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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 99 of 177)
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ventilation and the roads, also the doors, immediately under
the pit bottom, up to such point as the ventilation was
being separated for the various districts in tlie colliery.

30413a. {Chairmom.) Are you a miners' agent at Forth ?

30414' First of all you say that the present staff of
inspectors is far Irom being adequate, and you want
working-men inspectors to be appointed. Is that all you
want, or do you want more chief inspectors and more
assistant inspectors of the same class as are now appointed 7
— Yes. If you would allow me to supplement what I say
there with regard to that I should like to do so ?

30415. Yes. — In my opinion the inspection could
made much more efficient if the districts were smaller
and a chief inspector appointed.

30416. How many districts would you have ? Would
you divide the present districts into two, roughlv ? If
you had two inspectors where there is now one, would that
be enough, and, say, two assistant inspectors ? Would
you double the number of chief inspectorj and the number
of assistant inspectors ? — Yes, and a little more.

30417. You would rather more than double the number
of chief inspectors and assistant inspectors, and also have
in addition to that a third class of working-men inspectors ?
— ^Yes ; of course the geographical position of the districts
would have a great deal to do with regard to that. Where
the district would adapt itself, as our district would,
I would suggest this. If we take the two vallejrs which
comprise what we call the Rhondda Valley that in itself
forms itself into a district which, in my opinion, should
be under a chief inspector.

30418. You would have a chief inspector for that ? —

30419. Roughly speaking, you would say that you ought
to have more than double the present number of inspectors
and assistant inspectors, and also a third class of inspectors?
— That is so.

30420. How would you appoint the third class of
insp3CtorB ? Would you leave the Government to appoint
them ? — Yes, I think that would be the best way.

30421. You do not suggest the men themselves should
appoint the third class and that the Government should
pay them ? — The men should certainly have some voice
in the appointment of them. jr^-*.l 3 ..^ .






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30422. They might have power to suggest names ? —
Yes ; make representations to that end.

30423. How much pay would you give to those third
class inspectors ? — Supposing we say £4 or £5 a week.

3C424. You would give as much as £4 or £5 a week to
them ?— Yes.

30425. How many of that class would you have to each
inspector's district ? — Speaking for our own district, I
think we should at least have three.

30426. You say then, perhaps, on an average throughout
the kingdom you would want three of this class of insx>ector8
to one chief inspector. You think that everjr chief in-
spector ought to have three of these men under him ? —

30427. That is about the proportion you suggest ? —
Perhaps I am not making my meaning clear. I am taking
our own district for forming my opinion with regard to
this matter, and if our own district were formed into a
separate inspectorship with a chief, I think we ought to
have at least three working-men inspectors there.

30428. With regard to the inspections by the workmen
tmder General RiSe 38, you find some opposition among
the men to carry out your advice in this matter. You fina
a disinclination on the part of the men to avail themselves
of that power ? — ^Yes.

30429. How do you propose to remedy that ? You
think it important that they should have this power and
exercise it ? — For the reason that that is the only way
by which the colliery can be inspected as a whole under
the present provisions. If wor^ng-men were appointed
as inspectors, who could examine thoroughly every comer
and nook in the mine, the provision so far as Rule 38 is
concerned could be done away with.

30430. If you had your way with regard to the in-
spectors, you are not sure whether anything more would
be necessary. You think Rule 38 might be repealed ? —
Yes, that is so.

30431. You would have instead some inspectors who had
all the duties of a Government inspector, and also all the
duties that now devolve on the men, or which might devolve
on them if they carried them out under Rule 38 T — There is
so very little done now under Rule 38, as I point out in
the evidence that I give. It is dormant in our district
almost at the present moment.

30432. You think that the inspection of mines before
the commencement of each shift under General Rule 4 is
not sufficiently carried out, and that it is partly not suffi-
ciently carried out because the districts are too large ? —
That is so.

30433. Do you say it is too large in all the mines with
which you have any acquaintance, or only in certain
mines ? — I can only speak for the Rhondda VaDey,
the district that I come from. The tendency is that the
districts are getting much too large for the Bremen to be
able to examine.

30434. That is no doubt according to your opinion the
case in a good many districts. IX> you ihmk that is
universal, or do you think there are places where the dis-
tricts are not too large ? — I have no knowledge outside
our own district.

30435. In your district you say they are too large —
all the firemen's districts in the mines with which you are
acquainted ? — Generally speaking, that is so.

30436. Not always ?— Not always.

30437. Then you also say that the discipline and the
due observance of the mining Rules would be much better
ensured 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 various districts :
your complaint is a complaint we have several times heard
before, that these firemen have to do duty that they ought
not to perform, and that as they are called upon to psrform
these other duties with regard to some extent the manage-
ment of the mine, and which have nothing to do with
safety, that their usefulness as a means of preventing
accidents is 'fiomewhat impaired ? — Yes, it is very much

30438. You require two things: first of all that the
district should be smaller, and secondly that the firemen
in each district should only have to attend to the safety
of the mines ? — ^Yes, that is so.

