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You will hear the secretary of mines of the State of Pennsylvania, Dick Maize, tomorrow, and he will give you a lot of detail on that which I do not have.
Mr. PERKINS. You will agree, though, that better mine safety laws have been obtained as a result of the dual system of State and Federal law ?
Mr. DICKINSON. I think in the States they have improved their mining statutes.
Mr. PERKINS. And this simple bill is only a continuation of those laws; am I correct on that?
Mr. DICKINSON. No, this simple bill, as you refer to it, gives police power to Federal mine inspectors. It is a very innocent-looking bill, but very cleverly drawn.
Mr. PERKINS. I value the bill from the standpoint of saving lives. In my district, the other day three men were killed. If that mine had been inspected properly, those three men would not have been killed, and for that reason it is my view we do not have sufficient inspection today and the inspection that we do have from the Government, while it is good, they do not have the authority to do what they should do.
Mr. DICKINSON. I say we should have more inspection and education, but I say we should not give Federal police power; we should not invade the police power of the States with Federal inspectors.
Mr. PERKINS. I wish to state we are not invading the police powers of the State in my judgment, but we are just exercising the police authority for the welfare of the inhabitants of the State. That is my view on this thing.
Mr. DICKINSON. Of course, this is America and we all have a right to our individual views.
Mr. PERKINS. Surely. I agree the educational part of it is fine; we need that and we also need better State mine safety laws, and I think personally we need this bill enacted into law. I think it will be of great benefit and will save many lives all
over the country. Mr. DICKINSON. Well, I have worked under Federal mine inspection where the Federal mine inspector had police power. That is true on all of the public domain of the West.
Mr. PERKINS. The point in my mind is that I cannot see where anyone could have objection to a Federal inspector having police power unless he was fearful that police power might be capriciously or arbitrarily exercised.
Mr. DICKINSON. We do not want to confuse the two. Let police power remain in the State, where the men who wrote the Constitution
Mr. PERKINS. Coal is a commodity of interstate commerce, is it not?
Mr. DICKINSON. That is a twist they brought in beginning with 1933. I have been here all of that time.
Mr. Perkins. Naturally, coal is a commodity in interstate commerce for the welfare of the people who need that coal, and we need laws that will protect those miners, do we not?
Mr. Dickinson. I think you will find your own State of Kentucky has a very fine coal mining law. Kentucky, I am also informed, has a very fine mine inspection department.
Mr. PERKINS. I will agree with you on that. I think this fellow Sisk is a No. 1 State mine inspector and that he has made much im
provement recently in Kentucky, but it is also my knowledge we need more improvement in the reduction of loss of life in the Kentucky mines, and I do not think we can get too much improvement by valuing the lives of the miners the way we should and that we should look at this from a humanitarian standpoint.
Mr. DICKINSON. I quite agree we want all of the help we can get to make the mines as safe as possible. If you can cut these injuries and fatalities 90 percent
Mr. PERKINS. By giving the Federal mine inspector authority to close down an unsafe section in a mine, there is no other natural conclusion to draw but that we are going to save human lives.
Mr. DICKINSON. You do not need it to save human lives. You will save no more lives if he does not have that authority. He has ample recourse. If the inspector finds an imminent hazard, he can report that to the management and to the committee and they will take action.
Mr. PERKINS. I do not think that last statement stands to reason, because if there is imminent danger existing in a particular section of a mine and the mine inspector today had authority to close it and to pull the men out, the men naturally would not work there any longer until that hazard was removed. But if the inspector did not have the authority and the men continued to work there and an explosion occurs or the roof falls and kills these men, we have lost lives that it would have been possible to save in the event this bill was enacted into law.
Mr. DICKINSON. Actually, those things are settled on the ground. The Federal mine inspector is accompanied by a foreman or subforeman or superintendent, and if he will point out where a man is working under a loose rock, that mine official will either instruct that man to bring other men and timber the place, or he will pull the man out and make it safe right away.
Mr. PERKINS. Nine times out of ten that may be the truth; that is the way you and I would do it, but it often occurs we find people who are recalcitrant and ignore recommendations because you have no authority except to tell them their mine is unsafe. We find many like that.
Mr. DICKINSON. Not many; that is a remote thing.
