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APPENDIX I.-List of fatal accidents
Mr. Henry Hall's Report.
March 26th, 1907. Sir,
I have the honour to submit my Annual Report on Mining and Quarrying in the Liverpool and North Wales District for the year 1906. The district comprises West Lancashire, Cheshire, Denbigh, Flint, Montgomery, Merioneth, Carnarvon, and Anglesey, and includes all the works, some 800 in number, to which the Coal Mines Acts, the Metalliferous Mines Act, and the Quarries Act apply in those counties. The only mineral works which are not comprised under one or other of these Acts are quarries less than 20 feet deep.
The minerals produced are coal, slate, limestone, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, gold, silver, copper, and small quantities of several other minerals, such as barytes, ochre, cobalt, &c. Manganese iron ore is being worked in Carnarvonshire, near Pwllheli, and there is at least one successful gold mine in Merioneth in which rich ore is found from time to time.
The value at the mines and quarries of the whole of the minerals raised during the year 1906 would be something like eight million pounds ; coal representing six and a quarter millions, slate £1,037,384, limestone £83,764, lead £102,197, and the various less important minerals bringing the total to eight millions or thereabouts. The industry has given employment to 81,634 persons, viz., the works under the Coal Mines Acts employing 60,833, the metalliferous mines 6,448 and the quarries 14,353 persons. In the early months of the year employment was not very regular but trade improved later, and at the time of writing the demand for coal is unusually great and prices are high ; there has also been some improvement in the slate trade of North Wales. There were 16,746,702 tons of coal raised in 1906 as compared with 15,638,596 tons in 1905, and as compared with 16,110,216 tons in 1904 and 16,782,934 in 1903, so that from year to year in this district the output of coal varies within very narrow limits, indeed for the past ten years the figures are almost identical—see Table 8, page 12.
The loss of life by accidents to those employed in mining and quarrying during the year amounted to 99, or five fewer than in the previous year. In the coal mines there were 82 deaths as compared with 80 in the previous year, whilst at quarries the fatalities this year only numbered eight as compared with 18 in 1905, and at the mines under the Metalliferous Act, which includes underground slate mining, there were nine deaths as against six in 1905.
Since the Compensation Act came into operation quite trivial injuries to miners are subjected to the closest scrutiny, although they may have been received months before death, and an inquest is frequently demanded in cases which in past years would have escaped notice altogether ; for this reason the present day statistics of fatalities in mines are to some extent unfavourably handicapped. The law attributes death to accident, however unhealthy or from whatever number of natural diseases a man may be suffering, if it can be shown that some blow or slight injury received whilst at work has hastened death by one day or even one minute.
Wages have continued at the same rate throughout the year, but a five per cent. increase took effect on the first day of January, 1907. In the last three months of the year the men's earnings would be satisfactory although, for some reason, the improved demand for coal did not appear to reach Lancashire as early as it did some other counties.
The inspection of the numerous mines and quarries in the district, some 800 in number, has been carried out by myself and three assistants ; two of the latter reside at Chester and one at Bangor. The following table shows the number of inspections made by each individual inspector, and the whole of the metal mines and quarries, with the exception of half-a-dozen, have been thoroughly inspected at least once during the year. The collieries have all been inspected underground either by Mr. Matthews or myself except in 20 cases, mostly small, unimportant mines. An endeavour has been made to carry out your wish that each mine should be inspected underground at least once every year. This could easily be done were it not that accidents are so frequent, requiring the inspector's presence at particular mines to inspect and inquire into the circumstances. These inspections are necessary not only in the fatal cases, but also where an accident has caused a serious injury, because should this injury prove fatal an inquest has to be held, and it is very unsatisfactory if the inspector did not at the time inspect and make himself acquainted with all the circumstances.
Care has been taken to inspect the more dangerous mines from time to time, and, where an inspection has revealed any special danger, subsequent visits have been made to ensure its removal. All inquests have been attended except in cases where the injury has been very trivial, but followed by blood poisoning, to which miners appear to be specially liable. Every case of complaint, whether anonymous or otherwise, has had careful attention, and, to put the matter shortly, we have done our best to make our work effective by practical outdoor inspection.
This Report includes the whole of the works classed under each of the Acts of Parliament which have been named, but for convenience each industry is treated separately, so that the report has three divisions, viz. :-Coal Mines, Metal Mines, and Quarries, and there is a further subdivision into sections in accordance with the official scheme :
Section 1.- Persons Employed.
II.—Output of Minerals.
V. General Remarks.
REPORT UNDER THE COAL MINES ACTS.
The following table shows the number of persons under various ages employed in and about the coal mines of this district during the year 1906 :
From this table it appears that there were 60,833 persons employed in and about the coal mines in this inspection district in 1906 as compared with 61,559 in 1905, a decrease of 726. There were 2,026 boys under 16 years of age employed under ground, and 1,103 on the surface, or a total of 3,129 boys, showing an increase of 111 as compared with 1905, but a slight decrease as compared with 1904. These hoys usually descend a few moments before six a.m. and return to the surface again about four o'clock. The miners descend between half-past five and six o'clock and return between three and four, but in the immediate neighbourhood of Wigan they remain under ground till nearly five o'clock. At some mines the men are allowed to come up at three o'clock, but the majority do not avail themselves of this permission. There were 1,644 women and girls employed on the surface, all in Lancashire except one, who was employed in Flintshire ; the latter was probably engaged to attend to the colliery office, &c. In Lancashire the females are chiefly employed in separating refuse from the coal, others push the trams from the cage to the screens, whilst others again are occupied cleaning the miners' safety lamps. In comparison with the previous year there were 287 fewer women and girls employed.
Wages were at à comparatively high rate, but idle days for want of trade would materially reduce the week's earnings. This was especially the case at mines producing house coal. Towards the end of the year there was a change for the better, and there was full employment for every one. The occupation of the coal miner is, generally speaking, a healthy one.
There are no doubt times and places when the atmosphere he has to labour in might be cooler and purer, but with the now almost universal adoption of mechanical ventilation, there are very few mines in which he would suffer actual discomfort or risk of injury to his health. As compared with occupations above ground, where the worker is exposed to all kinds of weather, the miner's life has its compensations.
The number of persons employed in the United Kingdom under the Coal Mines Regulation Acts was 882,345, an increase of 23,972 as compared with the previous year.