30430. As regards breaches of rules, you desire that
the men should be prosecuted rather than be fined ? —

30440-1. You find that is the general feeling among the Mr.

men themselves T — I could not say — especially the men J>.W. Morgan

who are guilty of committing the breaches — I daresay if '

we selected them they would prefer to go to the colliery ^^ N ov. 1907
office, but generally speaking I think the men prefer to
be dealt wim by the magistrates rather than by the colliery

30442. You would not have a fine for any breach
of any rule whatever ? — ^None. I think the mere fact of
the men being taken before the Court in respect of breaches
of discipline which afiEect the safety of the mine, would
be a great advantage, and there would be the fear always
before the men of being brought before the Court, and I
think that would prevent these breaches taking place.

30443. Then with regard to setting up Special Rules,
you say that the workmen's representatives should have

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. Your complaint
is that you are not called in to consultation at a sufficiently
early period ; that the mine-owners have already put
forward certain Special Rules that they desire should be
observed before they ask your advice at all ? — Yes, that
is so.

30444. You suggest your advice should be asked at %
much earlier period in the matter ? — Yes.

30445. While these Rules are being thought about
by the mine-owners, and before they are promulgated ?
— ^That is so.

30446. For the purpose of putting your views before
them, I suppose now if the workmen were very much
interested in setting up any Special Rule they would have
no difficulty in putting their views before the Home
Office. You could either do it through a mine inspector
or write direct to the Home Office, and no doubt it would
receive attention there ? — ^That is so, but we still believe
that we ought to have the opportunity which you have
referred to in the first instance of stating the views of the
workm3n in the course of the Rules being drafted, or in
the process of their being foimed.

30447. It is not sufficient that the rules "when once
drafted and agreed to by the mine owners should be put
before you. You think you ought to have an opportunity
of expressing your opinion before the mine owners have
pledged themselves to certain rules ? — That is so. May
I point out we find in some cases that the rules are very
difficult to carry out because of not being framed properly.

30448. You can always object to them when they have
been framed, and your objections are listened to, I believe.
Can you not do tnat ? — ^Yes, that is so, but after a good
deal of trouble. It is a long way to go about it ; in our
opinion it could be best done at the very commencement.

30449. You think that could be done at an earlier stage ?

30450. But perhaps the mine owners, not having
absolutely promulgated the Special Rules might be more
willing to listen to argument. When promulgated
they might not be so willing to listen to any suggestions
of yours ? — ^Yes.

30451. You think that would be so. Then you suggest
and advocate the opinion that it would be a great advan-
tage if boys were taught the Special Rules in the last year
before leaving school. That has been suggested to us
before. Then with regard to accidents and falls of roof
and sides, you think a systematic method of timbering
should be rigidly enforced, and the system to be agreed
upon after a consultation with the parties afiFected. Do
you wish to give any views that you hold, or your Mends
on behalf of whom you speak, with regard to timbering ?
— If I may be allowed to supplem3nt what I mean by
saying that a systematic m3thod of timbaring should be
adopted, I should like to do so. Not only is it necessary
in the coal face where work is being carried on, but the
roadwayis should be more effectively timbered than they
are at the present time, because a large number of these
accidents take place on the roadways and not at the coal

30452. More than half of the accidents take place at
the coal face ? — ^That is so.

30453. No doubt somo take place in other parts. You
say that no official should have the right to say that the
timber which had been agreed upon might not be put
up unless he gives consent to the same. Where you have
a system of rules of timbering, or where you have in mines
some rules of timbering, is it in the power of an official

38 A

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Mr. to prevent those rules being put into effect ?— This would

D.W.Morgan apply to timber that would be required to supplement

2Q N~triO(y7 number which is already laid down by the regulation.

— '- 30454. Your complaint is that very often a mining

official will say " Here are the regulations : I give you

enough timber to carry out those regulations, and I will

not give you -any more ; I will not allow you to put up any

more " ? — It is very often the case that what we call the

face props and sprags are put up, and then when it comes

to protecting the roadwav whicn has to stand l^e longest

amount of time before there is aily protection there, at

some of the collieries the men are not allowed to put up

that timber on the roadway until they obtain the consent

of the official.

30455. You think the workmen ought to be considered
to be the best judges, and if they tlunk timber is necessary
they ought to be allowed to have the timber put up ? —
Yes, I think the workman ought to have full power to put
up any he thinks is necessary for the safety of his life and
limb, whether it is provided for by regulation or no.

