« AnteriorContinuar »
of the mines. The owners, operators, and State agencies are requested to report back to the Director of the Bureau of Mines the action taken with respect to the findings and recommendations. The Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the Bureau of Mines, is in turn required to report to the Congress each 3 months, commencing September 1, 1947, with respect to the conditions of all mines investigated and snspected during the period; all recommendations and notices to State agencies; and action taken by the mine owners, operators, and State agencies with respect to his findings and recommendations. The record of inspections, findings, recommendations, notices, and reports are to be made avaible for public inspection as soon as practicable.
Under the act of May 7, 1941 (55 Stat. 177), punishment is provided for refusal to admit into the mines the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the United States Bureau of Mines or any duly authorized representative of the Bureau, for purposes of inspection and investigation. The resolution contains no additional enforcement or penalties but leaves such matters entirely within the province of the States. The act limits itself to remain in effect for 1 year from the date it is approved.
Thus, Congress places squarely upon the States the burden of making the mines safe and keeping them safe for the protection of men underground until Congress has had an opportunity to study the problem thoroughly, and makes it clear that if the States do not guard the safety of the miners, the Congress will act further.
The original resolution was submitted and recommended by the Department of the Interior and a copy of the letter of transmittal is hereinbelow set forth in full and made a part of this report .
THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, June 17, 1947. Hon. ARTHUR H. VANDENBERG,
President pro tempore of the Senate. MY DEAR SENATOR VANDENBERG : Enclosed is a draft of a proposed joint resolution designed as an interim measure to provide a code of safety standards in the Nation's coal mines pending the consideration of permanent legislation on this subject.
I respectfully request that the proposed joint resolution be referred to the apropriate committee, and I recommend its early enactment.
The proposed legislation would continue in effect for a period of 1 year the Federal mine safety code for bituminous-coal and lignite mines of the United States. This code establishes minimum health and safety standards in the operation of the mines. It was adopted by an agreement between the Secretary of the Interior, acting as Coal Mines Administrator, and the United Mine Workers of America, and will expire on June 30 of this year, when Federal possession of the coal mines terminates. The code has been widely distributed among the mine owners, operators, and miners, and its provisions have won general acceptance as a sound and workable body of safety rules. The bill, in addition to continuing the effectiveness of the code, also provides the machinery necessary for its proper enforcement. When the coal mines are returned to private operation, on June 30, there will be no way by which the Federal Government can require conformity to any safety code in the coal mines, unless legislation along the lines of the proposed joint resolution is enacted.
Recent events have strongly underlined the importance of strengthening the legislative machinery available for the protection of life and limb in the coal mines. The recent mine tragedy at Centralia, Ill., shocked the Nation into an awareness of the seriousness of the hazards which the coal miner faces and of the importance of national action in establishing and enforcing standards of safety. The report of the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Public Lands, appointed to investigate the Centralia disaster pursuant to Senate Resolution 98, which was released a few days ago, emphasizes the importance of immediate congressional action in the solution of this problem. That report declares :
"It may be safely predicted that unless congressional action is taken immediately to improve the standards of safety in the coal mines, there will be new disasters as bad as that which took place at Centralia.
"The first and most essential step is the enactment by ('ongress of legislation that will not only raise the standard of safety but give the Federal Government the power it now lacks to enforce that standard."
Since it is probably impossible to enact, within the remaining weeks of this session, permanent legislation in this field, I strongly urge the enactment of temporary legislation giving the force of law to the coal-mine safety standards, which rest now only upon the drooping reed of an expiring contract between the Federal Government and the United Mine Workers of America. Such temporary legislation should, at the very least, protect the lives of miners after June 30, while any further investigations which the Congress may consider essential are being carried into effect. The enclosed proposed joint resolution is designed to provide for such an interim solution.
If legislation continuing the effectiveness of the present mine safety code is not enacted in the very near future, I fear that the lack of an enforceable body of Federal safety rules in the coal mines will soon give reality to the Senate subcommittee's prediction of "new disasters as bad as that which took place at Centralia."
Because of the urgency of preventing any hiatus in safety controls upon the termination of the contract between the Federal Government and the United Mine Workers of America, this proposed legislation has not been submitted to the Bureau of the Budget for consideration. Accordingly, no commitment with respect to the program of the President can be made. Sincerely yours,
J. A. KRUG,
Secretary of the Interior. [Enclosure.) Mr. KELLEY. Mr. Davis ?
Mr. FERGUSON. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Charles Ferguson. I am appearing for Mr. Charles F. Davis, safety director of the United Mine Workers, who is seriously ill in a hospital in West Virginia.
Mr. KELLEY. Will you proceed, sir, and identify yourself?
Mr. FERGUSON. I am assistant to Mr. Davis. With the committee's permission, I desire to read into the record a statement made by Mr. Davis before the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee on Senate bill 1031.
TESTIMONY OF C. F. DAVIS, SAFETY DIRECTOR, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, AS PRESENTED BY CHARLES FERGUSON, ASSISTANT SAFETY DIRECTOR
Mr. FERGUSON (for Mr. Davis). My name is C. F. Davis. I am safety director for the United Mine Workers of America, and I am appearing in behalf of Senate bill 1031 which seeks to give power to the Federal Bureau of Mines to have coal miners withdrawn from mines or sections of mines where imminent and immediate dangers exist.
For many years the United Mine Workers of America have been seeking legislation of this type and the Congress of the United States has constantly refused to grant such powers to the Bureau of Mines. The record of fatal and nonfatal accidents within the industry is a terrible one. (Appendix A attached to this statement sets forth the record from 1930 to 1947, inclusive.)
