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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 88 of 177)
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probably worse where there is the less covering on — lor
taking out the pillars.

29229. The roof is not so good or so strong ? — It is not
so good or so strong. It is stronger in-bye.

29230. In taking out your pillars, the men put up the
props to keep up the roof as they take out the piUars 7 —

29231. And then remove those props afterwards 7 —
Yes, they draw their juds and let the roof in.

29232. That is also veiy dangerous 7 — Drawing the juds
is very dangerous.

29233. That is also done under the charge of a skilled
deputy, I suppose, or a deputy who is supposed to be
skilled ? — Yes, Mr. Stephens could tell you more about
that because he is a deputy, and he has to draw judis

29234. If a third grade of inspectors were established by
law, you would have no objection, I suppose, to the&
holding a first-class certificate of competency 7 Provided
that they had the practical experience, as one part of their
qualification, would there be any objection to their holding
a first-class certificate 7 — ^Not me slightest.

29235. You are aware that a large number of ironstone
and coal miners do hold first-clwis certificates at the
present time 7 — Ym,

29236. And there would be Uo difficulty in getting
thoroughly skilled and practical men who cud hold Such
certificates, if there was a grade established of that kind 7
— Not the slightest. We have two or three men who hold
second-class certificates now working in the f^e.

29237. Do any of your miUers hold first-class certifi-
cates 7 — 1 believe we have one.

29238. Do you carry out General Rule 38 as far as
regards appointing Inspectors yourself to niake examina-
tions 7 — Yes, we do so in a number of mines, and we are
trying to encourage the men to do it all over, and we pay
them out of the funds of our Association.

29239. You are aware that that rule lays It down tbat
they must be practical working miners 7 — Yes.

. 29240. Do you think that that was a wise provision for
the Government to make, that they must oe practical
working miners 7 — I do.

29241. It ensured, at least, that they had the skill which
you think comes from practice 7 — Yes.

29242. Are you aware that thAt rule is interpreted in
your district to mean that they must be working at the
time of their appointment 7 Cbuld you appoint men who
had been practical working miners who were not then
employed 7 — Well, we never do. *

29243. Consequently, you do not know what position
your managers would take up if that were done 7 — No, we
do not. They generally appoint men who are working in
the mine which they have to inspect. I believe the rule
gives power to appoint miners from other mines to come
and inspect, but they never do so ; theJr always appoint
men out of their own mine.

29244. So far as your own knowledge goes, has the
i^pointment of those men from time to time led to greater
safety — I mean to a better observance of the Mines Act 7
— Yes, we think so. Of course, we cannot tell; we see
their reports, and we print them. They make veiy close
inspection, and in some mines it takes Uiem three days to
do it.

29245. Of course, if they find anything wrong or any
danger, a copy of their report has to bte forwardwl to the
mines inspector t — Yes ; the mine manager has a report
book, and things are put in the report, and if there is
anything wrong they point it out to him atid ask him to
rectify it.

2924B. As a matter of fact, really, an extension ot the
present system is what you propose, but that it should b^
set up by the Government 7— Yes.

29247. May we take it thtit, the ihspeotorS having a
practical knowledge, as you suggest, they would not in-
terfere in any way with the management of the mine,
but that they would report to the chief inspector 7 — Yes.

29248. You would not give them the powers which ar0
at present conferred upon chief insx>ectors, but yott would
make them assistant-inspectors, who would report the
results of their exfiuninations to the chief inspector 7 — Yes.

29249. And then he should take any action which he
thought necessary 7 — ^Yes. We think it would fill up a

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gap : that the inspeotoTB as they are now deal more with the
theoretical part of it, and we would put a practioal man
in BO as to coimeqt the whole thing together.

2925:0. You think thi^t a thprough examination of your
mines, made at least once in six laonths, and of course
oftener if req^ui^p4» would lead to greater safety T — ^Yes,
I think sa

29251. You have no objection, if it would be good for
the district, to an extension of it to all mines, I suppose i
—Not the slightest.