Mr. PERKINS. If it is a remote instance, I cannot see where we should have any objection to this measure. That is what bothers me about the bill.
Mr. DICKINSON. The thing to do is to provide funds for the Bureau of Mines so they may have additional inspectors and educate the mine people of the country, both miners and mine officials.
Mr. PERKINS. I agree we should have more funds for the Bureau of Mines, but at the same time I think we should have this law.
That is all, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KELLEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Dickinson; I am glad you came here today.
Is Mr. Sullivan here, or Mr. Sisk? If not, that closes our hearing today and we will stand adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.
(Whereupon, at 4 p. m., the subcommittee adjourned until 10 a. m., the following day, Friday, June 17, 1949.)
FEDERAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY INSPECTION
AMENDMENTS OF 1949
FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 1949
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m., Hon. Augustine B. Kelley (chairman) presiding:
Mr. KELLEY. The committee will be in order.
Mr. MOSGROVE. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is J. H. Mosgrove. I am safety director of the Big SandyElkhorn Coal Operators Association, Pikeville, Ky.
Before I proceed with my testimony, I would like, with the committee's permission, to submit a statement by Mr. E. A. Starling, safety director, Harland County Coal Operators Association, who is unable to be here at this hearing.
Mr. KELLEY. Without objection, it will be inserted in the record. (The statement referred to is as follows:)
STATEMENT OF E. A. STARLING, SAFETY DIRECTOR, HARLAN COUNTY COAL OPERATORS'
ASSOCIATION My name is E. A. Starling, address Harlan, Ky.; and, I am presently employed as the safety director for the Harlan County Coal Operators' Association. I have been directly engaged in coal mining for the past 42 years.
Twenty-five years of this time was spent in the mines as a coal miner. I worked my way up to the position of a mine superintendent. For 8 years I operated a mine of my own. Following that period, I was a State mine inspector for the State of Kentucky for 7 years. I am, therefore, thoroughly familiar with the actual operations of a coal mine, the State mining law, and its inspection department, as well as with the present policy and method of inspection by Federal inspectors. From my observation of and experience with Federal inspectors, I am opposed to the Congress granting police powers to the Federal Government. From my long experience in coal mining, I am convinced that coal miners cannot be made to obey safety laws. I have found that a great majority of the mine accidents occur from carelessness by the miner and no law will correct this. The State of Kentucky has an adequate mining law but neither the employer nor the State mining department can enforce certain sections of the law pertaining to "safety" without the full cooperation of the employees. Inspections by both Federal and State inspectors merely bring about misunderstanding, confliction of authority, and confusion in the mines. I am convinced that these conflicts increase rather than decrease mine accidents.
In nearly all instances Federal inspectors that are sent into Kentucky come from States north of the Ohio River and have never had any experience in southern mines. Conditions are entirely different in the two sections. Recom
mendations, for instance, for a mine in Pennsylvania would in a majority of cases be wholly impracticable for a mine in Kentucky. I do not think these inspectors are capable of disagnosing the actual conditions of mines in Kentucky; therefore, they frequently take snap judgment and make recommendations that are practically impossible to comply with. This confuses the mind of both the management and the worker. With respect to local conditions with which both manage ment and workers are thoroughly familiar and which management has successfully handled for years, I have heard Federal inspectors argue with mine officials in an effort to get them to change their mining methods simply in order to comply with the code. In some instances management has yielded to these recommendations with resulting accidents and sometimes loss of life.
Generally speaking, when a Federal inspector completes an inspection of a mine, he talks to the operator and the operator asks him how he found things. The inspector in response says, “Well, not so bad." Then he suggests four or fire recommendations which he enumerates. The operator corrects these conditions, and then within a 2-week period a final report is sent to the operator and one posted at the mines with some 10 to 12 recommendations. If the Federal inspector had reported these recommendations originally, they would have been corrected, as were the four or five, and with little added cost, and would not have a condition to exist for a 2-week period.
Personally, I have accompanied Federal inspectors, during an inspection of a mine and working places, and they would see some mine worker in violation of the State mining law, the company rules and the Federal safety code; yet they would say nothing to the violator or the company representative about this. Then some 2 weeks later, the final inspection report would state that some men were noticed jumping on or off moving trips, or some men were noticed without proper and adequate timbering in their plages. Whereas the State inspector, who finds a violator of any of the safety rules of the company or the State mining law or even the Federal code, stops the man, calls his attention to the danger, and makes him correct the dangerous condition or practice at the time, thereby eliminating the accident or conditions.
The Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals has established mine rescue stations, fully equipped with latest equipment, in each of the mining centers. The department is continually training men in recovery work, mine fires, and explosions. First aid classes and contests are held yearly in districts and finally a State meet is held.
I think the records of the Bureau of Mines will show that in the last 40 years. fatalities in coal mines have been reduced about two-thirds. So far as man-hours worked is concerned, coal mining is more than twice as safe as it used to be.
As stated above, I am opposed to the Federal Government encroaching upon the functions of State mining departments. The Federal Bureau of Mines has done a great work in training and educating men to be more safety minded. Instead of more laws the counter measure should be adopted and that is education. In this, the Bureau can help tremendously. Instead of police powers, we should have more education by the Bureau and more application by the operators and coal miners.
In conclusion I would like to say that I have been studying accidents and their prevention for many years; and I find that about 90 percent of accidents are caused by failure to comply with the law, the code and safety rules and regulations.
In my opinion, the Bureau of Mines should be denied police powers and should continue to function as an educational institution and leave the enforcement of present laws to the various State mining departments.
Mr. KELLEY. Mr. Mosgrove.
TESTIMONY OF J. H. MOSGROVE, SAFETY DIRECTOR, BIG SANDY.
ELKHORN COAL OPERATORS' ASSOCIATION
Mr. MOSGROVE. The association that I work for represents 36 coalmining companies producing approximately 10,000,000 tons of bituminous coal annually.
At the outset I should like to state that the owners and operators of the coal mines from my field are as much interested in the development of safety in the coal mines as anybody, and I feel safe in saying that we have done more in the last 10 years in promoting safety than any other interested agency in eastern Kentucky. We feel that it is good business and good sense, and, for your information, all of our companies are banded together in an active, going, safety organization known as the Big Sandy-Elkhorn Coal Mining Institute, of which I am the director of safety. This organization was instituted and is devoted entirely to safety and educational work. We maintain at headquarters a modern mine-rescue station and instruct miners, at no cost to them, in the safe and practical methods of mining coal.
I might mention that neither of these things is required by law. It is my understanding that the subject matter before this hearing which was to be H. R. 3023 has now broadened into the general subject of the Federal police power for mine safety, and my remarks will be directed to the broad, general field rather than to the one proposed. I do not feel that it is necessary to pass this bill to improve mine safety, because, by the Bureau's own admission, the accident rate in the coal industry is being reduced appreciably. A Bureau of Mines release dated August 27, 1948, stated that approximately one-third of the violations of the Federal Mine Safety Code by the Federal coal-mine inspectors in the year ending June 30, 1948, were corrected completely and progress was made in eliminating about 15 percent of the deviations.
It should be kept in mind that at the time this report was made the enforcing agencies were the State mine departments and the Federal inspection department was only making recommendations. It is not my intention to discredit the Bureau of Mines, because it has rendered service to the mining industry in research and educational programs, such as accident prevention, first aid, and mine-rescue courses, that have proved invaluable. I only wish that these functions of the Bureau could be expanded, because that is where the industry needs help. And I would like to say that we would like in eastern Kentucky to have more of them. I think that I am correct in saying that we have one man working out of the Norton Station who teaches minerescue and first-aid courses and who covers eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia. That represents hundreds of coal mines and thousands of miners.
There is the place where the Bureau of Mines could really help us.
Mr. BAILEY. The gentleman might be interested to know that I have an authorization for a Federal Bureau of Mines building in West Virginia on which we hope to get action and construction started in the not too far distant future.
Mr. MosGROVE. That will be very good.
Mr. BAILEY. We hope to concentrate all that inspection work in West Virginia, southern West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky.
Mr. MOSGROVE. I believe that I speak for the entire industry when I say that we wish to maintain healthy relations and that we do need the assistance of the Bureau of Mines The Bureau of Mines has an excellent over-all picture of mining in different States from the standpoint of conditions that are inherent to all mines and are in a position to suggest and recommend improvements that would apply to all, whether they be in Alabama, Utah, or West Virginia. Although there are practices that, if enforced in Utah, would prove helpful, the