Refusal of Congress to pass such legislation has been largely based on statements of coal operators and various State departments of mines that laws now in existence were adequate to protect the life and limb of coal miners to the greatest degree possible; however, students of this subject are convinced that from 85 to 90 percent of all accidents could be prevented if knowledge which we now posses was put into practice.
In fatal injuries, three causes are responsible for approximately 80 percent of such accidents. First, mine explosions; second, rib and roof
falls; and third, transportation accidents. The mining industry possesses the knowledge to prevent all mine explosions. The only thing which is wanting is the failure to use this knowledge. All mine explosions are the direct responsibility of management. Regardless of what causes an ignition of methane gas or fine coal dust in a mine, responsibility for methane being present or fine coal dust in the atmosphere rests solely with management. Of this there can be no question. Lack of proper and adequate supervision and the failure to take prompt corrective measures is the cause of explosions. Rib and roof falls in a large measure can be prevented and this is likewise true of transportation accidents, by the same measures which are adequate supervision of the working faces and haulage entries.
Operators' representatives may appear before this committee and state that many accidents are caused by carelessness; however, allow me to point out that the management of a mine is responsible for the employment of miners and is also responsible for their education along proper safety lines. No officer of the United Mine Workers of America has the power or authority to go into a coal mine and properly instruct mine workers in safety measures. This is solely the duty of management, and when workmen are careless or inefficient and accidents occur from these causes, it is because they have been improperly instructed and inadequately supervised. Operators may contend that they should be allowed to handle this is their own manner. They have contended that this was true throughout the years and the record of killed and injured is still with us.
The Eightieth Congress passed a joint resolution which stated that whenever the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the Bureau of Mines or his duly authorized representative, shall, upon investigation or inspection of any coal mine, pursuant to the Act of May 7, 1941 (55 Stat. 177), find that the safety standards, set forth in the Federal Mine Safety Code for Bituminous Coal and Lignite Mines of the United States, adopted pursuant to an agreement dated May 29, 1946, between the Secretary of the Interior, acting as Coal Mines Administrator, and the United Mine Workers of America, as published in 11 Federal Register 9017 (title 32, CFR, pt. 304, sec. 304.1–304.15), with respect to ventilation, rock-dusting, storage and use of explosives, roof and rib support, the use of water or water with a wetting agent or other means of dust control where mining operations raise an excessive amount of dust, and prevention of fires in the underground workings of the mines, are not being observed, he shall forthwith notify the owner and the operator of such mine and the State agency charged with the enforcement of safety measures in such mine of his findings and recommendations thereon, and request such owner, operator, and State agency severally to report to the Director of the Bureau of Mines, the action taken with respect to said recommendations.
The record of cooperation was not good. During the year which this law covered, the Federal Bureau of Mines found 529 dangerous mines in States producing bituminous, lignite, and anthracite coal, a listing of which you will find in attached appendix B.
I would like to quote from the report of the Federal Bureau of Mines to the Eightieth Congress as follows:
In general, the larger mines of the Nation-those employing 500 men or overcomplied more readily than the small mines in eliminating hazardous conditions relating to approximately 40 important sections of the Federal Mine Safety Code. Of 108 mines included in this category, compliance with recommendations of Federal inspectors average 47 percent. On the other hand, a total of 405 mines, employing less than 25 men, complied with only 25 percent of the recommendations. Comparative figures of other mines based on employment showed an average compliance of 31 percent for 710 mines with 25 to 99 men ; 38 percent compliance for 551 mines with 100 to 299 men; and 39 percent compliance for 160 mines with 300 to 499 men.
Further in this report, the Federal Bureau of Mines sets out that cooperation between some States and the Bureau was impossible. I quote as follows:
Although Public Law 328 specifically requests the cooperation of State mining agencies in furnishing to the Bureau of Mines reports of action regarding the correction of hazards, at the close of the year on June 30, 1948, none of these reports has been received from seven States, namely: Alabama, 81 mines inspected ; Arkansas, 19 mines ; Georgia, 2 mines ; Iowa, 20 mines; North Dakota, 3 mines; Pennsylvania, 465 mines; and Wyoming, 41 mines. Only 2 forms were received from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry even though 77 mines in that State were inspected, and the Industrial Commission of Utah submitted only 3 forms with 42 mines inspected.
This report is a comprehensive document. It amply demonstrates that many mines are not being worked in a safe manner, and I believe proves conclusively that legislation of the type now before this committee is absolutely essential.
Respectfully submitted by C. F. Davis, safety director of the United Mine Workers of America.
Mr. PERKINS. Will you read those figures in the appendix ?
Mr. KELLEY. If you wish to put the appendix in the record, it will save you from reading it.
Mr. FERGUSON. That was my intention, Congressman, inasmuch as they are all figures. I want to say that these figures are compiled statistics as compiled by the Federal Bureau of Mines and various State mining agencies, and furnished to the Federal Bureau.
(The appendixes referred to are as follows:)
Employment and accident data for bituminous coal mines, 1930–47, inclusive
1930. 1931 1932 1933 1934. 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1 1946 1 1947 1
72, 836 55, 055 40, 310 44, 779 47, 940 48, 497 51, 612 54, 045 37, 674 39, 411 45, 198 47, 709 54, 438 52, 292 52, 377 48, 686 44, 800 44, 690
390, 500 7,816, 793
1 Preliminary and subject to revision.