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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 9 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 9 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


20323. You have not thought the matter out 7 — No.

20324. As regards haulage, you would like to have,
separate travelling roads wherever possible. I suppose
in an old colliery that would often be an extremely difficult
and expensive matter 7 — I know one or two old coUieries,
very old, where they have separate travelling roads, viz.,
one I worked in.

20325. You think on account of the nature of the
strata it would often be difficult to have a separate travell-
ing road, I suppose 7— Yes.

20326. By " wherever possible " you mean where the
expense would not be prohibitive ? — Yes.

20327. Do you think on one side at least in the whole
district there should be plenty of room to walk ? With
regard to that it has been pointed out to us that some-
times where there is plenty of room to walk, the road
may be very dangerous because this pathway that ought
to be free and ought to enable men to step off the line
at once into safety is often filled up with rubbish and
debris in such a way that the men cannot walk along
it?— Yes.

20328. Is that so in your district ? — I cannot say that
it is.

20329. You have not noticed that ?— I do not think
it is.

20330. You say that it would be a great advantage to
have the refuge holes whitewashed on the edge and inside.
That, I believe is generally done ? — ^It is in our district.

20331. Perhaps you would suggest that that might be
made a ceneral rule, that all refuge holes shomd be
whitewashed, and put it into the Act of Parliament ? — It
would be an advantage, I think.

20332. Do you think it is a matter of sufficient importance
to be put into an Act of Parliament and made compulsory 7
— It is an important matter, but that it is sufficiently im-
portant to be made a general rule I would not like to say.

20333. I suppose the expense would not be great 7 — ^No.

20334. Then you say that roads should be as straight as
possible, that the dip should be as regular as possible, hills
and swamps being avoided. I suppose those are aU things
that should be looked to. In paragraph 13 you say you
think that drags should bo compidsory. What do you
mean by * * drags " — ^things to stop the trains SLoina down-
hiU 7-Yes.

20335. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) It is a piece of iron sticking
out behind the trams 7 — ^They are called ** daggers" in
some parts, and * ' drags " in others.

(Mr. F. L. Davis.) They are called "devils" in some

20336. (Chairman.) Here is a Lancashire Special Rule,
which seems to meet your proposal : ' * Where the manager
directs, the trailer or devil must be attached when the full
load is drawn against the incline by mecms of a single rope
or single chain other than a *' lashing chain." That is
merely where the manager directs. That means it is in
the power of the manager to do it or not as he pleases.
Would you suggest that in all cases the trailer or devil
must be attached when the full load is drawn against the
incline 7 — 1 think it ought to be done.

20337-8. You think it might be made obligatory instead
of being in the discretion of the manager. Another Rule
is, "Stop-blocks, warricks" — ^what is a ** warriok" 7 —

(Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) It is something to enable the tubs
to be stopped.

Digitized by




{Chairman,) '* Loose rails or other safeguard shall be
provided at the top of all jigs to prevent the trams acci-
dentally running down, and the persons whose duty it is
shaU use the same." There, apparently, this must be
done : it is not in the discretion of the manager. Would
you suggest that this 50 (b) new Rule, Lancashire Special
Rules, might be made a General Rule : '' Stop-blocks,
warricks, loose rails or other safeguard shall be provided
at the top of all jigs to prevent the trams accidentally
running down, and the persons whose duty it is shall use
the same ? " — ^Yes.

20339. Tou think that might be universally applied all
over the country t — ^I do.

20340. That would, to a great extent, meet your x)oint ?

20341. Then you say that over-chains should be used
to check or stop any runaway trams, and competent
persons, not inexperienced boys, should be employed.
Over-chains are very often used, I believe. Do yon think
their use should be made compulsory where there is a train
of trams, more than one tram going along the road 7 — Are
you speaking of trams loaded with coal 7

20342. Yes. — I do not know that I am prepared to go
as far as that. I think they should be used where the men
are riding in the trams.