20252. You say you have 20i mines ?— I think ther^
are about 20.

20253. I daresay they vary in extent 1 — They do.

29264. What is the average number of men employed
in them — 200 ?— I daresay in Eston there would be nearly
1,000 men^ Some mines have about 300, and some 700 :
they vary.

29255. From 300 to 1,000 t Yes, and there are less
than 300 in some of them.

29256. You have given this matter some thought,
and ypu believe that one inspector devoting the whole
of his time to Cleveland, Whitby and Rosedale Abbey
Districts, could thoroughly inspect those 20 mines ? — I
think he could do it fairly well.

29257. You say that at the prese^it time, in the case of
some of your inspectors who are practical men and who
work in the mine and have considerable knowledge of the
mine, two men took three days to make an examination ?
— Yes, it takes three days.

29258. That would be in the case of a large mine ? —
Yes, it is a mine belonging to Messrs. Pease & Partners.
We have had reports sent in just recently, showing that it
took them three days to inspect all the working places and
air-courses, and we think there should be an inspector
appointed to cover the grouni which they have covered.

29259. Your chief complaint is not that the present in-
spectors do not do their work well ? — ^No, I believe they
do it very well.

29260. But that it is impossible that they can do it —
that they have far too much to do ? — Yes, they cannot
do it. I am not complaining about their not working
hard: I think they do.

29261. You think that perhaps £200 a year would cover
the necessary expense so far as your own particular dis-
trict ia concerned ? — I should think it would.

29262. And that that money would be well spent ? —
I dp think so.

29263. You believe it would lead to greater safety and
probably to the saving of life ? — ^Yes.

29264. {Mr. C uni/nghume.) You have told us that these
mines are inspected by the men under Rule 38 ? — Yes.

2926j5. Have they ever in their reports pointed out
the incompetency of some of the deputies ? — ^No : they
have nothing to do with that.

29266. That matter would not come under their con-
sideration ? — ^No.

29^7. You have not stated how often the inspection

was made. I suppose it was made at irregular times ? — Mr.

They could make it once a month i| they chose. J' Toyn.

29268. How often do they make it ? — ^Well. it just 7 ]^ov., 1907.
varies. If some men come to the lodge meeting and — 1~
say " Our district is getting a bit smoky," or something

like that,- they appoint two men to go round. I do no^
think there is any particular time when they do it, but
they do it frequently at some of the npdnes, and we are
asking them to do it at all of them, becaiise we think
the money is well spent.

29269. (Mr. BcUcUffe Ellis.) You say that you print
the reports of those inspections ? — Yes.

29270. Could they be supplied to the Commission ? —
Yes, I daresay we could send you a copy or two of them,
at any rate. Our secretary generally prints them at
the bo^itom of other business, but we coUl4 supply you
with some, I know.

29271. {Mr. Smiliie.) Might I ask whether those me^
are paid by the miners who appoint them, or whetjier
they are paid by the Association f — They are paid by the

29272. And you are willing to pay the expenses where-
ever there are men appointed by any of your miners ? —

29273. Proving that you have given every encouracement
for the carrying out of the system of inspection py the
men ? — Yes ; I may say I frequently advocate in my
quarterly circular that the men should appoint them,
because I think money that is spent to prolong life and
to protect it is weU spent.

29274. {Chairman.) May I ask whether those men are
(^Iways taken from tbo mine which they are sent down to
inspect, or do yoi oate men from other mines T — I tlunk
they are always taken from the mine which they inspect.
I have not known a case yet in which the men were brought
from other mines.

29275. You do not suppose the manager would make
any objection supposing you thought one particular man
was an especially gooa man for the purpose ? Would
the miners object to your sending him down another mine
than the mine which he himself was working in ? — 1 do
not know that the mine managers would object. Some
of them might possibly say " Have not we men competent
enough in our own mine, but I do not think they would

29276. You have never done that as a matter of fact :
you have always sent men down to inspect the particular
mine that they are working in ? — Yes.

29277. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Do ypu know of ai^y
instances where the reports made bv these men have
been called for at inquests as proof 01 the condition of a
mine at certain times ? — ^No.

