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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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30338. From that bar you could send an iron bar before
you to the face of the coal where the top is brittle or
breaking 7 — ^That could be done. Personally I have not
had any experience of that kind, but that was the systiem
at the French qollieries referred to. I have had no personal
experience of that system, but I should imagine from what
I have read and from my practical experience that it would
be a good thing.

30339. It is not a question of complaining against any-
thing, but in your opinion that would be an improvement 7
— Yes.

30340. In your opinion that would reduce the number
of accidents 7 — ^Yes, it would, in my opinion.


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Mr. 30341. What about timbering the roads leading to the

B, Waring, faces ? Have you a system of timbering those roads ? —

No, it is absolutely left to the judgment of the ofl&cials with

20 Nov. 1907 regard to where they require bars in the roadways.

30342. There is no stipulation or regulation that these
bars should be put at a certain space ? — No : it does not
prove so in practice in my experience, and not otherwise
that I know of.

30343. You are a working colHer ? — ^Yes.

30344. In your opinion a system of putting up bars,
props, or chocks, at a certain distance would strengthen the
roof and reduce the number of accidents from falls ? — Yes,
that is my strong opinion.

30346. Is there any reason given for the absence of hds ?
— ^No, except in some respects. I think at many places
they have an idea that the men make shift and make
some Uds for themselves. I may say from my own per-
sonal experience, it being absolutely necessary to use
lids, it has occupied me and it has occupied my fellow
men a long time in making some sort of ud from broken
props, or hunting about the place. I think the manage-
ment perhaps have in mind that the men will manage
somehow, and that it will reduce the cost of timber. I
cannot give any other reason.

30346. You have to himt about for these pieces of
timber to make your lids of them ? — Exactly.

30347. It would meet your view largely if lids or timber
proper for lids should be specified among the suitable
timber to be used in working places ? — Yes, that is so.

30348. (Mr, Ratdiffe Ellis,) With reference to timbering
you have had a considerable experience at the face, I
believe ? — Yes. Out of 22 years in the mine I have had
16 or 17 years experience at the coal face.

30349. Then you thoroughly understand timbering ? —
Well, I think I do.

30360. Do you think that there is anybody who can
keep you as safe as you can yourself at your working
face ? — ^I think this, that with both myself and my fellow
men, the pressure, which comes naturally from competition
and trying to produce as much coal as possible, sometimes
leads us to risK things even against our better judgment,
whereas if there were more strict supervision we should
be kept more generally up to the mark. We are led against
our better judgment to sometimes take risks.

30361. I daresay that is so. If you exercise your better
judgment do you think you can keep yourselves as safe
as anybody can keep you ? With your knowledge of
timbering and watching the state of things round about,
do you think you can keep yourselves as safe as anybody
can keep you ? — ^Probably personally I think that.

30361a. If you had less time down the pit there would
be a greater disposition to take these risks ? — I think,
generally speaking, if these hd& of suitable timber were
provided there would not be so many accidents from men
taking those deliberate risks.

30362. You take them now because you want in the
time allowed you to get as much coal as you can, being
paid by the quantity of coal gotten ? — ^Yes, and because
of lack of timber.

30363. If you have less time allowed down the pit, the

freater will be the disposition to take these risks ? — No,
do not think that would be so. I believe if we worked
less hours there would be such provision for a regular
supply of boxes to do our work in that we should do our
work more regularly and more comfortably, and better.
At the present time miners often have to do their work
in rushes simply because there is on the part of the manage-
ment not proper provision for the supply of boxes. They
come in rushes, and we have to make rushes. That would
be attended to if we had less hours. Furthermore men
could not work at a higher pitch than they do during these

30364. You think if there were a better supply of boxes
and a supply of suitable timber, even with less hours than
now, you would get as much coal and keep yourselves as
safe ? — ^Yes.

