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by the Secretary of the Interior under authority of Executive Order No. 9728 (dated May 21, 1946, 11 F. R. 5593).
The agreement of May 29, 1946, between the Secretary of the Interior, acting as Coal Mines Administrator, and the United Mine Workers of America covered for the period of Government possession the terms and conditions of employment with respect to all mines in Government possession which were as of March 31, 1946, subject to the national bituminous wage agreement dated April 11, 1945.
Section 2 of this agreement provided as follows:
"MINE SAFETY PROGRAM
"(A) FEDERAL MINE SAFETY CODE “As soon as practicable and not later than 30 days from the date of the making of the agreement, the Director of the Bureau of Mines, after consultation with representatives of the United Mine Workers and such other persons as he deems appropriate, will issue a reasonable code of standards and rules pertaining to safety conditions and practices in the mines. The Coal Mines Administrator will put this code into effect at the mines. Inspectors of the Federal Bureau of Mines shall make periodic investigations of the mines and report to the Coal Mines Administrator any violations of the Federal Mine Safety Code. In cases of violation, the Coal Mines Administrator will take appropriate action which may include discipling or replacing the operating manager so that with all reasonable dispatch said violation will be corrected.”
Accordingly, the Coal Mines Administrator designated the following men to act as a committee in formulating a Federal Mine Safety Code : Dr. R. R. Sayers, formerly Director, United States Bureau of Mines as chairman; A. D. Lewis and Harrison Combs, representing the United Mine Workers of America ; G. H. Sambrook and A. J. Bartlett, representing the coal operators; and John E. Jones representing the Coal Mines Administrator. The Director of the Bureau of Vines was assisted in the work by the following bureau personnel : J. J. Forbes, now Chief of the Health and Safety Division; M. J. Ankeny, now Chief of the Coal Mine Inspection Branch; G. W. Grove, and G. W. Owings, supervisory field officials.
The members of the committee met on June 1, 1946, and began formulating a safety code. The final draft of the Federal Mine Safety Code was completed, and was put into effect on July 29, 1946 by the Coal Mines Administrator, and thereafter was used by the Bureau of Mines as a guide for determining unsafe conditions and practices during inspections of bituminous-coal and lignite mines.
Government possession of coal mines terminated on June 30, 1947, and thereafter the Coal Mines Administrator no longer had authority to administer the provisions in the Federal Mine Safety Code. However, the national bituminouscoal wage agreements of 1947 and 1948 between the bituminous-coal-mine operators and the United Mine Workers of America continued the principal provisions of the 1946 agreement, and the Federal Mine Safety Code was adopted and incorporated by reference in these contracts and stipulated that the operators shall comply promptly with recommendations of the Federal coal-mine inspectors (functioning under the provisions in Public Law 49, 77th Cong.) with the right of appeal to a joint industry safety committee.
SAFETY STANDARDS FOR ANTHRACITE MINES In many respects the conditions, practices, and hazards in anthracite mines differ from those in bituminous-coal mines. Therefore, it was necessary to prepare a separate set of safety standards for use of Federal coal-mine inspectors assigned to inspect anthracite mines under Public Law 49. The anthracite standards parallel insofar as possible the Federal Mine Safety Code for Bituminous-Coal and Lignite Mines.
The anthracite wage agreement of June 7, 1946 (and subsequent agreements), between the international union and districts 1, 7, and 9, United Mine Workers of America, and the anthracite operators provides in part as follows:
"6 (A) FEDERAL MINE SAFETY STANDARDS "Inspectors of the Federal Bureau of Mines shall make periodic investigations of the mines, and report to the mine management and the United Mine Workers of America any violations of the Federal safety standards. Operators and mine workers agree to accept such standards of safety adaptable and practical to the anthracite industry, subject, however, to the right of review by the Director of the United States Bureau of Mines, upon petition from the operator or the United Mine Workers of America."