29278. My point is this : as a rule those reports made
by the men are considered to be as reliable as possible ?

29279. So that the quality or the grade of men does
not prevent the reports being of importance 7 — ^They are
generally considered satisfactory: in fact I have not
heard a complaint against them. I have never heard
a complaint that reports were not satisfactory.

Mr. William Stephens, called and examined.

29280. (Chairman.) I understand you are a mines deputy.
You have heard the evidence given by Mr. Toyn with
regard to the qualifications of a deputy. Do you agree
with him that there thould be some sort of examination ? —
Yes, I think there should.

29281. And that there should be certificates of com-
petency given ? — Yes, I think there should be soipe
kind of examination to test a deputy's qualifications.

20282. Do you think that he should not be allowed to
sit for this examination until he has had that three years'
experience ?— That is so.

29283. With regard to who should conduct the exami-
nation, do you agree that it should be conducted by two
persons on behalf of the management, and two parsons
on 4)ehalf of the miners ? — I may say that is a matter
we, perhap, have not so carefully considered, probably,
as we might have done ; although we have partially
agreed that that would be perhaps a reasonable way
for the selection of a deputy.

29284. Have you any fault to find in general with the
selection of deputies made by managers ? Do you think
as a rule that the best men are chosen for deputies by the
managers ? — ^Yes, generally speaking, they are.

29285. As a rule the managers, you think, are careful
to choose the best men ? — ^Yes.

29286. Generally they do so in their own interest ? —
Generally speaking.

29287. Do you find that you have incompetent men
placed under you sometimes and pressed upon you as
assistants ? — ^Personally, no ; but there are cases as pre-
sented by Mr. Toyn this morning where pressure is brought
to bear upon deputies to accept assistants.

29288. People whom you do not consider quite compe-
tent to perform the duties ? — ^That ia so ; who are not com-
petent for that position.

29289. I suppose you would say not only persons who
ace nominally deputies, but also person? who are assistants*

34 a




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?f . Ste/phens

7 N^^907.


and^consequentl> have to perform, on occasionfi, deputies*
duties, ought to have deputies* certifiicates 7 — ^The
assistants ?

29290. Yes. Do you suggest that ? — If they have gone
through the proper probation and necessary examination,
then, of course, it would be all right. The fact* that they
are assistant-deputies would not make them qualifiecL
unless they had had experience.

29291. But an assistant-deputy may be called on to
perform all the duties of a deputy. He may have charge
of a mine, and while in charge may have to see to the
safety of a roof ? — I do not think that the management
would allow an assistant-deputy not considered by them
properly qualified to perform those duties.

29292. Mr. Toyn has said on occasions he knows the
assistant deputy has been left in charge by a deputy for
some hours. If a man is left in charge by a deputy, ought
not he to be a man who has passed a deputy*s examination
himself ? — He should be.

29293. There might be a great many more people who
had passed the deputy's examination than there is room
for as deputies, and anybody who passed the examination
might be qualified to act as an assistant-deputy ? — ^That
is so.

129294. You agree with Mr. Toyn, and you think as
regards timbering at all events two skilled deputies should
always go together ? — From experience I find that is so. It
is necessary that two skilled deputies should go together.

29295. You would be content if one man was nominally
a deputy and the other an assistant-deputy, providing
the assistant- deputy had x>^ssed the examination. He
would be then a qualified man ? — I do not see how he
could be an assistant-deputy if he had passed the

29296. There might be a large number of persons
qualified as deputies, but yet there would be no room for
them as deputies. You would say then that two people
who were to look after the roof should alwa3rs be two
deputies, and not only two people who passed the depu-
ties' examination, but two people who occupied the respon-
sible position of deputies themselves ? — ^Properly appointed
for that purpose.

29297. It would not be sufficient for a deputy to go
about with an assistant-deputy who had passed the exami-
nation and in course of time hoped to be a deputy himself ?
— ^I do not say as a temporary arrangement. It perhaps
would not be wise to draw a hard and fast line and say
possibly for a short period that it would not be all right ;
but to appoint a man and an assistant permanently is a
thing we fmd a great deal of iault with. I do not say for a
day or two that it would not be all right in case of a vacancy
or anything like that.