30366. You mention at the end of your paper — I am
not asking you about the matters I asked Mr. Twist about
— ^investigation into accidents : " Where accidents end
fatally we advice the coroner's jury should be composed
of men who are or have been practical working miners,
and power should be conferred upon them to visit the
Boene of the accident if they so desire." Would you have
a special jury to investigate fatalities in collieries ? — ^Yes.



. 30366. You would iiave nobo^ qq the jury except
men who have been practical working miners ? — Men who
have worked in the pit.

30357. What advantage do you suppose that would be ?
— ^I think the advantages are apparent. They would have
a practical knowledge, and would be able to understand
the conditions which were named, and under which the
accident occurred.

30365. Do you think there is anybody in a colliery dis-
trict who would not understand what is said to him ? —
I do not think it is possible for any man to understand the
conditions of mining if he has not been in a mine.

30369. You would have a special jury to enquire into
these accidents ? — That is so.

30360. Is this the way you would provide for it ? You
would have to have a special list prepared. When a coroner
has to investigate these accidents his man goes out to get
a jury. You would have to have a special list prepared
for him. It would mean having a list prepared, and all
that sort of thing ? — It would carry that with it, I suppose.

30361. I want you to see what it means. There would
be a special list prepared periodically with a number of
selected names — the names of men who had been working
in the pit — and it would be from this list that the jury
would have to be summoned ? — It is my firm opinion
that it would assist arriving at the truth at inquests if
we had men who had been practical miners — ^if the jury
on the whole were composed of them.

30362. A special list would have to be made by some-
body of men working in mines who were qualified to serve
as jurors. Are you aware that there is a power in the Home
Office, if they think the facts have not come out, to have
another enquiry of their own ? — Yes.

30363. Do you not think that is sufficient ?— No. I do
not think that the further enquiry, unless they had actually
men visiting the place, would result in any different con-

30364. When they have an enquinr, a man goes to the
place and hears all that is to be said about it ? — ^My opinion
is that it would bo better, in the first instance, to have these
practical men on the jury.

30366. What is your objection to the present arrange-
ment ? If the Home Office should be of opinion that the
whole of the facts had not come out before the coroner
and the jury, the Home Secretary can order an enquiry
of his own, send his representative down, and hear all the
people have to say, look at the x>lace, and get the fullest
information, and make a report. What is the objection
to that arrangement ? Will you look at Section 46 of the
Act T * * Where it appears to a Secretary of State that a
formal investigation of any explosion or accident and of
its cause and circumstances is expedient, the Secretary
of State may direct such investigation to be held, and witn
respect to any such investigation the following provisions
shall have effect." Then it goes on to make provisions,
and it does not matter whether there is a death or not :
* * Where it appears to a Secretary of State that a formal
investigation of any explosion or accident and of its cause
and circumstances is expedient, the Secretary of State may
direct such investigation to be held." — ^I should object
to that, because it would be too cumbrous to get into
motion. We should probably have a difficulty in getting
an opinion expressed in that direction. As I said before,
investigation at the moment the accident occurred,
especially if the man could visit the scene of the accident,
would be the best enquiry.

30366. Very well ; that is your view. You are aware
that in 1902 some new rules for timbering were established
in Lancashire ? — I am.

30367. And" when that was done first of all the Home
Secretary suggested these rules, and then there were con-
ferences of employers and workmen to discuss them ? —

30368. There were a number of meetings ? — Yes.

30369. These rules were formulated as late as 1902 ?-—

30370. There is nothing in these rules suggesting what
you suggest now ? — No. I cannot account for that.

30371. I only want to ask you this. Do you know that
was never brought forward at any of these discussions on
behalf of the men T — I was not aware of that. This haa
been my opinion, my strong opinion, on the question of
aocidents long before that period.


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30372. I have nothing to say against it» but I am pointing
out that in 1902, when the timbering rules were discussed,
this view of yours was not brought forward ? — I was not
aware of that fact.

30373. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) In answer to the Chair-
man you agreed with Mr. Twist in the answers he had given
to the questions ? — Yes, I did.