EDUCATIONAL AND INVESTIGATIVE WORK The reduction or elimination of coal-mine accidents will be brought about not only by discovering hazards during coal-mine inspections and recommending what should be done but equally important how to do it. How to prevent, reduce, or eliminate hazards involves safety education and to this end the Health and Safety Division embarked on a training program for coal-mine officials and workmen. Accordingly, some of the personnel of the Coal Mine Inspection Branch of the Bureau of Mines perform special work, as provided in section 6 of Public Law 49. This section authorizes the Secretary of the Interior acting through the Bureau of Mines to expend the funds made available to him for the protection or advancement of health or safety in coal mines, and for the prevention or relief of accidents or occupational diseases therein, in such lawful manner as he may deem most effective in the light of the information obtained under this act to promote the accomplishment of the object for which such funds are granted.
Educational activities are at present confined to training mine supervisory officials and mine-safety committeemen and other employees in the fundamentals of mine safety.
Twenty-two instructors are now regularly engaged in teaching coal-mine supervisory officials with respect to safety as applied to falls of roof and coal, ventilation, the handling and storage of explosives, use of electricity, transportation, explosions and fires, miscellaneous hazards, and other items identified in the Federal Mine Safety Code for Bituminous-Coal and Lignite Mines and in the Safety Standards for Anthracite Mines. Such training is not ordinarily available to mine officials, and the need for it has long been apparent to the coal-mining industry and to the Bureau of Mines. The interest in the training is manifested by the attendance at the classes. Since this work was started in March 1948, more than 1,500 supervisory officials completed the course, and more than 2,300 were in training on March 1, 1949. The training is being conducted in the principal coal-producing regions of the Nation.
The training program for mine-safety committeemen was instituted to provide such personnel with sound knowledge of the Federal Mine Safety Code, the Safety Standards for Anthracite Mines, and the fundamentals of mine safety, so that they would be fortified better in cooperating with management in improving safety and health conditions and practices in coal mines. The mine-safety committees were established as part of the contract between the mine operators and the United Mine Workers of America under which the committees may inspect any mine development or coal-producing equipment and report their findings and recommendations to management for corrective action. This training is being conducted by Bureau instructors in the principal coal-producing areas of the Nation. The work was started in January 1947; and from that date to March 1, 1949, almost 8,000 mine-safety committeemen and other mine employees have completed the training and approximately 1,500 were in training on March 1, 1949. The training program is being expanded because of the increasing demand for it. Such training also is available to mine employees not covered by the national bituminous-coal wage agreement. In view of the need for training approximately 400,000 mine employees (other than mine supervisory officials) in accident prevention, it is hoped that the training work can be extended to include such employees.
ROOF-CONTROL WORK The Bureau of Mines, since its inception, has carried on special investigations for the benefit of the mining industry to promote safe and healthful working conditions. Such investigations usually involve field and laboratory studies and research. The outstanding hazard in coal mines that has resulted in the greatest number of deaths and injuries since the mining of coal began is from falls of roof and coal. Falls of roof and coal cause more than half the annual fatalities in coal mines and about one-fourth of the nonfatal injuries. The Federal coalmine inspectors give special attention to mine roof and the prevention of its unexpected collapse. In addition, a small group of Bureau engineers is studying the fundamentals of roof control and has developed what is know as the suspension roof-support method. Moreover, these engineers are encouraging the mining industry to experiment with those methods of support which differ from conventional methods.
The principle involved in this method of roof control is the prevention of initial sag and subsequent failure of thin bands of roof strata that lie above coal beds by reinforcing the strata with steel rods as soon as the roof is exposed.
Installations supervised by Bureau of Mines personnel have been made in numerous coal and ore mines, and results indicate the method to be quite successful. Inasmuch as this method largely eliminates the use of timber sets (collars and legs) and posts, it is of particular value in mechanized mines where dislodgement of standard supports is likely to result in a fall of roof and possible fatal injury to persons in the immediate vicinity. The widespread interest shown by the mining industry in this new method, together with its approval by State mining departments and successful application in many mines, is proof of its great possibilities in reducing accidents from falls of roof and coal. To date no roof-fall accidents have been reported in those areas of mines where the suspensionroof supports are used exclusively, and some companies have adopted the new method as standard practice throughout their mines.