20343. Do you find that any inexperienced boys are
employed with these trams 7 — ^Yes.

20344. What aged boys are employed 7 — Boys com-
mencing to work in the pits.

20345. The first thing they do is to go with these trams 7
— Yes, in some cases.

20346. Before they understand the danger 7 — ^Yes.

20347. On the other hand it would be desirable, probably,
to have active young men employed in that duty, as the
older men might not find it so easy to get out of the way.
The younger you are the more active you are 7 — ^Yes ;
but if a boy commences to work in a mine at 14 years of
age and has a year at other kinds of work, and gets to know
something about the inside of the mine before he is put on
to this dangerous work, I think it is better.

20348. You do not object to boys under 17 or 18 who
have been at work in a mine a considerable time and who
understand underground matters, being employed to look
after these trams, but you say that boys ought to be em-
ployed at least a year in some other kind of work to accustom
themselves to underground work before they are employed
on these trams ? — ^Yes.

20349. Then you say that each person should know his
own work and be responsible for it, so that there may be
no unnecessary division of responsibility, and that the
engineman especially should not have any other duty.
What duties does he perform at present which would
interfere with his duty, as engineman ? — ^I cannot give any
case of that just now, of that responsibility being divided.
I have no case in mind, but I have heard more than once
of enginemen being called upon to do other work that has
taken their attention off their own particular work.

20350. What sort of enginemen ? — A haulage engineman:

20361. {Mr. F, L. Davis.) Underground ?— Yes.

20352. {Chairman.) A haulage engineman underground
is sometimes taken away from his work «nd made to do
something else 7 — ^Yes.

• 20353. Do you know whether that is a common practice ?
— ^I have known them called away to do their firing.

20354. {Mr. SmtUie.) That is on the surface ?— No,

20355. {Chairman.) Do yon mean firing shots 7— No,
putting slack on the fires.

20366. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Stoking 7— Yes.

20357. {Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) In what part of the mme is
the boiler 7 — ^In the pit.

20358. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) Whereabouts in the pit 7—
300 yards from the pit bottom.

20359. {Mr. Baldip. EUis.) Were the men at the end
where the oogine is 7 — He would be some yards away from
his engme. He would have to go round to his boiler to
the other end of his engine-house.

20360. {Chairman.) How far— 100 yards 7— No, perhaps

20361. You have known a man called away for stoking
work 50 yards away from his engine 7— Yes.

20362. Which he ought to be attending to, and you Mr. J. O.
think that he ought always to be on the spot 7 — Yes. Hancock.

20363. Have the men made any complaints to the 30May,1907.
manager upon .that score 7— Not that I know of.

20364. You do not know what the managers would say
to that 7 — No. I have seen it done.

20365. You know yourself that it has been done? —

20366. Then in paragraph 14 you say, as regards other
classes of accidents, that mine officials should he the only
persons allowed to carry explosives, that they should fire
all shots, recover tmused or miss-fire explosives, and
accoimt for all that they receive. It has been suggested
to us that the same person should not fire the shot and
take down the explosive, but that there should be two
different persons, one to take the explosive and t3ie other
to fire the shot? — Yes.

20367. Do you think that that would be a prox>er pre-
caution, that in no case should the man who fires the shot
take the explosive down into the mine 7 — ^Would they
both be shot-firers?

20368. They would both assist at tho firing, and to some
extent the one would be a check on the other in case any
one of them were to infringe the rule. There would always
be two persons conc^ned in the shot-firing 7 — That does
not come into conflict with what I have submitted, does

20369. No, you do not go so far as that. You say min^
officials should bo the oiUy persons allowed to carry ex
plosives, they should fire all shots. Therefore, according •
to you, you see no objection to a mine official taking down
an explosive and firing a shot himHclf 7 — No.

20370. Then with regard to miss-fires, would you have
any General Rule prohibiting a man from going to the
place of the shot-fire for a certain time after the miss-fire
had taken place 7 Would you say, for instance, that he
must not go near the place for half an hour, or for some
considerable time, in case the miss-fire shot should go off 7 —
I think it is not advisable for him to go to the place again
directly after, and I do not think they are allowed to do

20371. However, you have not thought that matter
out 7 — No.

20372. Then you say that shot-firing should be done
between shifts, especially in deep, fiery, and dry and dusty
mines. Could you arrange for that throughout Notting-
hamshire ? Could that be done without seriously impeding
the working of the mine 7 — I do not think that there are
many pits in Nottinghamshire that would come tmder the
designation of deep, dry, and dusty ; perhaps the Leen
Valley pits would, but comparatively speaking there is no
shot-firing there. What there is is done between the

20373. So far as shot-fibring is concerned, in your district
you do not consider that 8n3rthing further need be done
with regard to making it compulsory, except that shot
firing should be done only between shifts 7 — ^We have no
room to complain uxxm that x)ointv I think, in Notts.

