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Linlithgow, both being much in excess of their proportions, whether taken by persons employed or output, the former specially so; and while making every allowance for the nature of the roofs and inclination of the seams, the proportion is much greater than it ought to be. At a recent inquiry held at Dunfermline, under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry Act, into several fatal accidents I took occasion to remark, for the benefit of the owners and managers, that, as far as roof falls were concerned, "Fife had the most unfortunate reputation of any county in my district," and several adverse comments were made about the statement. In the light of the knowledge I possessed, the statement was justified, as out of 25 deaths by roof falls 16 occurred in Fife, being at the rate of 64 per cent., while the percentage of persons employed and output is 35 and 31 respectively.
Reverting further to the question of propping and spragging, it is the fact that the primary object of the miner is to get mineral, as by output he is paid, and consequently output is of primary importance, and it must always appeal to him first; hence, in a sense, the security of the roof and sides becomes a secondary matter, and to obtain the former risks are run rather than lose the time in setting props and sprags; this would be avoided if the securing of the roof and sides were placed upon a responsible person apart from the miner, leaving him free to produce mineral, as suggested in my last year's Report.
The fatal accidents under this head numbered 8, an increase of 4 as compared with last year. One of the accidents was caused in rather a peculiar way. While the men were descending for the morning shift, a noise was heard in the shaft, and as steam pipes were in the dip side to work a pump, it was thought that the noise was occasioned by a blown joint, and winding was suspended until the steam was cut off at the surface; when this had been accomplished the dip cage was loaded with men and began to descend, and when about 72 fathoms down the cage met, and apparently passed, an obstruction, and something fell after the cage, and in passing came into the cage, striking a lad, causing injuries to his face from which he died. An examination of the shaft afterwards showed that the noise was caused by an expansion pipe bursting, and the force of the steam had displaced a wooden deal for bratticing off a compartment for ventilation, and the cage in passing had forced it away from its position, and a splinter off the deal caused the injuries.
An accident occurred to a man who fell down a shaft and had a most miraculous escape. The shaft had two levels, only one of which was in use, 80 yards above the lower level for ventilation purposes, the scaffolding or cage seat had open spaces to allow the air to pass. At stopping time there were a number of men waiting to be raised to the surface, and after the cage, which was double decked, had been emptied it was signalled away, and as the under deck came to the landing several men rushed to get on; but as it did not stop some fell into the cage seat, the injured man falling through one of the spaces to the bottom; he was found alive, and although his boots were off his feet, and part of his clothing off his body, he was not seriously injured, and he has since recovered.
Under the division of overwinding, five accidents are recorded causing injury to 15 persons; these accidents were not caused by the injured persons being overwound by ascending cages, but by being underwound by the descending cages, and striking the bottom too hard. This class of accident seems to be on the increase, and where there is speedy winding, some automatic arrangement to prevent the descending cage striking the shaft bottom with too much force, is a necessity.
MISCELLANEOUS UNDERGROUND ACCIDENTS.
There is an increase of 10 in the number of fatal accidents, and of 12 in the deaths as compared with last year.
Of the three fatal accidents due to explosives, two occurred in shale mines, one of which was caused by unramming a shot.
As usual, several non-fatal accidents were caused by the injured persons having their naked lights either on their caps or too near while handling explosives, and a number were due to the injured persons failing to take sufficient shelter after the fuse of shot had been ignited.
ACCIDENTS with EXPLOSIVES, classified according to the NATURE of the EXPLOSIVE.
ACCIDENTS With EXPLOSIVES, classified according to their CHARACTER or CAUSE.
There is an increase of four fatal accidents under this head as compared with a year ago.
Ropes and chains breaking were responsible for three deaths; eight deaths were caused by persons being run over or crushed by tubs, and two were due to other causes. The County of Fife contributed largely to this result, and is scarcely to be wondered at, owing to large number of incline planes, cut chain braes and dook rope haulage in usein the steep measures.