Bureau of Mines engineers and inspectors are continuing to conduct experiments to further improve and simplify the method and to determine its applicability to various roof conditions. The results of such work will be publicized from time to time.
Additional investigative work conducted by personnel of the Coal Mine Inspection Branch includes:
(1) Special ventilation studies relating to the use of auxiliary blower fans with tubing, and the volume of air in the last open crosscuts of entries. Ventilating-pressure surveys are made at the request of coal-mine operators with a view to improving the efficacy and quality of ventilation.
(2) Cooperation with the Health Branch in conducting surveys of airborne dusts in coal mines.
(3) Experimental work in the use of permissible explosives and blasting devices at the request of mine operators to the end of eliminating the use of dangerous black-blasting powder in underground mines.
(4) Investigation of coal-mine disasters to determine causes and means of prevention. The personnel of the Coal Mine Inspection Branch assists in rescue and recovery work following disasters.
(5) Investigation of underground electrical hazards. Requests for investigations generally originate with mine operators who are interested in increasing the safety and efficiency of their electrical installations.
INSPECTIONS UNDER PUBLIC LAW 328 Public Law 328, Eightieth Congress, approved August 4, 1947, and effective for 1 year, provided that the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Mines, if upon inspection of any coal mine pursuant to the act of May 7, 1941, finds that the safety standards set forth in the Federal Mine Safety Code with respect to major hazards in underground bituminous-coal and lignite mines are not being observed, shall notify the owner or operator of such mines and the State agency charged with enforcement, of the Federal inspectors' findings and recommendations and request the mine owner and State agency report the action taken to correct the hazards. The law required the Secretary of te Interior to submit quarterly reports to the Congress. Public Law 328 recognized, by inference, the Federal Mine Safety Code as the basis for determining unsafe conditions and practices in the bituminous-coal and lignite mines of the Nation. Under this law, enforcement of safety measures was left to the State agencies, and the purpose of the law was to place upon the States the burden of making the mines safe and keeping them safe for the protection of men underground until Congress had an apportunity to study the problem thoroughly. The Congress made it clear that if the States do not guard the safety of the miners, the Congress would act further. This act expired August 1948.
During the year in which Public Law 328 was effective, 2,184 underground coal mines were inspected; there represented 72 percent of the Nation's coal production. Of these, 1,934 were reinspected to determine the extent of compliance with safety recommendations made during the first inspection. According to information gathered by the Federal coal-mine inspectors, a total of 27,313 hazards identified in Public Law 328 were observed during the first inspection; during the reinspections Federal coal-mine inspectors reported that 34 percent of the hazards were eliminated, 15 percent were corrected in part, and no corrective action was taken with respect to 51 percent of the violations.
By employment groups the average compliance in underground bituminouscoal and lignite mines during the year the law was in effect was reported by Federal coal-mine inspectors as follows:
1 These 40 items represent the more important sections of the Federal Mine Safety Code identified in Public Law 328. They apply particularly to the prevention of roof-fall injuries and to the prevention of mine explosions and mine fires.
Based on the number of men employed, the record indicates that the larger the mine the better the compliance with Federal recommendations to correct unsafe conditions and practices. In other words, the smaller mines were more hazardous than the larger mines, which in general is borne out by the accident records.
The investigation, covered by Public Law 328, discloses that some progress was made in reducing hazardous conditions and practices in the Nation's underground bituminous-coal and lignite mines, but it also indicates much room for improvement in reducing the principal causes of accidents in underground mining operations.
ACCIDENT STATISTICS The effectiveness of Federal inspection of coal mines under Public Law 49 is reflected in the mine accident experience since Federal inspections began. Accident data covering coal mines are included in appendix B. The first full year of Federal coal-mine inspection was 1942. Based on man-hours of exposure, some improvement is indicated in the fatal and nonfatal injury rates since that year. Comparative average accident rates on a million man-hours of exposure basis for the 9-year period immediately preceding Federal coal-mine inspections and the 7-year period of such inspection are as follows:
Combining the fatal with the nonfatal injuries the comparative average accident rates for the same periods as above are as follows:
The rates manifestly are still too high and indicate that too many mine workmen are killed or injured.