20374. In paragraph 15 you say that winding-enginemen
might be compelled to obtain certificates of competency.
What sort of exammation should they have 7 — I do not
know that I could define the kind of examination ; I am
not an engine-winder.

20375. As a matter of fact, do you find that the winding-
engineman.does not understand his duty sometimes 7 — No.

20376. An incompetent man is sometimes appointed ? —
No, not that I know ol

20377. You have no knowledge of that 7 — No.

20378. You consider enginemen as a rule are quite com-
petent to perform their duties 7 — Yes.

20379. In fact yon do not know of any instance where
they are not competent 7 — No, I do not know oi any.

20380. Then in paragraph 16 you say that detaching
hooks and safety catches should be provided. No doubt
there are types of detaching hooks and safety catches
which are usually provided. Do you think it might
reasonably be made compulsory to provide detaching
hooks and safety catches 7 — I do not think they are usually
provided in NottinghauL

20381. They ar^ in some parts ?^In some parts the^

Digitized by





Mr. /. G. 20382. Do you think it would bo reasonable to make it
Hancock. compulsory that they should be provided ? — I know that
there are objections to them in some places, but I think
after all that they should be compulsory.

20383. You think they might be made compulsory ? —

20384. Then you say that appliances for shutting off
steam, applying brake and stopping engine at a certain point
in case the engineman fails to do so, should be provided.
There are appliances of that kind that are to a considerable
esttent, I believe, provided. Would ycm also make it com-
pulsory that these appliances should in every case be
provided ? — That is a point that I do not think I can say
much about. I read an article in the " Iron and Coal
Trades' Review" upon this particular appliance. I do
not remember much what it said, but It struck me that it
was a very fine invention, and might be used with ad-

20385. You have not gone very much into that matter ?
— No.

20386. (Mr, F. L. Davis.) Was that shutting off steam
when the cage gets to a certain position ? — Yes ; I think
it was called an ** arrester."

{Mr, SmiUte.) Bertram's, I think it is. If you think it
IS a good thing, why do you not thirk it would be well to
recommend it as a general thing ? You would not be
prepared to give an opinion as to whether it should be
provided or not ?

20387. (Mr, RatcUffe EUis.) He is cautious ; he does not
, want to recommend a thing unless ho is sure that it is a

good thing.— ^I put that qualification in ; I do not know
much about it ; I have not seen it, and my only recollection
which is a dim one, is an article I read in a mining journal
Upon this particular matter.

20388. (Mr, Smillie.) You have not seen it in practical
use t — No.

(Chairman.) In paragraph 17 you say that wastes should
be filled so far as dirt will do this, and no dirt brought to
bank unnecessarily ? I suppose that would be the rule
in all collieries, that dirt should not be brought to the bank
unnecessarily. That is rather a checkweighing matter, is
it not, that they send dirt up unnecessarily ?

(Mr. Wm, Abraham.) It is not the same question at all.

2038d. (Chairman.) It is rubbish which has to be sent
out. If it can be stowed away underground it should be 1
— Yes, that is my point, they bring it out sometimes
because it is near to the pit bottom, and they can bring it
out at less cost than put it into the workings.

20390. (Mr. RatcUffe EUia.) It^ffects safety ?— Yes, that
18 my point, it affects the safety of the mine.

(Chairman.) As far as possible it should be stowed away
underground and not brought to the surface.

20391. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Places are left empty which
could be filled with this rubbish that is sent out. Where
gas is it would accumulate in that place ?~The waates are
not filled in some cases. There is plenty of room iij the
wastes for this dirt and rubbish, but instead of being drawn
into the working faces and stowed there, it is put on to the
6ftge and sent up, because the dirt happens to be near the
pit bottom.

20392. (Chairman.) Then you say that iron trams are
safer than wooden ones, especially in fiery mines. How are
they safer T— I thmk they will not carry the dust.

