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MISCELLANEOUS UNDERGRound.

Accidents of a miscellaneous character totalled 164; being exactly 10 less than the previous year.

Of the above number 35 accidents proved fatal to 42 persons, being 20 less accidents and 14 less deaths than the preceding year.

I am pleased to report that not a single fatal accident due to the use of explosives occurred during the year.

TABLE (10).

ACCIDENTS with EXPLOSIVES, classified according to the NATURE of the EXPLOSIVE.

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ACCIDENTS with EXPLOSIVES, classified according to their CHARACTER or CAUSE.

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The following is a short account of the accidents by explosives

On 22nd February at Maindy Colliery a shotman fired a shot of ammonite before the fireman had reached a place of safety, and injured him seriously. He was said to have called to the shotman to fire the shot.

On 22nd March, at Tydraw Colliery, a collier in breaking up a lump of coal containing a miss-fire shot, struck the detonator and caused the charge to explode. He sustained a fracture of the frontal bone of the skull.

On 26th March, at Duffryn Dare Colliery, a lad was taking a pellet of compressed powder towards the face, when he fell down and his naked light ignited the powder. He was slightly burned.

On 10th April, at Clynmil Colliery, a collier was preparing a charge of compressed powder, when his naked light by some means got in contact with it and exploded it.

On 18th April, at Cwm Colliery, a ripper had charged a hole in the roof with. saxonite, and through a misunderstanding it was fired by the shotman before the ripper had retired to a place of safety. His head was injured.

On 26th April, at Merthyr Dare Colliery, a collier was taking a charge of compressed powder out of his cannister, when by some means it was ignited, most probably by his candle. He and his partner were burned.

On 19th June an assistant fireman was walking along a road in Mardy Colliery, when he trod on a detonator which exploded.

On 9th July, at Tydraw Colliery, a charge of westphalite in the coal missed fire, and in working away the coal the collier struck the detonator with his mandril and caused it to explode.

On 20th July, at Pentwyn Colliery, a shot of compressed powder in the coal exploded just as my assistant, Mr. Trump, was passing it. He was badly cut on the head and nose. Fortunately his sight was quite uninjured. The collier who had ignited the fuse, had gone down his stall on to the heading, and so left the approach on the right and left of the shot unguarded. The manager, who was in advance of Mr. Trump, had passed the shot and escaped injury.

On the 16th October a chargeman at Bwllfa Dare Colliery had ignited a charge of saxonite in the face of a hard heading, and retired to shelter in a manhole 18 yards away. When the shot went off a stone was thrown back and struck him on the head.

Not any accidents occurred during the year from suffocation by natural gases, or by underground fires.

IRRUPTIONS OF WATER.

I much regret having to record one serious irruption of water; accidents of this kind are fortunately of rare occurrence in this district.

The Caradog Vale Colliery inundation which occurred on the 26th June, caused the loss of four lives. This accident formed the subject of special reports by Sir David Brynmor Jones, K.C., M.P., and myself.*

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Of the above, two persons were killed, and seven injured while illegally riding. The total number of accidents connected with underground haulage was 115, compared with 126 the previous year. Of the above number 32 accidents proved fatal to 36 persons, being 16 less accidents and 13 less deaths than in 1905.

This is a very satisfactory improvement, and I hope it will continue, as the death rate under this head is still very high.

TABLE (13).

FATAL HAULAGE ACCIDENTS in 1906.

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ROPES OR CHAINS BREAKING.

Accident No. 86. This accident was caused by the big link of the chain attaching the haulage rope to a journey of trams breaking.

The road on which the accident occurred was the main road from the shaft. an outward dip varying from 34 in. per yard down to 1 in. per yard near the shaft.

It had

About 1.45 p.m. on 28th April, a journey of 24 trams of coal had been brought out, and had been held by the tail-rope, about 160 yards from the shaft, for about 15 minutes, as there was no room on the parting at the shaft bottom. The rider gave the signal to lower the journey, and directly it moved the link broke, and the journey ran down into a group of men at the shaft who were waiting to ascend, and killed five and injured six.

Fifteen of the trams were on a dip of 24 in. per yard, and the last nine were on a 3 in. dip. The total weight of the journey would be 51 tons. The link that broke was 5 in. long by 2 wide, and was made of 1 in. diameter B.B. Staffordshire cable iron, having a breaking strain of 32 tons. The strain on the link would be about three tons.