The number of men killed in major gas and dust explosions in coal mines during the 7-year period preceding the institution of Federal inspection was 593, whereas 611 were killed in similar disasters during the 7 complete years of Federal inspection. One of the reasons for this regrettable loss of life may be found in Federal inspection reports which indicate that in some instances little if anything is done to correct unsafe conditions and practices that may result in widespread disaster. Federal investigations of mine disasters that occurred since 1942 indicate that most of them could have been prevented if recommendations of the Federal coal-mine inspectors had been complied with. It should be mentioned that many coal-mining companies have instituted all possible safeguards to prevent these deplorable occurrences.
The disaster at Centralia, Ill., on March 25, 1947, resulted in the deaths of 111 men, and the one in the Smith mine at Washoe, Mont., on February 27, 1943, killed 74 men. Prior to the Smith mine disaster Federal inspectors had recommended the elimination of hazards that resulted in the explosion, namely, use of open lights in this gassy mine and failure to rock-dust the dry and dusty surfaces of the mine; and they had repeatedly warped the officials of the Centralia mine that the blasting practices wer unsafe and that the applications of rock dust were inadequate to prevent propagation of the coal-dust explosion that eventually occurred.
VIOLATIONS OF STATE MINING LAWS
A record was kept of the violations of State mining laws, indicated in reports covering Federal coal-mine inspections made during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1948. This record by States is included in this statement as appendix C, and indicates that a grand total of 23,386 violations of State mining laws relating to timbering, explosives and blasting, ventilation, coal dust and rock dust, transportation, electricity, mechanical equipment, fire prevention, surface, and miscellaneous were observed during the year. In West Virginia mines 6,472 violations were reported, 4,562 in Pennsylvania mines, and 2,825 in Kentucky mines.
The largest number of violations of State mining laws related to ventilation, 5,218 separate items being reported. These violations are important, because defective ventilation results in a large number of mine explosions. The second largest number of violations, 4,336, involved timbering. Inasmuch as more than half of the coal-mine fatalities and more than one-fourth of the nonfatal injuries are caused by falls of roof and coal, the need for adequate roof support is selfevident. Inadequate rock dusting and control of coal dust is essential in the prevention of bituminous-coal-mine explosions. Nevertheless, 2,829 violations of State laws relating to the presence of coal dust and the lack of rock dust were observed. The large loss of life in the Centralia disaster was due primarily to the fact that rock dust had not been maintained adequately near the working faces. In Illinois 209 violations relating to rock dusting were reported. State regulations pertaining to electricity were violated in 3,078 instances. Electricity is the foremost cause of gas and dust ignition; currently almost half (44 percent) of the coal-mine explosions are of electrical origin. Explosives rank third in sources of ignition, and during the fiscal year 1948, 1,893 State violations relating to explosives and blasting were observed. The four classes of violations that may contribute directly to explosions represented 13,018 of the 23,386 State violations recorded.
Transportation ranks second in causes of coal-mine accidents, and this high rate is reflected in the 2,576 State violations reported.
Attention is invited to the fact that the violations of State laws covered only those that were violations of the Federal Mine Safety Code or anthracite standards. The heads of some State mining agencies, when they noted violations of State laws in Federal reports, promptly ordered their district mine inspectors to investigate the reported violations and to take appropriate action. The foregoing indicates that Federal coal-mine inspection is a service to the State inspection agencies in finding and reporting violations of State mining laws during Federal inspections. The violations of State laws may be found in Federal inspection reports, copies of which are sent to the State agency having jurisdiction over the respective mines.
The Coal Mine Inspections and Investigations Act of 1941, Public Law 49, requires the Bureau of Mines to cooperate with the official mine inspection or safety agencies of the several States to promote sound and effective coordination of Federal and local activities within the field covered by the act. In addition to the reporting of violations of State mining laws, such cooperation includes (1) calling to the attention of State inspection agencies the hazards that are