29298. You must not have too many persons as assistant-
deputies, because that would interfere with the flow of
promotion ? — ^Perhaps it would be as well to explain more
fully what is meant by an assistant-deputy. Those are
not men appointed as assistant-deputies, but they are
labourers who are working about the mine, and when
there is a vacancy in the face one of those is taken and put
in to fill a vacancy, not appointed actually assistant-
deputy. He simply goes with this deputy as a labourer
in the face, but not imderstood as an assistant- deputy,
although of course he assists the deputy in his work.

29299. Sometimes I understand a deputy will leave the
working face before the end of a shift, and leave somebody
in charge. The person he leaves in charge, according to
your view, ought to be a person who is sufficiently qualified
to be a deputy himself ? — That is so, and if he is not a
deputy he should not be in charge of a district for any time.

29300. You would not allow anybody but a person duly
appointed a deputy as well as having a certificate ? —
A deputy would be wrong in leaving a district without
somebody in charge — some qualified person, I mean.

29301. A qualified person need not be a person who
has been absolutely appointed as deputy ? — If a man was
working with me in the day, and was not qualified to take
charge of the district, I should not go home until the miners
had cleared out.

29302. You might have men with first-class certificates
to bo managers of the mine, but yet they are not managers
of the mine, they are working in the mine ; and in the same
way you might have a man at the working face, and the
deputy might say " You have passed your deputy's
cjertiticate ; take charge of this place while I am away ** ? —
If he was properly qualified that might be so. He is a

qualified deputy in a sense, and there would be no qttestlan
about leaving him in charge of the district

29303. No man should be allowed to set or put in timber
who had no practical knowledge of timbering. You
have all signed this statement 7 — Yes.

29304. How do you propose to find out whether a man
has practical knowledge of timbering 7 What would be
the qualification 7 — ^It ootdd only be found out by actual

29305. Have you anything to complain of in regard to
that matter — I mean men with no practical knowledge
being employed to put up the timber ? — Only where com-
plaint has been made this morning, where two men should
be doing the work there is only one.

29306. Your complaint is not that two unskilled men
are employed, but very often a skilled and an unskilled
man 7 — ^Tnat is so.

29307. You say it ought to be two skilled men 7 —

29308. You say that none but practical men should
be allowed to examine places that miners have to work in
before they commence their shift's work. Surely that
is a matter that the managers see to, that none but prac-
tical men examine before a shift 7 — I think that is carried
out. I do not think any shift of miners would commence
to work without the place being examined.

29309-11. You have nothing to complain of in that,
respect 7 — No, the places are inspected by a practical mc»i
before the miners commence their work. Before you leave
the deputy question, I should like to give some reason why
we think that two experienced men should work together.
It is veiy often the case that deputies, in the course of
their shift, are called to examine a place where the roof
is very bad, and it is necessary sometimes for one man to
watch while the other man works. There is just as much -
skill required to be a watcher as a worker, and where a .
place is very bad one, it is often the case that there is ^
great danger. If two experienced men are together, one
to watch while the other worked, I think it is better. .
Often the top is so bad that you are both afraid to work '
at once. One would sound it, and the other would see, if
necessary, to getting the timber in. In the case of an
inexperienced man it would be dangerous for the deputy to '
engage in doing that kind of work.

29312. I should have thought that greater experience
was required by the person watching than the person
doing the actual work 7 — You want experience in both
cases, working and watching. With regard to the sounding
of the roofs, I think a question was asked by Mr. Smillie.
In a good many cases in the ironstone mines the roof is
so high that you can only judge of the top by sounding it
with a sounder. In the coal mines you refer to it is quite
easy to sound with one hand, and leel the motion with the
other. In the case of the roof being 10 or 15 feet from the
bottom, you have to judge of the nature of the top by the
8em>ation caused by the sounding. It requires considerable
experience fcr a man to be able to tell when the roof does
really requiie timber — not so much putting in the timber,
as to understand the nature of the top, just when and
where timber should be put in to keep the top safe. I
confirm what Mr. Toyn has said, that without consider-
able experience of working in the face, it would be
impossible to form an opinion as to the nature of the top.