The fracture was across the weld, and showed crystallization due to jarring.

The chain was new when put to work on 17th April, so had done very little work. I think the journey was started with a jerk or the chain had been injured by undue strain, such as would be caused by a full journey becoming derailed while travelling at a rapid

pace.

The inquest was held before Mr. Coroner Rhys on the 1st May, aud below I give the newspaper account of the evidence given.

The inquest on the five victims of the disaster at Messrs. Guest, Keen, and Nettlefold's Dowlais Cardiff Colliery, on Saturday, was held on Tuesday at the Abercynon Police Court, before Mr. R. J. Rhys and Mr. E. B. Reece, coroners. Among those present were Mr. F. A. Gray, H.M.J., Mr. Trump, Mr. T. Richards, M.P. (secretary of the Miners' Federation), Mr. Ben Davies (agent to the No. 2 Rhondda District of Miners), Mr. W. Hopkins (agent to the Enginemen and Stokers' Association), Mr. A. T. James (Messrs. Walter Morgan, Bruce, and Nicholas, Pontypridd) represented the South Wales Miners' Federation; Mr. F. B. Charles, solicitor, Merthyr (instructed by Mr. Martin, agent of the colliery), appeared for the company.

Mary Jane Watts identified her husband, Ernest Watts, 91, Cardiff Road, who, she said, died at a quarter to 6 on Saturday evening. Mrs. Emily Harpur, Norton Bridge, said her husband, Alfred Alexander Harpur, aged 37, died at 3.30 on Saturday. Herbert Moon (31), single, Wood Street, Cilfynydd, was identified by his brother, Robert Moon, of Cardiff. The other two victims identified were Morgan Richards, airwayman, Royal Oak, Abercynon, and Henry Campbell Jones, airwayman, 38, Gertrude Street, Abercynon.

John Davies, rider at the South Pit for six or seven years, said on Saturday he was in charge of the journey of 24 trams. It was the last journey of the day, and came from the seven deep. Witness was off the journey in front of the trams when it broke loose. The driver started the engine and then witness saw the journey was going faster than usual. He shouted to the men below. The journey passed him quickly. Witness then ran back to see what had happened, and ascertained that a link at the end of the chain joining the journey to the rope had broken. It was the link next to the cap of the rope. When the journey ran wild most of the chain went with it. Witness picked up the broken link. The seven deep was about 700 yards from the bottom of the pit, and as the journey came out from there witness rode on the tail. At the place where the tram came to a standstill witness put on the safety block, and did not take it out till he saw there was a clear road. Witness and his butty Edward Lewis, together attached a chain to the tail rope.

Replying to Mr. Fred A. Gray, witness said they had only been running journeys of 21 trams about a fortnight. Previously the journeys were made up of 22 and 23 trams, and occasionally of 24. The trams had been standing at the place from which they broke about a quarter of an hour, and witness did not notice whether they started with a jerk.

In answer to Coroner Reece, witness said he saw the rope man examine the chain by tapping it with a hammer on Saturday morning.

Mr. Bruce Jones, manager of the pit, proved the plans of the roadway where the accident happened. The plan was exhibited on the wall of the court, and its leading features were explained by witness. The gradient at the point where the principal part of the journey stood was, witness stated, 3 inches in a yard. The weight of each tram was 12 cwts., and the load on each tram was 30 cwt. The link was made at the pit, and was put on new the Wednesday week before the accident. The ropesman occasionally brought up the chain and passed it through the fire to test it. Witness had had a good deal of trouble during the past two years on account of men rushing to the pit bottom long before the time for winding up. To counteract this he had stationed a man at the bottom of one heading so as to catch all the level men and the heading men. He had also stationed a man at the pit parting to intercept the men coming up the Big Deep. All were warned not to go into the main parting till the pit had ceased winding up. He had also put notices in the engine-room. Witness read one of these notices as follows:

"Workmen are hereby strictly warned not to leave their working places too soon after finishing their day's work. They shall be allowed just sufficient time to enable them to reach the pit bottom at 5 o'clock on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and 2 o'clock on Mondays and Saturdays. The penalty for infringement will be either one half-day deducted from their wages or instant dismissal."

Witness added that a number of men had been dismissed and others fined for disobeying the rule, but some of the men succeeded in dodging the men stationed to prevent them coming into the parting too early.