30374. The only point you have brought before ub is
this question of timbering ?— Yes.

30375. Does that apply to Lancashire generally, or to
the colliery where you work ? — ^To all the collieries I have
worked in.

30376. Did you find a difficulty in getting lids at all
places you worked in ? — Some worse than others ; but
at all the places I have worked in, x>eriodically there
h&s been this dearth of suitable lids, and I may add timber
and props.

30377. Generally at the face you set a prop and a lid ? —

30378. Have you had much experience of bar timber
at the face ? — Yes, I have had to set bars all along during
my experience in the face.

30379. I understood you to say the reason they were not
put was because of the cost of the timber ? — ^That is what
I have had said in reply to me when I have been charged
for setting these bars at the distance psrmitted for safety.

30380. Is it in your contract to set bars ? — In the road-

30381. We are talking about the working face T — ^No ;
we simply set them for our own safety, if we are allowed.

30382. Is it part of your contract to set bars ? — ^No.
BeaUy it is the timbering of the coal face which is in the

30383. Setting bars in the face would be in all cases for
safety ? — ^Yes.

30384. Is it in your contract that you shall set such
timber, whether they are bars or props ? — No, there is
nothing specified in the contract.

30385. Would it be the case if you set bars you woul I
exp3ct to be paid so much a bar ? — No.

30386. They do not refuse on those grounds ? — No ;
the mere value of the timber.

30387. You suggest to the Ck>mmiB8ion in your experience
such is the nature of the roof with its sUps and faults, if
bars were set many roads that are now lost would be saved
in consequence ? — That is so ; £0 psr cent, of all accidents,
practically speaking, happen through falls of roof and side,
and I daresay 30 per cent, of them, probably more, happen
at the coal face, and the' biggest portion axe from roof at
the coal face. My opinion is that there should be a thorough
and regular provision of lids varying from 18 inches or
1 foot of a suitable thickness, say 5 or 6 feet long, and that
there should be a variety of sizes of lids. Of course long
lids would have two props under to stop the pressure
pulling them down at the end.

30388. As to the number of accidents from falls of roof
and sides, there are no two opinions about that. It is a
matter of statistics, and it demonstrates itself. You suggest
as most of the accidents happen at the face it becomes a
serious question. It is the business of this Commission
to remedy that. In your judgment you say that if there
was a plentiful supply of Uds, and you were permitted to
set these bars with longer lids, or two props, many of these
accidents would be avoided ? — I believe they would be

30389. You have arrived at that opinion as a practical
workman from what you have seen ? — ^I have arrived at
that opinion from my own experience.

30390. Have you in your experience ever had an accident
with any of your men working with you or for you ? — Not
immediately or exactly at my side, but in the same district.
I refer to a certain place where a man was killed. There
was no proper provimcm of lids. It was a bad place for
slips, and was noted for large slips, and in the absence of
leaving proper lids they set round props, and sometimes
one or two props underneath. I could not say that it
was definitely through a prop that a man was killed, but he
was killed among b«i slip(«, and I knew that was the regular
way we timbered, because we could not get a sufficient
supply of lids.

30391. The timber was insufficient to sustain the roof ? —

30392. It was not so secure because of the difficulty of Mr.
getting good Uds ?— Exactly. H, Waring.

30393. {Mr, SmiUie.) Have you had much experience 20 Nov. 1907

in lonffwall workings in Lancashire ? — ^That is what I almost

entirely work in.

30394. Most of your experience has been in longwaU
workings ? — Yes,

Do your workmen pack their own goaf them-
selves ? — It is arranged by a contractor, as a nSe.

30396. The ripping is done by contractors ; they put
on the packing and take down the ripping ? — Yes.

30397. Do the workmen at the face put any waste
into the packing ? — ^The miner, you mean ?

30398. Yes ?— Yes, often.

30399. In spite of the present packing the roof comes
down gradually as you get away from where the roof Ii
ripped on to the packing ? — ^Yes.