20893. The dust does not so easilv shake out of an iron
tram. Is it more dust-tight ?— I think there will not be
the dust to shake out j the wood would cany more dust
than the iron, would it not 7

(Chairman.) That is rather a question as to whether the
wood is weU seasoned.

20394. (Mr. F, L. Davi3.) It is less likely to crack and
break you mean ? — Yes.

(Mr. BtUcHffe EUis.) Thb dust must be there ; the iron
probably Will not be better than the wood.

20396. (Chairman.) In paragraph 19 you say that the
employment of unskilled Idbour is dangerous, and should
be discouraged. You mean that unskilled persons should
not go to the working places ?— That is SO.

20396. Particularly with regard to timbering. A man
ought to know somfethilig about timbbring before he is
allowed to go to the working place ?— He Would know

Something of timbering before he went to the working place,
iit what he had learned about it woidd bo learned on the
main roads

20397. With regard to timbering, do yon suggearti that it
should be the duty of some mine official to go round to the
working places constantly with a view to looking after the
timbering, advising a man ss to what he should do with
regard to the timl^ring, at all events, if an inexperienced
man ? — ^No, I do not know that I suggest that ; in fact, it
is to some extent done now with regard to all the men.

20398. You have nothing to complain of in the way of the
men being too much left alone in the matter of timbering ?
— No.

20399. Then you say that ambulance proficiency should
be encouraged on the part of the officials and workers. I
think that we all agree as to that. Then with regard to the
investigation of mine accidents, you say that coroners in
your district are all that could be desired, and that the
relatives of deceased should have ample and clear notice
of post-mortem examinations. Is that not so ? Have you
any complaints to make upon that point, that the relatives
do not have sufficient notice ? — ^We have had two cases
quite recently where men had been killed, a man in each
case, and the relatives of the deceased did not know that
any post-mortem examination was being made until I told
them at the inquest.

20400. How are they to know 7 How are persons who
hold the post mortem to know who are the relatives 7 How
do they find out 7 — In both of th^e cases the body was at

leliberately did not send
lown to be relatives.

20401. It was known, and the;
any notice to those persons well

20402. (Mr. RatcUffe ElUs.) You say that the body was
at home 7 — Yes, it was at the house of the relatives. In
one case the post mortem was made at home, and in the
other case the body was removed, and in both cases the
relatives did not know that a post mortem had been made
until the inquest was held

(Chairman.) You mean relatives outside the house 7

20403. (Mr. RatcUffe EUis.) Perhaps you mean in the
house ; the doctor came and they did not know what he
was doing 7 — ^They did not know what he was doing. The
coroner sent a doctor, and the colliery company sent a
doctor, and in both cases the relatives of the deceased were
not medically represented.

20404. (Chairm^an.) Even the relatives in the house did
not know what was going on 7 — ^They did not know what
was going on.

20405. Do you suggest any alteration in the law 7 — ^I do
not know that I can suggest any alteration in the law, but
I do think that it is very necessary that the relatives
should be clearly informed that a post-mortem examination
ia going to be made, so that they can have the same oppor-
tunity of being medically represented at it as the em-
ployers have. The relatives of the deceased, generally
speaking, are not so well educated as the employers, and
the matter has to be put very plainly to them before they
understand what it means.

20406. I suppose it is only in very exceptional cases 7-«
They are exceptional, but we have had those two quite

20407. It is not a great dereliction of duty on the part of
the coroner, or whoever ought to give notice 7 — ^I think it
was the constable and not the coroner.

20408. The constable ought to have told the relatives.
It was his duty to tell the relatives, and he did not perform
his duty. It was a case of an inferior officer not doing a
statutory duty 7 — ^He did not make them understand what
was going to be done.

(Mr. Cunynghame.) I think it is a matter of djscrelioil ;
do not think it is a statutory duty.

(Mr. RatcUffe EUis.) I should tMnk this case arose ih
connection with the Workmen's Compensation Act That
is where the difficulty arises sometimes.