Replying to Mr. Gray, witness said that sometimes the journey consisted of 15 and sometimes 28 trams, according to the quantity of coal wanted. The safety block was in the shape of a wooden wedge.

Mr. Gray: What do you think made the link snap ?-1 can't say.

Replying to Mr. A. T. James, witness said one of the workmen put to warn colliers against going into the main parting did not arrive there till a quarter to 2, thinking he would be in plenty of time, but a number of men had slipped through before he arrived.

Mr. James endeavoured to get witness to admit that the notice given above referred only to day men and not to colliers paid on consideration, but witness persisted that it referred to all working on the day shift.

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Mr. James How can you deduct half a day's pay from a collier paid on consideration ?—I can easily arrive at the sum any man earns in a day.

By Mr. Charles: He always had more trouble with the men on pay day. sometimes as early as 1 o'clock.

They came in droves Septimus Jones, engine-driver, described bringing the journey out of the Seven Deep and stopping it at the place where it broke loose. It stopped there a quarter of an hour before he received a signal from the driver to send the journey down into the landing. When he received the signal he raised his brake only two or three inches, and immediately he released the brake the lever dropped, showing that the journey had broken loose. An unusual number of men passed the engine-house that day about 1.30 on their way to the bottom. Witness had no instruction to warn them, but there was a man in the roadway to do that.

By Mr. Gray: Since this chain had been put on, the journey had never consisted of more than 24 trams. The brake was in good order.

Robert Grainger, road examiner, said he examined the tail rope at 7.15 on Saturday morning. His method of examination was to tap the rope heavily with a hammer, the resultant sound informing him of its condition. The break in the link was a clean one, there being no flaw in the link. Witness had been engaged testing ropes and chains for about six years.

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By Mr. Gray He had never known a chain break on that dip before. A new chain was put on at this point on April 17th this year. They made links but not the chains at their own smith's shop at the pit. He did not know whether the chains or links were tested before they were put into use. Robert Wyndham, blacksmith, said the link which broke was forged under his supervision, and was tested. Witness took up the broken link from the table, and after examining it said there was no flaw, the break being clean. He had never seen a link go like that before. By Mr. Gray: The link was made of B B iron, which witness considered was about as good iron as could be got. The link was cracked as well as broken, and the iron in the crack was darker than that at the break. Some of the nature of the iron was taken away by welding. If the iron was overheated it became brittle. He considered the breakage in this case was due to a twist.

John Thomas, master haulier, said that he had had instructions to stand by the engine to stop anyone going into the main parting before the haulage ceased. On Saturday a number of men passed before he got to the spot where he usually stood. It had been his duty to do this off and on for four years. On Saturday last the men came out of the workings earlier than usual. Witness had reported men for going into the main road before haulage ceased, but not recently. The last time he reported a man was about two months ago.-By Mr. Charles: Some of the men reported had been fined, and others dismissed. On Saturday, when he stood in the Big Deep, some men pushed past him, and others used him rather roughly, whilst some slipped past by putting out their lamps and going behind some trams which stood there.

Wm. Thomas, under-manager, stated that he stood in another part of workings keeping the men back. He kept a number back, and none slipped by him.

Mr. Rhys: They are more frightened of you? (Laughter.)-Witness: Oh, I have a little trouble with them myself.

Witness had never seen a chain snap before as this one did, nor had he ever seen a chain twisted in such a way as would put great pressure upon it and cause it to break.

By Mr. Gray: We have had shackles break on that dip, but never any chains.

In reply to Mr. Charles, witness said he had often cautioned men against going into the roadway before haulage ceased. Some reported had been dismissed. Those dismissed were day-men mostly. Mr. James: What you objected to then was that you didn't get the full day's work out of them? -Yes.

Mr. Rhys (coroner) pointed out that all the men killed were day wage men. William Stephens, day repairer, also gave evidence as to stopping men from going into the main Loadway on Saturday, and as to having reported men for this breach of the rules.

John Vaughan, chief mechanic at the colliery, said the link that was broken was made of the best Staffordshire cable iron. The weight of the journey was about 51 tons. The strain on the rope when the journey started would not be more than three tons if the rope and chain were properly disposed. They were capable of bearing a very much greater strain than that. The chain might, however, have got twisted, thus throwing an extra strain on the link.