30400. When the ripping is done in the road-head, what
is the system of timbering there : is' there any timbering
put in at all, unless it is obvious that there is bad stone ? —
Not unless ^t is bad. In most places there are no regular
defined orders that they shall put bars up. In some places
there are ; in other places there are not. In cases where
it Lb obvious that it is dangerous the bars are put up.

30401. If the rippers, when they have finished with
the ripping, find a bad stone, they may put a bar to it
to keep it up for the time being ? — Yes,

30402. If the fireman finds a portion of the road was bad
he may himself, or on his instructions there might be bars
or props put up to a bad part of it ? — ^Yes.

30403. A good many accidents occur on the drawing
roads between the face and where the drawers land their
stuff ? — Yes, that is so.

30404. From falls of roof or sides ?— Yes.

30405. Would it not be a great deal safer in long wall
workings if there were systematic timbering in which
there were props and crowns put up systematically every
2, 3 or 4 feet, as the case might b3, whether or not
there was any apparent danger for the time being. Would
not that keep the road safer ? — Yes, I am sure it would.

30406. Both from side crush, if put wide enough to
catch the side, and from top crush ? — That is so.

30407. You think that might prevent some of the
accidents from roof and sides in the roadways which take
place at the present time ? — ^Yes, and I may give you a
personal experience in regard to this matter. I have also
worked in the roof as a ripper, and I have known places
where a contractor had the contract for packing the roof
down and he had not the contract for putting bars, and the
consequence was that we actually had to put the bars up to
save our own lives, otherwise we simply left the thing as
it was. We had so much work to do in such a length of
time, and if we put these bars up— it has occurrod both
with myself and other workmen — ^we have put bars up
because we could not tolerate the danger, and we have
been two or three hours later, for the same money, than
our time appointed to go home. Unfortunately, on many
occasions dangerous places were left continually through
the contractor not having the contract for timbering
along with the roof.

30408. A contractor for ripping takes the contract
by the yard or fathom, and in some cases only takes the
ripping and stowing or building of the places ; in other
cases he is responsible for the timbering of that place ? —

30409. Sometimes they are not responsible and are not
paid for the timbering ? — ^No.

30410. The rippers employed by them on day's wages
have a certain amount of ripping to do ; but in this case
you refer to, in order to keep yourselves safe you put up
bars which kept you considerably beyond the time you
could have done your usual work ? — That was so in the
place I refer to. ^

30411. As a general system would it not be well to have
roadways, heaSlings, levels and other places properly
systematicaUy timbered when the ripping is done, to
prevent accident from falls of side and roof ? — I am
strongly of opinion that that should be done.

30412. That is not provided for at the present time ?


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Mr. David Watts Morgan, called and examined



Statement of Witness.

j[fy^ 30413. (1) For the due canying out of the provisions,

D, W, Morgan ^^I'^ady in force, of the Mines Regulation Act, it is absolutely

" — "j Necessary that a greater staff of Government inspectors
20 Nov. 1907 1 should be appointed. The present staff is far from being

N J adequate and able to cope with the work. The present

number, highly qualified and competent as they are, are
unable, through want of time, to make periodical inspections
of every mine in the South Wales coalfield. The inspection
of mines should be efficiently augmented by the appoint-
ment of what I call working-men inspectors, so that the
inspections could be made within a stated period as laid
down by the General Rule 38.

(2) At present the workmen do not genersjly take
i^yantage of the provisions contained in General Rule 38
«nd, to a very large extent, it remains dormant. W^e,
as a Federation, try to encourage the workmen to, at all
times, take advantage of this provision, but notwithstanding
that the Federation is prepared and does pay the expenses,
we find some opposition amongst the men to carry out
our advice in this matter.

(3) Inspection under General Rule 4. I should h'ke
to see some provision being made so that the inspection
can be more efficiently carried out. The number of
places should be more limited thsn at present. The area
to be covered by the fireman has a tendency to be over-
much, and cannot be efficiently covered within the time
stipulated by the Act of Parliament. The actual working
places that the men are employed at are generally the
only places thoroughly inspected; the travelling roads,
to some extent, are not given sufficient attention to unless
tile dimger is such that it forces itself upon the sight, or
knowlec^, of the fireman in passing.