Of the above, one person was killed and three persons were injured while illegally riding,
BY UNDERGROUND FIRES.
One accident occurred through this cause whereby two lives were lost.
No. 26 in List.-In the No. 1 pit of Lumphinnans Colliery, Fife, a fire broke out in the Lochgelly Splint Coal seam, about twelve years ago, and at the time the section was built off by brick stoppings, and up to within a few days of the accident had given no trouble.
The No. 1 pit was downcast and the air passed on the dip side of the stoppings toward the No. 11 pit.
It appeared that three days before the accident a smell of coal stink-well known as a product off a coal fire-was felt, and at once men were sent to look over the stoppings and make repairs and put in new stoppings where such were necessary.
On the morning of the accident several men were engaged at the stoppings, when one burst out between D and A, and a volume of carbon monoxide was projected into the airway, fouling the air current to such an extent that it was with difficulty the men got back to the intake side of D; the foul air was carried by the current right to the upcast shaft, and deceased who were doing some repairs on the roadway in the workings of No. 11 pit were right in its way and their escape was an impossibility.
In reaching the upcast shaft the foul air had to pass the stables, and all the horses, eighteen in number, were overcome as well as the men in the vicinity of the shaft, more or less; as soon as possible the air current was cut off by means of stoppings in mines leading up to Lochgelly Splint Coal seam on No. 1 pit side and a fresh air current was obtained from the same pit in a lower seam, the Five Feet Coal, and taken into the section and carried the reverse way than the way originally, the result being that seven horses revived.
Rescue parties were formed to reach the unfortunate men, and as a precaution birds in cages were carried by the men in advance and as soon as the birds showed signs of collapse a halt was made until the foul air had been carried away in front and a further advance made possible; great difficulty was experienced in reaching the deceased, who were found after 18 hours' arduous work.
The Lochgelly Splint Coal seam is liable to fire by spontaneous combustion, and fires are not uncommon; the fire usually begins in the upper portion.
In the section where burst took place the system of working was longwall, and owing to the approach of other workings to the seat of the fire the strata became broken and air was drawn through the crevices, causing a renewal of the fire. As the coal was distilled gas was produced and, prior to the accident,[was ignited at one of the stoppings; it is very probable that an explosion of gas took place inside, throwing out the stopping.
In trying to reach the bodies the search parties were more or less affected by carbon monoxide as the side roads and openings in the strata were filled with the gas; at one place great difficulty was experienced in taking fresh air in at a junction of two roads owing to the broken strata, and a tunnel made of brattice cloth had to be formed.
The need for pneumatophors was very evident as, in addition to lessening the risk to life in the foul atmosphere in the work of rescue, the bodies of the victims could have been reached in a much shorter time.
IRRUPTIONS OF WATER.
At two mines irruptions of water took place, one by which five men were entombed for about four days, and the other by which two lives were lost.
The first occurred at Tullygarth Colliery, Clackmannanshire, owned by Messrs Jas. Fyfe & Co.
The shaft is 61 yards deep to the Splint Coal seam, and at 50 yards it cuts the Cherry Coal seam. The principal workings were at the lower level, in the Cherry Coal, and were reached by a crosscut mine from the Splint Coal, and in the upper level were two working places reached from the mid working.
Operations were begun at the colliery in 1900, and as soon as the Cherry Coal was reached, boring was commenced and carried on until the waste of the abandoned workings of Clackmannan Colliery was reached and the water was drawn off, as the workings progressed to the dip, bore holes were put through to the dip waste, and quantity of water was regulated by plugging the holes at intervals, according to the capacity of pumps to deal with it. At the time of the inrush bore holes were running water from the waste at A and B.
The work was proceeding as usual on the morning of the 3rd February, when water was seen making its way down the "dook" of the Cherry Coal, and as it increased in volume the alarm was raised, and the men rushed toward the shaft, but on reaching the