By Mr. Gray: He considered the fracture in the link showed the iron was perfectly sound. The facture was crystalline, while the crack lower down was not, but his opinion was that the appearance of a fracture did not show the nature of the iron, but rather the way it was broken.

Mr. James Don't you think it advisable that the link should be tested in the same way that the chain is?-Witness: No, I don't think it necessary. We rely on the care and skill of our workmen. It is a matter of opinion whether it is a good thing to test chains. Many makers will not do so.

Mr. F. A. Gray, Chief Mines Inspector, said he did not agree that the breaking was caused by a twist. The link appeared to him to have become crystallised by constant jarring, but the crystallisation could not be seen by an examination nor told by the sound after being struck by a hammer. The weld was very well done. Witness had nothing to say against the specification of the link nor against the quality of the iron used, while he considered the link would be capable of bearing a much greater strain than would be put upon it by this journey of trams if everything was in order.

Mr. Rhys, in summing up, said the evidence showed the link was suitable for what it had to do provided everything went on in proper order. What caused it to snap was merely guesswork. Then, men who were at the bottom of the pit when the accident happened had no right to be there. Keeping the men back until a journey had passed was one of the greatest difficulties colliery managements had to deal with. A great many accidents happened because people would take

this risk.

At 3.40 the jury returned the following :

"We find that these men lost their lives by an accident, caused by the snapping of the link in the chain connecting the trams to the rope. We are satisfied that every precaution had been taken in the material and workmanship of the same."

Mr. Coroner Reece: That is a verdict of "Accidental death."

Accident No. 85 was caused by the opening of the D link of a shackle. Accident No. 87 was due to the breaking of the short chain connecting the rope to the journey. I advised the use of a stronger chain, which was done at once.

I think it would be well to draw attention to the importance of examining shackles daily. Couplings or shackles, in my opinion, come under the category of chains and, therefore, to comply with General Rule 4, they should be examined daily.

Four deaths were due to riding on the " gun, " and six riders were killed. During the year 17 persons were taken before the magistrates for illegally riding on journeys, and in each case a conviction was obtained.

ON SURFACE.

The total number of accidents was 49, of which 14 proved fatal to 16 persons, being 13 more accidents and five more deaths than in the preceding year.

ACCIDENTS BY ELECTRICITY.

Accident No. 135. This accident occurred on the roof of a Guibal fan-house at Lower Duffryn Colliery, owned by the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Co., Ltd., through deceased getting in contact with bare cables carrying three-phase electricity at 3,000 to 3,300 volts. All the engines at the upcast shaft had been replaced by electric motors, and it was decided to remove all the steam boilers except two. Two boilers were ready to be sent away, and to do this it was necessary to raise steam to work the hauling engine. Soon after steam was up, a joint of the main steam pipe blew out with a loud report in the fan engine-house. The stop valve was at once closed, but the steam was so thick that the joint could not be located. Deceased went out muttering something about a joint. It was thought he had located the joint and had gone to fetch a new joint ring. In about 15 minutes the electric current failed, and the fan stopped. The starting switch was shut, and a messenger was sent to the sub-station to report. A fuse on the fan circuit was found to have blown. This was replaced, and the fan restarted after a stop of 10 minutes. Soon afterwards deceased was missed, and the fan engineman went up on to the fan chamber and found him lying in the gutter quite dead, with his clothing on fire. It was thought he had climbed up to the top of the fan casing to look through the hole in the wall to locate the blown out joint. He must have forgotten the bare wires, and got his cheek in contact while his left hand rested on an iron pipe, which formed an excellent earth.

The current was carried from the power station by three bare copper wires supported by poles to the fan chimney, to which they were fastened by insulators, and between that point and the motor they were covered by insulating material. The cables entered the engine-house 27 feet above the ground, and the likelihood of anyone getting up to them did not seem to have occurred to the engineer in charge. Since then the bare cables have been replaced by insulated cables for some distance from the chimney.

Deceased's nose and jaws were burned and shattered, the neck burned, and the dorsal vertebrae was shattered to fragments. Death must have been instantaneous.

upper

Accident No. 130. The screening plant at Cwmneol Colliery was formerly worked by a steam engine, which had, some time prior to the accident, been replaced by electricity. The wires carrying the three-phase electricity of 3,300 volts to the motor in a

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