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are unable to take efficient means to render it harmless, and often the consequences are serious; the time has come in my opinion when the under officials in every mine should possess the requisite practical knowledge on the best means to be adopted to dispel and render harmless inflammable gas when met with, and every fireman should be taught how to safely handle a Davy lamp, how to test for gas, and how to deal with gas in an emergency. I have again to express the opinion given in my Report for 1904 that the first inspection under General Rule 4 should be made with a safety lamp in every mine irrespective as to whether gas has ever been found.
No. 2 in List.-This explosion occurred on 6th December, 1905, in a section of a longwall working of Parrot Coal Seam.
A fall of roof took place across several places liberating some gas which lodged at the top. Men were engaged "winning out" inside the fall at the extremities, and this work was almost completed when the accident took place.
The fireman of the section was aware there was gas at the top of the fall, and notwithstanding he appears to have gone up with a naked light and ignited it causing it to explode, whereby the flame travelled to where the men were at work burning them.
An examination of the section was made next day and gas was found in several of the roads. Owing to the fall the ventilating current was less than usual, but no effort was made by the officials with the air current available to clear out the gas. It transpired that the fireman had very little experience of gas, and probably knew nothing of the dangers or how best to deal with it.
No. 4 in List.-The most serious explosion occurred at Prestonlinks Colliery, Prestonpans, belonging to the Forth Collieries (1903) Ltd.
The place of accident was in Gillies' heading of Great Seam of Coal, Sea-dook section. The Great Seam is in two divisions, the bottom portion, which is 3 ft. 9 ins. thick, is worked stoop and room, with stoops 20 yards square, and openings 15 ft. wide, the top portion which is not presently worked is about 3 ft. thick and is separated by about 4 ft. strata.
The air current to ventilate the seam passes in from the Links shaft by means of a forcing fan 21 ft. by 7 ft., and goes by a parallel dook, part enters the west level and, after ventilating the faces there, passes to the opposite side or east level by air crossings, and after traversing the workings there returns by the haulage road to the Crown shaft. The quantity of air passing in to the west level measured about 2,000 cubic feet per minute. To ventilate the workings the air was conducted to the faces by means of brattice cloth. On the morning of the accident deceased and another oncost-man named John Colquhoun descended the Crown shaft about 5.45 a.m., and both carried naked lights to the station, which was the entrance to the west level; both naked lights were extinguished after deceased had trimmed and lighted his " Davy" lamp, and both men proceeded by the light of the "Davy" along the level road to a part where a fall had taken place and which Colquhoun was to redd. Deceased passed in to the workings inside, and in passing out to examine the rise places he spoke to Colquhoun, who saw that he carried only the one lamp, namely the "Davy," and shortly after an explosion was heard, and Colquhoun was thrown to the ground. On recovering himself, Colquhoun ran out to the dook road, and met other men coming towards the scene of the explosion. A search party was formed but owing to the presence of after-damp it was found impossible to get to the rise working, and before deceased's body was got the ventilation had to be partly restored.
The explosion was very violent, and the direction of force was from X towards Stewart's heading, and from Stewart's heading to the dip; the force was greatest at the latter, props being thrown out and hurled against the stoop's side, the dirt stoppings at the level were thrown on to the level road, and the air crossings were damaged.
There were many indications of flame on the props, and on several pieces of paper near the place where deceased's body was found.
The deceased's body was found at X with his head to the dip and lying on his face, and close to his left hand was his "Davy" lamp very much damaged; diligent search was made near X for the remains of a match or an open lamp, but neither was found; it was stated that the small open lamp which belonged to deceased was found at a tool chest at the station, where it was left by him when he proceeded inbye to make his inspection.
The work had only started after the holiday, and during the suspension the roof had broken, causing several falls to take place, and liberating gas from the portion of coal above, as was ascertained by a bore being put up to this coal shortly before the date of accident, when gas issued from the bore hole. The falls deranged the brattice cloth, and
some gas accumulated, and deceased in company with Colquhoun cleared out this gas the night prior to the accident. Hitherto the workings had been free of gas, but the close proximity of the "whin gaw seems to have altered the conditions causing the strata to become gaseous.
The cause of the explosion appears to have been due to the safety lamp; deceased had gone right into a body of gas before he was aware, and an explosion took place in the lamp, causing the gauze to be forced up, and the flame communicated with the explosive
The construction of the safety "Davy " lamp in use was defective, as the bottom of the gauze was not fixed to the ring by rivets, but simply turned over on the ring, the result being that an explosion occurring inside the lamp the gauze would be forced out; an experiment showed that with a very moderate pressure the gauze was displaced from the ring.
The plan shows the position of the workings, in section where explosion took place, and drawings show the lamp as it was found, one drawing showing the lamp as carried by
No. 36 in List.-This explosion occurred in a cross-cut mine being driven over an upthrow fault of 7 fathoms.
The mine had a rising gradient of 1 in 4, and was up a distance of 140 ft.
The air current to ventilate the mine was that which traversed the workings, and it was led up to the face by brattice cloth, the intake being on the hutch way and the return on the "cuddie" way, the system of haulage being "cuddie " brae.
At the foot of the mine was a pump driven by a haulage rope and wheel, and the night prior to the accident the pump got out of order, necessitating repairs. To enable the repairs to be done part of the bratticing had to be removed, the result being that the air short circuited and gas collected in the mine.
On the morning of the accident the fireman found gas, and to prevent anyone approaching he put up a fence across the entrance and wrote in chalk Gas found in mine," and at the station he warned the men who worked in the ordinary places near by. Deceased and two workmen went to the mine some time after to restore the ventilation by fixing up the bratticing, and of necessity took down the fence, and while he apparently was busy the one man sent the other—a Pole-to look for some tools, and he wandered up the mine and ignited the gas with his naked light, causing an explosion.
The explosion was very violent, as, in addition to destroying the bratticing and knocking out props, several men in the vicinity were thrown down, deceased, who appeared to have been in the direct line of the force, being thrown against a stcop side and killed instantaneously.
In removing the fence to restore the ventilation, the overman, as the person in charge of the operative details in the mine, did a quite legitimate thing, and could not be aware that the Pole had gone up the mine: the statement of the Pole being that deceased did not see him go, and apparently did not hear the other workman send him for the tools.
ACCIDENTS from FALLS of ROOF and SIDE, classified according to the PLACE where
The accidents by falls of roof and sides numbered 156, of which 36 were fatal; the deaths were 37 and number of persons injured 127. The fatal accidents have decreased by 2 and the deaths by 1, while the non-fatal accidents and persons injured by same have decreased by 18 and 15 respectively, as compared with last year.
The deaths by fatal accidents at the face, where the propping and spragging rules apply, were 21, being at the rate of 57 per cent., as compared with 69 per cent. last year; this is a slight improvement, for which one is thankful, but still too high.
In visiting the mines it struck me that many of the officials did not clearly understand the propping rules, and, with your permission, I arranged meetings for the Saturday afternoons at the beginning of the year at various centres in the district to elucidate and explain the rules, to which the managers and their officials were invited; eight meetings were held and were attended by 1,700 persons. At each meeting I gave a lecture with black-board illustrations, showing how the propping should be done under varying conditions of roof and inclination, and afterward invited discussion and questions, which were very largely taken advantage of, and much information was derived and good resulted. For a time thereafter there was a large diminution of falls, but I regret to say the improvement was not maintained. The counties contributing most to the fatal falls are Fife and