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Table 14 enables one to see how many casualties occurred at ore mines and at slate mines respectively.
ACCIDENTS With EXPLOSIVES, classified according to the NATURE of the EXPLOSIVE.
ACCIDENTS With EXPLOSIVES, classified according to their CHARACTER or CAUSE.
DEATH-RATE from ACCIDENTS at the MINES in the DISTRICT from 1875 to 1905.
At the Van Lead Mine, Montgomeryshire, a miner had his hand slightly burnt by igniting gas which issued from a crevice. Fire-damp, probably mixed with sulphuretted hydrogen, is not unfrequently met with in this mine on "tapping" the lode, and there
have previously been instances of men having had their hair singed by slight explosions. Since this accident a fan has been set to work at the place. It should be remarked that the lodes at the Van Mine are in Silurian rocks, and that there are no Carboniferous rocks within many miles.
FALLS OF GROUND.
There were three fatal accidents, and twelve non-fatal ones from this cause. In the case of two fatal accidents (Register Nos. 25 and 77), which happened at the Ratgoed and Rhosydd slate mines, respectively, the falls occurred from places well within reach of the persons killed; while in the other case (Register No. 37), some pieces fell on to the deceased from old collapsed workings, on which he and others were at work at the Diphwys slate mine.
The non-fatal accidents call for no remarks.
The only shaft accident, a non-fatal one, was caused through a person "falling part way down." A piece of timber on the side of a shaft which was being sunk, was struck and loosened by a stone projected from a blast; a miner went there to replace it and fell to the bottom, a distance of 16 feet.
MISCELLANEOUS UNDERGROUND ACCIDENTS.
Of accidents with explosives there happened one fatal and seven non-fatal ones, each causing injuries to one person, against two fatal and nine non-fatal, causing injuries to eleven persons in 1905.
The fatal accident with explosives, (Register No. 11), occurred at the Oakeley slate mine while a slate-getter was stemming a hole charged with gelignite and gunpowder. The man, who used a phosphor bronze stemmer, had his head immediately over the shothole. The charge exploded and the stemmer penetrated the skull; he died the following day. Attention has repeatedly been called to the danger accompanying the firing of holes charged with mixed explosives, consisting partly of an explosive containing nitroglycerine and partly of gunpowder, as the hard stemming necessary for the latter is liable to explode the former or its detonator and cause serious accidents.
These mixed charges are generally used for cutting a "free side" on the rock when a shattering action is desired around the bottom of the shot-hole, and a rending action near the top, but some way out of the difficulty must be devised other than using mixed charges.
I give a short description of each of the non-fatal accidents in the order of their occurrence, together with the dates.
Register No. 16, (February 12).-A miner says that he had pushed one cartridge of gelignite home with a wooden stemmer, and that while he was preparing to insert a second cartridge, the first exploded. Hands and arms burnt.
Register No. 19, (February 19).-A charge of gunpowder exploded while a slategetter was ramming it with a phosphor bronze stemmer. The stemmer was projected with such force against the roof of the chamber that it was bent and broken. If the man's head had been directly over the stemmer he would undoubtedly have been killed. Men should be taught to ram charges of explosives without having their heads in the line of fire. Injury to face and arms.
Register No. 24, (March 5).-A miner, in contravention of one of the Special Rules, began drilling in the socket of a hole in which a charge of blasting gelatine had been fired. An explosion followed. Face and arms burnt. He was prosecuted by the owners.
Register No. 36, (March 30).—A charge of matagnite gelatine exploded while it was being rammed with a wooden stemmer. Skull fractured. It was said that the explosive was in a plastic condition at time of the accident.
Register No. 43, (April 21).—A stone projected from a blast struck a suspending chain by which a miner supported himself in a recess. The jerking of the chain loosened the peg to which the chain was fastened, and caused the man to fall. He sustained bruises.
Register No. 98, (November 15).—A miner, who had a piece of a cartridge of gelignite to spare after blasting, put it into his trousers pocket, instead of returning it to the
explosives chest. A spark from a match flew into his pocket and ignited the explosive. Thigh burnt.
Register No. 114, (December 18).—A cartridge of gelignite exploded while a miner was driving it home with a wooden stemmer. Loss of part of left hand and dislocation at the shoulder.
It will be observed that all the accidents with explosives containing nitro-glycerine happened during winter or early spring, when such explosives are liable to become hard and require thawing. There is strong reason to suspect that some of the accidents occurred through the explosive not being in a soft or pasty condition.
Run over or Crushed by Trams and Tubs.-A slate-getter at the Votty and Bowydd Slate Mine, while walking in front of an empty waggon in a tunnel, failed to observe a full waggon coming to meet him, and was crushed between the two. He received injuries which proved fatal. The man carried a candle, and there was plenty of room at the sides of the tunnel, but the accident happened where there was rather a sharp curve. The non-fatal accidents were of a slight nature.
All the accidents by machinery are due to hand cranes or winches. Four persons got their hands caught between the spur and pinion wheels, while struck by the handles in lowering slate blocks. These accidents happen generally when small blocks are being lowered owing to carelessness on the part of the persons using the cranes.