30456-9. Then you sav that there ought to be 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 has been very often suggested to us. Then you say
that during the course of the working shift no one should
be allowed to travel unless absolutely necessary over these
various engine-planes, and you think that some arrange-
ment could be made to prevent the necessity of travelling.
You think there is more travelling than is necessary along
the engine-planes on the part of the men ? — Yes, I think
some provision could be made to prevent the amount of
travelling going on at the present time, especially by
young lads required to carry lights, and so forth, travelling
on these engine-planes, often when the journeys are travel-
ling at a very rapid rate.

30460. Then with regard to safety lamps, you say that

/they should be introduced into all mines where there is
\ the slightest danger of an explosion, and that the Govern*
I ment Inspectors should have full power to order their
I adoption. You recommend that instead of tlie present
cumbrous method by which you have to go to arbitration T

30461. Then you think it would be well that safety
lamps if possible should be standardised, and, so far as
possible, th(B same kind of lamp adopted throughout the
whole of the coal field, and also that the screw-locked
lamps should be entirely done away with. You have very
few screw-locked lamps ? — There are a good few, I am
sorry to say, in our district.

30462. Then you think as regards firing explosives
that it should be made compulsory for the holes to be
chai|g^ 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. That is the practice ? — That is
the practice at present. In some collieries they take
over the whole of the work in our district at the present

30463. That is the general rule, that the ordinary woik-
men down below, without any special knowledge of ex-
plosives, are allowed to charge the shot ? — At some
collieries that is so, but at other collieries it is not so.

30464. You say at some coUieries that is so ? — Yes ;
I think it would l>e about half and half.

30466. You think it might be made compulsory that
the explosives should be supplied by the Colhery Com-
pany. That has often been suggested. Certainly every
possible precaution should be taken to avoid the possi-
bility of an explosion. You say that you think every
possible precaution is not now adopted, and particularly
that imskilled men are allowed to charge the shots ? —
Unfortunately we have had many accidents from shot-
firing in our district.

30466. Owing to that ?— Yes.

30467. Owing to inexperienced persons being allowed
to charge a shot ? — Yes.

30468. You think with regard to rescue apparatuses,
that the latest appliances should be 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;
and then you say that there is not, according to your
knowledge, any fixed method of dealing with this great
and important phase of colliery life such as we see in fire
brigades, and the rescue of seamen. Surely now at a
gr«at many collieries they have drills with these new
apparatuses and scientific dresses. They have appliance
of this kind now T — ^Not in our district.

30469. Is there no such thing as pneumataphors in your
district ? — Quite a few, if there are anjr, but there is very
little knowledge in coimection with them.

30470. I hope before long that will be altered, and
that vou will find these rescue appliances are used, and
also that a great many men will be able to use them ?
— I am glad to find that the coal-owners in the
South Wales district are taking the matter up. They have
already appointed a Committee.

30471. You think a separate plan or diagram should
be hung up at some place adjacent to the coUiery, on the
surface, shewing the method of ventilation, and the roads,
also the doors, immediately under the pit bottom, up
to such point as the ventilation was being separated for
the various districts in the colliery. All mose maps and
plans are in the office, but you think that they might be
more widely available than at present ? — ^Yes, and
I find from experience there is a good deal of difficulty in
getting up those things at the moment when an explosion
may take place, when all the officials may be underground.

30472. Perhaps you suggest copies should be made of
all these plans and hung about in various places in the
mine ? — ^Not in the mine, not imderground.

30473. Well, on the surface ? — ^Yes, on the surface.

30474. (Sir Lindsay Wood.) What ai« the sizes of the
districts which you think should be made smaller for the
firemen ? — That would generally depend on the condition
of the working face. In some cases you might allot a
district of, say 30, 35 or 40 working places to t£e firemen.
If that working face was open and he was able to travel
from one end to the other, I do not think that would be
too large an area for one fireman to be in charge of.

30475. I understood you to say that you thought he
ought to devote all his time . — Yes, to the venti-
lation and the general safety of those men immediately
working in that district.

30476. Not to have any other work to do ? — None

30477. Not setting timber, or anything of that sort ? —

30478. Only to see that the men did set the timber ? —
Yes, properly fulfil his instructions in the setting of the

30479. A sort of overlooker ? — Yes.

30480. That is your idea ?— Yes.

30481. In the timbering of the roads you say that the
men are not allowed to put timber in the roads without
the sanction of the Manager ? — Yes, that is the case.

30482. Do you mean the main roads or the other roads ?
— It would apply to both headings and what we call
" sUlls."

30483. That is. the roads nearest to the face ? — Yes.

30484. Not the main roads T — No, they would have
generally nothing to do with the main roads in our district.
That would be done by another extinct class of men who
are called repairers.

30485. Only the short roads to the face and gateways.
Is the timbering done by the hewer in those cases ? —
Generally it is done by the hewers.