20409. (Chairman.) Probably cases of that sort might
be met by a circular being sent round to coroners (if those
cases were at aU frequent), tolling them that they ought to
take some steps to let the relatives know what was going on7
— Yes, in one case the man had been injured by being struck
on the head by a piece of stone thrown by another. It was
quite accideiital. In the other case the man ruptured
himself ; he was turning over some Chailis they were
annealing and died a fortnight after ; and in neither case
were the relatives of the deceased represented medically at
the post-mortem examination.

20410. (Mr. F. L» Davis.) "those cases were quite 6X0ep->
tional 7— They were exceptional I am pleAsed to dfljr.

Digitized by



' 20411. iMr Cunynghame.) You would not like it to be
made compulsory to send round to a widow a thing of that
sort abruptly ? You would not like to make it statutory ?
Giving notice to the relatives ought to be done a little
judiciously, that is what I feel ? — ^Yes, I feel the same.

20412. Can you suggest anything so that it shoidd not
go abruptly to the widow ? It might go to the nearest male
relative or something of that kind. If you make a law it
has to be obeyed, and it might give great pain without a
correlative good ? — ^That is so. I do not see how it can be
met by any statutory law, but I thought it was wise to
mention the matter to you because they are unpleasant
incidents we do not like to have.

20413. (Chairman,) Then as regards any further enquiry
under Section 45 of the Act, you think anybody desiring an
enquiry should be able to ask for one as of right ? — ^Yes.

20414. That if any person interested thinks that the
coroner's inquest has not, for instance, brought out all the
facts that ought to be brought out you think that power
should be given to any single person, however much inter-
ested he might be in the matter, to compel the Secretary of
State to hcSd another enquiry ? — When you say an inter-
ested person you mean a person interested on either side ?

20416. Yes ? — I think, if an interested person has reason
to think that all the facts have not been brought out, and
that an enquiry is necessary, it i^ould be made.

20416. So that any person, in your opinion, supposing he
was interested in the matter, and thought, or anybody else
thought, that the facts had not been properly brought out,
should be empowered to compel the Secretary of State to
ofder another enquiry ? — I do not know what you mean by
any one interested person. All that I have in mind, just
now, are the employer, on the one hand, and perhaps the
widow it may be of the deceased on the other nand, or an
organisation that the deceased was a member of.

20417. We will say then that if a widow thinks that all
the facts have not been brought out, although she may in
point of fact have nothing to go upon, but stiU if she wishes
to have a further investigation, it should be compulsory on
the Secretary of State to order one ? — I think so. I think
it is necessary to have all the particulars and place the
matter beyond dispute, if possible.

20418. The last paragraph is about safety lamps. You
say they are inconvenient, I suppose, because they do not
give so much light as other l^nts. You also say they
are injurious. In what way are they injurious ? — ^They
are injurious to the sight more particularly.

20419. Is that so?— Yes.

20420. What evidence have you got in support of that
contention ? — At present we have trouble with nearly
every colliery owner in Nottinghamshire because so many
men have had to come out of the pit owing to failing sight,
and they have a difficulty in finding work on the top.

20421. Is this a new thing 7 — No, it is not a new thing.

20422. There is a disease 7 — ^It is nystagmus.

20423. We have had some evidence already, I think,
about this disease, and it seems to be an open question
whether it is caused by the dimness of the light or by a man
working in a particular position 7

20424. {Mr, Enoch Edwards.) Or both 7— Or both.

20426. (Chairman,) That is what you mean by injurious,
that it produces this particular disease 7 — ^Yes.

20426. You say the use of them should not be unneces-
sarily extended. There is a great deal in the word " un-
necessarily." Do you think that the use of safety lamps is
unnecessarily extended in your district 7 — ^I do,

\ 20427. There are certain mines where safety lamps are
in compulsory use, and you think, in some cases, that is
. unnecessary 7 — I do.

20428. I think the mine inspectors are of a contrary
opinion. The drift of the evidence of the mine inspectors
was that safety lamps were not employed in all cases where
they ought to be 7 — That is so : that is their opinion.

20429. You put your opinion against theirs 7 — Yes, it
may be presumption on my part, but I think they are in
some pits where they ought not to be.

20430 On account of their producing this disease, and on

I account of it being less pleasant to work with safety lamps

than with naked lights 7 — Yes, and, I think, the pits could

be ventilated quite sufficiently to make them safe to work in

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 9 of 177)