(4) The discipline and the due observance of the mining
rules would be much better insured were the officials, who
have, more or less, to directly deal with the workmen who
are sending out the coal, to have only the duty of seeing
these provisions duly carried out, rather than to, in many
cases, have the responsibility of looking after the output
of coal from the various districts.

(5) I prefer, where men are found guilty of breaches of
the rules, that they should be prosecuted rather than
fined in the colliery office. In my opinion it would have
a most salutory effect upon the enforcement of these rules,
because attention is thus directed to these unfortunate
lapses on the part of men, connected with the mines, in
the carrying out of their duties.

(6) There is room for a great deal of improvement
in the method of establishing Special Rules, in the direction
of allowing the workmen's representatives the opportunity
of putting forward their views and the views of the practical
workmen employed in the coal mines with regard to the
composition or form in which such Special Rules should
be drafted. Special Rules when once estaUished should
be published and copies placed in the hands of everyone
employed in and about the mines.

I have advocated the opinion that it would be a great
advantage if boys were taught the Special Rules in the last
year before leaving school, so that where it was known
boys would be going into the pits they would have
some knowledge of the dangers and precautions which they
have to observe in order to prevent accidents.

(7) A systematic method of timbering should be rigidly
enforced. The system to be agreed upon after a consulta-
tion with the parties affected, so that a system most
adaptable, or suitable, to the seam worked should be
adopted at each colliery.

Timbering of all descriptions, which is very important
and necessary for the protection of life, should be largely
at the discretion of the workman to put them up after he
has complied with the amount of timber required by the
regulations laid down by s3rBtematic timbering. When
a workman considers that it is necessary for the safety of
life and limb to put up any timber, of any description
above the agreed-upon number laid down by the method
I have spoken of, no official should have the right to say
that this timber cannot be put up without he gives consent
to the same.

(8) Haulage accidents would be greatly diminished if
there was a system of keeping one side of the road clear
and wider from the rails in order to enable workmen to
escape from accidents that are now taking place in conse-
quence of the narrowness of the roads at some of the stages.
In my opinion, during the course of the working shift no

one should be allowed to travel, unless absolutely necessary^
over these various engine-planes, and I think some arrange-
ment could be made also that where it is necessary for
dark lamps to be sent back to the pit bottom to be re-
lighted, this should be done by a competent light-carrier,
whose duty it would be to cany these lamps from the
engine parting back to the pit bottom and then give them
to the young eollier bovs and others who would be waiting
for the return of their lamps.

(9) I certainly agree with mine inspectors that safety ^
lamps should be introduced into all mines where there is
the slightest danger of an explosion, and I think that '
Government inspectors should have full power to order
the adoption of the same. It would be well that safety
lamps, i possible, should be standardised, and as far as
possible the same kind of lamp adopted throughout the
whole of the coalfield. The screw-locked lamps should
be entirely done away with.

(10) In all fiery mines I am of opinion that it might be
made compulsory for the holes to be charged by a competent
person appointed to do this work, instead of leaving this to
be done by the men as it is permitted at present. It
might also be made compulsory that the explosives should
be supplied by the colliery company so that they should be
certain, at all times, that the proper kind of explosives
was being used and that, if it were necessary for shot-firing
at aU, eveiy possible precaution was being takefl so as to
prevent the possibility of an explosion.

(11) In my opinion preparation should be made at each
coUiery and the latest appliances provided in order to
enable men to descend a mine as quickly as possible after
serious accidents in the shape of explosions and so forth.
There is not, to my knowledge, any fixed method of dealing
with this grave and important phase of colliery life such
as we see in fire-brigades and the rescue of seamen.

(12) I would also suggest that at each mine a separate
plan or diagram should be hung up at some place adjacent
to the colliery, on the surface, showing the method of

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 98 of 177)