Accidents Nos. 38 and 66 on the Register are the only two calling for remarks. Both happened through the breaking of ladders, and the victims in both cases were officials at the mines. The former took place at the East Halkyn mine. The agent and overlooker went to examine a stope which had been at a standstill for a long time, the ladder broke under them, and they fell to the bottom of the stope, a distance of ten yards. The manager had his leg broken, while the overlooker escaped with nothing worse than scalp wounds and shock.
The latter happened at the Bryn Eglwys Mine. A ladder broke while the sub-agent was climbing it from one gallery to another. He sustained a compound fracture of the leg and narrowly escaped with his life. The ladder had only been in use three years, but the timber was Norwegian pine which it is not advisable to use for making ladders of, as it breaks easily when pressure is applied transversely.
Register No. 112.-While a block of slate, weighing about 30 cwt., was being dragged from a heap by means of a compressed air winch, at the Oakeley slate mine, the lashing chain broke, and the hook struck one of the men on the head. He died the same evening.
Of the non-fatal accidents none were due to want of fencing. Five persons had their hands or fingers cut with the slate-dressing machines. One boy was hurt by machinery, having climbed over a fence to get at it, and another lad was injured while playing with a belt. A man received serious injuries in trying to put up a belt before the machinery had been stopped for the purpose, in contravention of the Special Rules; and a person in the employ of an electrical firm, fixing up plant, lost his toes through going too near machinery in motion at the top of a building.
On Railways, Sidings, or Tramways.
Register No. 44.-While a young horse driver at the Oakeley slate mine was trying to hook a slate truck in motion to others that were stationary, his head was caught between them and he was killed.
Of the non-fatal accidents, one that happened at the Tyddyn Meirion manganese mine was of a serious nature. A train-waggon, which had not been hooked on to the
rope, was let over the brow of an inclined plane owing to the man in charge having inadvertently removed the stop-block. It caught the hooker-on at the bottom, and he
had both legs badly broken by it.
Two of the "miscellaneous "accidents on the surface of the mines were fatal. Register No. 35.-At a part of the Rhiwbach slate mine, which is worked opencast, an icicle fell from a height of about 20 yards on to the head of a quarryman, and inflicted injuries to which he succumbed the same evening. Two of the agents had asked the men to throw down the ice as it was becoming dangerous. They promised to do so, but they disobeyed and went to work immediately beneath it. The men were much to blame for disobeying orders, and on the other hand the officials should have seen that their instructions were promptly carried out.
Register No. 45.-A slate-getter in a part of the Oakeley slate mine which is worked opencast, somehow fell off a ledge where he was at work, and died the same day. He had a suspending rope at hand, but as no one saw the accident happen, it is not known whether he was using it at the time or not.
One of the non-fatal accidents classed under this heading was caused by explosives. A workman was set to destroy a quantity of spoilt gunpowder; some of it accidentally exploded and slightly burnt his face.
There were no prosecutions of owners, &c., instituted by me at your direction during the past year. As will be seen from Appendix II., page 51, there were four prosecutions of workmen by owners or agents. Two of the offences were flagrant breaches of the Special Rules relating to explosives and blasting, and two workmen were proceeded against for not complying with directions concerning safety and discipline which were given them by the agent of the mine. In all cases convictions were secured and penalties imposed.
Exemptions under the Slate Mines (Gunpowder) Act.-In obedience to Sub-section 4 of Section 2 of the Slate Mines (Gunpowder) Act, 1882, I have the honour to report that the following slate mines hold exemptions from Section 23 (2) (a), (b), and (d) of the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act, 1872, viz., Abercorris, Áberllefenny, Braichgoch, Bugail, Bwlch-y-Slater, Cambrian, Clogwyn, Corwen, Croesor, Croes-y-ddwy-afon, Diphwys Casson, Glyn Iago, Gorddinan, Llanfair, Llechwedd, Maen Offeren, Moelferna, Oakeley, Pantmawr, Park, Penmachno, Prince Llewelyn, Ratgoed, Rhiwarth, Rhiw bach, Rhiwgwreiddyn, Rhosydd, Votty and Bowydd, Wrysgan and Wynne.
Electricity.--During the year 1906 the now famous electrical plant of the North Wales Power and Traction Company, Limited, began operations. It is novel in this country to have such an important system driven entirely by water power, and transmitting power at extra high pressure over long distances by overhead wires. generating station is situated on the eastern side of Snowdon, and the water is conveyed to it from two lakes, Glaslyn and Llydaw, 1,100 feet above, through a line of pipes nearly 1 miles long. The current is transmitted at 10,000 volts to the mines and quarries, where it is transformed to 500 volts. It is supplied at rates varying from to 1 penny per unit according to the load factor. The scheme has been fully described in some of the Electrical publications. The only mine that has taken up the power so far is the Oakeley slate mine at Festiniog, seven miles distant from the power house. This mine at present takes 1,900 H. P., and the power is utilised for pumping, haulage, supplying compressed air to the rock drills, and driving the slate mills, thus altogether superseding steam power. It is to be hoped that the satisfaction given by the electric power at the Oakeley mine will induce other mine owners to adopt it.