30486. How far back from the face does that come ? —
It would depsnd. In some cases it would be roughly from
40 to 60 yards.

(Mr, Wm, Abraham,) The system of timbering is dif-
ferent. We have not the system of timbering by deputies.

(Sir Lindsay Wood,) It seems to me pdculiar that the
men are prevented from setting up timber in these roads
except by the sanction of the firemen.

(Chairman,) Extra timbering, I think it is.

(Sir Lindsay Wood,) Yes, timbering they consider

(Witness,) There can be no doubt about it, because not
many months ago we were called upon to deal with a
dispute arising from a fall which took place, a man having
to wait half -an-hour before the official came round to put
up the timber, and meantime a heavy fall took place
because of the timber not being put up.

30487. Did not the man put up the timber himself ? —
No ; not until he gets permission to do so.

30488. Although it is for his own safety ? — That is so.

30489. (Chairman,) He dare not put it up ?— He had
to wait until the official came round and gave him per-
mission to do so.

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30490. Where he had the timbering and he might have
put it up ? — Tee, the timber was there.

30491. {Sir Lindsay Wood,) Is that the system in that
district ? — In that colliery it is very rigidly enforced.

30492. It is not general throughout the district ? — No,
but there is a tendency at all the collieries to enforce
something of the sam3 kmd. There is a greater stringency
being acted upon by the officials with regard to the roaa-
ways, and so forth.

30493. It would be the fault of the timberman if he did
not have that place properly timbered ? — I did not catch

30494. It would be the duty of some man to have the
place properly timbered ? — It would be the duty of the
man in the place.

30495. And you say he is prohibited from doing it ? —
Until th9 official gives him pdrmission to put it up. Then
the same man still puts the timber up, but he must wait
until he gets pdrmiseion from the official to do so.

{Mr. Wm. Ahraham.) Perhaps the witness would clear
it up. In these instances timbering in roads and extra
timbering have to be paid for.

{Sir Lindsay Wood.) They are paid for setting this extra
timber, but the management say '* Tour must not set this
extra timber for which I pay until you get sanction."

{Chairman.) If the mui chose to risk not being paid by
the management, it would not be a breach of the rules,
but he wants to be sure of getting paid for it.

{Wihiese.) It leads to a lot of unpleasantness — any
refusal of payment.

{Mr. Wm. Ahraham.) I want to clear this matter up.
We have had this matter in another district where there
has been the same question. An official struck out timber*
ing after the man put it up, and a case went to Ck>urt.

{Sir Lindsay Wood.) As to whether he should ha paid
for it or not ?

{Mr. Wm. Ahraham.) The question was a question of
payment, and to save the timber the official struck it out
and the place fell in.

30496. (iS'tr Lindsay Wood.) You say there is too much
travelling on the engine-road in your district. Do the
men all come out together ? — At the end of the shift,
yes ; but there is a great deal of travelling which I think
ean be avoided, especially by young lads who are not quite
competent to take care of themselves when the machinery
is working.

30497. Do they travel on the main roads during the
time the ropes are running ? — Yes.

30498. What do they do ?— They walk out to the
bottom of the pit for the purpose of light and other things,
which older men, men m^re competent to take care of
them^lves, could very well do.

30499. They come out to get their lamps lit ?— Yes ;
lamps are brought back to the pit bottom to be relighted
when they go out in the dark.

30600. Is there much traffic of that sort ?— There will
be a good deal in every colliery. Our men work together
a man and boy together, and boys are employed on the
<5oal, and of course the boy cannot be very well left in
the face by him<ielf to carry on the work, so he is sent
back by the collier for the purpose of fetching the light
to have the lamps re-lighted.

30501. In your district do they keep spare lamps in the
stations near the face ? — It would be at the pit bottom

30502. That may be two or three miles away from the
warking face — ^it may be a mile or two ? — Yes, a mile
would be, perhaps, nearer the muk.

30503. In some it is two, in some perhapa three. You
think that would be obviated if they had lighting stations
much nearer to the face ? — Yes, or got elder men to do
the work,

30604. Men travelling on the engine-roads would be
men coming out and going in ? — That is sa

30606. The ropes will not be running at that time ? —
Not in the morning or the evening, or the beginning and
end of the shift.

30606. It is only, as it were, the occasional travelling
which you are complaining of ? — During the shift

30507. You recommend that the screw-locked lamps
should be entirely done away with. Have you many
accidents from lamps being opened in your district ? —

20 Nov. 1907

I could not say exactly that there are many accidents, Mr,

but we find that lamps are opened ; and, indeed, during D. W.Morgan
the course of working the lamp is shaken very much back-
wards and forwards, and sometimes the screw lock be-
comes loose in that way.

30608. I only want to know whether you have had
many cases of men opening the lamps, or whether they are
more easily opened witli screw locks than any other ? —

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 99 of 177)