29313. Do you think that experience could not be got
very well under three years 7 — I do not say three years.
There is a great deal of difference in men. Some get
more experience in 12 months than others do in five years.

29314. You think that a good average would be three
years 7 — That is so.

29315. Have you anything more you wish to say about
timbering 7 — No, I think that covers it.

29316. Then with regard to the power machine miners.
Do you agree with Mr. Toyn's view that there is no objec-
tion to employing, as I understand, inexperienced fillers,
whose work is of a character that anybody almost can do,
but that no inexperienced person should be permitted
to take charge of a machine, or be entrusted to fire shots,
except they have had at least three years* experience in
getting stone m the face to prove their fitness 7 — The
same amount ot experience would be necessary t/O under-
stand the nature of the tops for the machine men witb the
fillers, as well as for the deputies who have to go in to exa-
mine the first thing in the morning. A number of fillers
are inexperienced men, and unless an experienced man
is in chaige, it would expose them to serious danger.

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29317. Do you think it would require three years' ex-
perience in getting stone at the face to enable a man to
take prcper charge of the machine ? — I do not think
Mr. Toyn has given anything unreasonable. It requires
a man of considerable experience.

29318. They must know not only how to drill, but
have knowlecjge of the roof ? — ^That is so.

29319. Just the same as the deputies would have ? —

29320. The qualifications for a man in charge of a machine
would h% the same qualifications as for a deputy as regards
a knowledge of the roof and sides ? — Yes, because he is
responsible for the men following in filling. When the
machine goes out and the shots are fired, that man has to
certify that the place is fit for the fillers to follow in. It
is necessary to have fair experience for that.

29321. At the same time he has nothing to do with the
timbering ? — No.

29322. He need not be an expert timberer ? — That is so.

29323. He ought to be able to tell when anything is
the matter with the roof ? — Quite so.

29324. Have you anything more to say about persons
in charge of the machine ? — No.

29325-29. (Mr, Smillia. ) Will you clear up the point with
regard to the Special Rule 65 which refers to the charge-
man. He has to examine the place after the shots are
fired ? — There is a man with the machine and a man who
fires the shot.

29330-1. (Chairman.) You have two men: the same man
tJiat charges does not fire the shot ? — ^The man that drills
the hole with the machine does not fire the shots. There is
a man specially appointed for firing the shots, but they
work as mates, and share the money earned.

29332. Do you consider at present that any considerable
number of shot-firers are incompetent ? — I should not say
really that a considerable number are incompetent.

29333. Do you think most of them have had the three
years' experience which you consider desirable ? — They
have by this time. When the machines were first intro-
duced they had not. Now I do not suppose there are any
working a machine who have not had three years' ex-
perience with the machine.

29334. You have nothing to complain of ? — Personally,

II do not know of a single case.
29335. Do you know a single case where an inexperienced
man has had charge of shot-firing ? — No.

29336. (Dr, Haldane.) Are these electrical or compressed
air ? — Both, we have both electrical machines and com-
pressed air.

29337. They have taken the place of hand machines ? —

29338. They are all rotary machines ? — Yes.

29339. (Chairman.) Do you wish to say any more
about Rule 65 with regard to the charge-men and shot-
firers ? — I think Mr. Toyn fairly well covered that
question, I do not want to repeat what he said.

29340. As regards inppection.. you heard what Mr. Toyn
f said about that. He thought that there was not enough

inspection, and that one working-man inspector should
be appointed to look after these Cleveland iron mines ? —
Certainly. I think it would be a great advantage.

29341. Do you consider that the inspection is in-
sufficient now ? — I do.

29342. The best plan would be not to appoint an
assistant for the whole district, coal mines and all, but

!■ you think you ought to have a working-man whose duties
*i should be simply to look after the iron mines ? — We think

• that would be a great advantage to the Cleveland district,
j If the inspector comes he cannot go through the whole

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 88 of 177)