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Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, May 26, 1906

The report of Mr. W. N. Atkinson, Inspector of Mines for the Staffordshire district, which embraces Shropshire, reports that the year 1905 was quiet for the coal trade, but there was a slight increase over the preceding year, both in the number of persons employed and in the output of minerals. In Shropshire there was an increase of 16 persons employed, in North Staffordshire a decrease of 103 persons, and in Worcestershire a decrease of 47 persons. The figures showing the quantity of minerals raised indicate that in Shropshire there was a decrease of 11,790 tons, in North Staffordshire an increase of 47,077, in South ,Staffordshire an. increase of 171,583 tons, and in Worcestershire a decrease of 22,652 tons. Eleven machines worked by compressed air produced 120,122 tons of coal, and fifteen machines worked by electricity produced 220,205 tons.

During 1905 there were 63 fatal accidents and 257 non - fatal accidents reported, resulting in the deaths of 68 persons and serious injuries to 272 persons. The figures for the previous year were 68 deaths and 256 persons injured. During 1905 there were four accidents each causing the loss of more than one life, as follows—An irruption of water caused three deaths, an irruption of mud and water caused two deaths, two persons were killed together by poisonous gases, and a fall of ground caused two deaths.

The death-rate in the three counties for 1905 works out to 1.239 per 1,000 persons employed, against 1.245 per 1,000 persons employed in the preceding year. The separate death-rates per 1,000 persons employed below around and above ground respectively were 1.500 and 0.389.

The death-rate per 1,000 persons employed during the ten years preceding 1905 was 1.571, so that from the point of view of loss of life the year 1905 was a very favourable one for the district. Seven accidents by explosions of fire-damp or coal-dust were reported during the year, resulting in two deaths, and injuries to 11 persons. One of these explosions was caused by blasting with gunpowder, and the remainder by naked lights.

Mr. Atkinson says:—“Neither in the district nor in the country as a whole is there much indication that effectual measures are being taken to reduce the great number of accidents by falls. The only hopeful sign is that every now and then a colliery manager takes the subject in hand, and beyond merely specifying the maximum distance apart at which props are to be set, draws up a code of regulations respecting the support of the roof and sides, which, if enforced in practice, will no doubt have a beneficial effect”.

The statistics show that in 1900 90 per cent. of the safety. lamps in Shropshire had screw locks, while in 1905 the proportion was 55 per cent. In. North Staffordshire 38 per cent. of the lamps, had screw locks, compared with 14 per cent. in 1905. It appears that the use of electricity in mines is gradually increasing, and existing installations are being brought into conformity with the rules as far as is practicable.

Submitted by Steve Dewhirst

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