occurs to a certain extent : it is not so bad as it used
to be.

29195. In what sort of places would that happen — in
the stalls 7 — As a rule the places are worked about 12 or
13 ft. wide, and the strata varies from 7 ft. to 10 ft. or
10 ft. 6 in. generally. I think the Cleveland main seam is
about 8 ft. thick, but at Eston they are working it from
about 16 to 21 ft.

29196. Yes, they are very high there. — That is a very
high mine, but that is an exception.

29197. On the whole you think the ventilation is good 7
— ^Yes : it is better than it used to be. Of course they
have a difficulty now when they are working out pillars :
they cannot keep their air-courses up and their stoppings
up, and everything, so well as they can in whole workings.
We have some mines that are " whole " working : they
are not all *' brokens," but most of them are.

29198. I think on the whole the life of an ironstone
miner is a very healthy one, is it not 7 It has that repu-
tation 7 — ^Well it probably is not so unhealthy as some

29199. You have some accidents, of course ; but I mean
apart from accidents you have nothing much to complain
of, have you 7 — ^No, I do not think we have.

29200. You have no special troubles there, have you 7
Have you any cases of what they call miners' nystagmus
— ^trouble with the eyes 7 — ^The coal miners sometimes
have it. — No, I do not think we have any difficulty about

29201. And you have no trouble with the dust 7— No.

29202. It does not do any harm to anyone, apparently 7
— No. There is sometimes a little trouble with too much

29203. (Mr. SmiUie.) You have had a long experience
as a practical miner 7— Yes, I have had 20 years' experience
in the mines as a miner.


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7 Nov., 1907

20^04. You represent tlie liriie«tone qnarrytnen t— Yes,
those who are getting stone for flax lor the fumnces : it
18 all m onr iron trade.

20205. Have yon had any practical experience as a
quarryman ? — ^No, I have not as a limestone qtiarrymdiL

2^206. Has your long experience as a trade union leader
amongst them given you experience of it ? — Yes : I have
visited aU ^e quarries many times.

29207. It would not be correct to say thAt you did not
tmderstand the position of quarrymen T — ^No, I fairly -
Well understand uie quarries.

29208. Would it be correct to say that a practical coal-
miner can understand the practical part of ironstone
mining ? — It would take him a good bit to do it.

29209. Th6re are many coal miners who havfe worked
in ironstone mines, and there are many ironstone miners
who have worked in coal mines ? — Yes.

29210. So that in that case they have bad experience of
both ?— Yes.

29^11. So far as the nature of the roof is concerned, a
coAl-miner would have a better opportunity of recognising
the danger in an ironstone ttiine than a stranger who had
tto eirperienc© in a coal mine ? — Yes.

29212. I think so far as the sounding of stone is con-
cerned, the same thing applies in an ironstone mine as in &
coftl mine ? — To a certain extent it would apply — to a
greater extent, I might say.

29213. I mean that the nature of the roof in coal mines
varies from place to place almost as much as it would in
different places in ironstone mines ? — Yes.

29214. I think your strong point is that deputies, in
addition to having the necessary qualifications, should
have three years' experience at the face ? — Yes.

29215. Is it your opinion that the most valuable experi-
ence is that wnich is gained at the working face ? — That
is so.

29216. So far as the nature of the roof and also the
dangers arising from shot-firing and other things are
concerned, that experience is gained at the face more than
at any other emplojonent ? — There is no doubt about
that. Might I explain to you that the tops vary so, and
the backs, that is the seams in the roof ; there are some
what we call saddle-backs, and thejr are very dangerous
indeed: there is a great difficulty m underBtanding the
nature of those backs.

29217. Sometimes it is nearly impossible to find out a
saddle-back even by sounding. It ihay sound all right on
the top, but it may fall out without giving any previous
warning ? — That is so.

29218. But a skilled miner very often knows when he
comes in afaiongst those from the nature of the roof, and he
can sete from Sie nature of the roof that he is amongst
dfwlgerouS saddle-backs ? — Yes.

29219. You think that every deputy before being
appointed should, as I have said, have three years' experi-
ence, and should prove Also by examination his qualifica-
tion for becoming a deputy ? — Yes.

29220. That is to say, in the interest of his own safety
atid for the safety of the workmeii under his charge ? —
Yes, quite as much for himself as for the others under his

29221. Is it your opinion that the depiiiieS are inore
responsible, as a matter of fact, for the safety of the work-
ing miners than oven the manager himself ? — That is so,
a considerable deal inore.

29222. And that if it is necessary for a colliery manager
to hold a certificate of competency, it is still more necessary
that a deputy should hold one ? — It is, because the
management of a mine begins with the deputy in the
morning and finishes with him, and some of the managers
do not go in more than once a week.

29223. I suppose there is no longwall working there ? —
No. It is all pillar and stall — board and pillar.

29224. {Dr. HMane.) It would be quite impossible to
work longwall in the thick seams, would it not 7 — Yes,
I think it would.

29226. They are treriiehdoilsly thick seams ? — Yes.

29226. {Mr. SmiUie,) I suppose the workihg of the
pillars is the most dangerous part of the ininirig in your
district — the taking out of the pillars ? — We think it is.

29227. What depth are the mines generally 7 — Some
of them work in on the inclined phiue, and I think tl»e
deepest mine in our district is about 124 fathoms.

29228. There would be a considerable weight on in
taking out the pillars at that depth ? — Yes, but Idiey are

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