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(ALLEGHENY, WASHINGTON AND BEAVER COUNTIES.)
Idlewood, Pa., February, 1896. Hon. James W. Latta, Secretary of Internal Affairs:
Sir: In accordance with the requirements of the mining law, approved May 15, 1893, I herewith submit for your consideration, my annual report for the year ending December 31, 1895.
I am pleased to report that the prospects for the coal business in this district, are now much brighter than when I submitted my last report, but taking into consideration the fact that the producing capacity of the district has increased enormously during the past five years, I do not anticipate that very many of the mines will be operated to their full capacity in the near future.
A very large quantity of the coal mined during the summer months is shipped to the lake ports for the northwestern trade, and it naturally follows that the mines largely dependent upon this particular trade must of necessity run on short time, from the time lake shipments are suspended in the fall, until they are again resumed the following spring; hence a large number of the miners have very little employment during the winter season.
The operators and miners seem to have come to an amicable settlement as to the mining rates and other differences that had existed between them, and which have caused no small degree of contention during the past three years, and let us hope that the settlement will be permanent and that peace and harmony will prevail between them hereafter.
Eighteen persons lost their lives in and about the mines during the year, twelve having been killed by falling slate, four from having been run over by coal cars, and two by explosions of gas.
Of the whole number of deaths from falls of slate, only about five can be classed as purely accidental; five others could have saved themselves if they had exercised proper care, and at least two came to their death because they were incompetent to recognize the danger, and were not familiar with the methods of self protection.
Smith, the Hungarian miner, who was killed in the Morgan mine by an explosion of gas, came to his death by his own folly, or perhaps it would be more correct to say that the poor fellow knew absolutely nothing about the dangers attending the mining of coal, otherwise he would not have gone into the mine in the manner he did, knowing full well that it had been closed down, and ventila tion suspended for about two weeks.
Bagalett, who died from the effects of injuries received in a gas (“xplosion in the Brier Hill mine, lost his life from causes not directly comected with the ordinary danger always attendant upon the mining of coal. The gas which caused this explosion escaped into the mine from an oil well that is drilled down through the mine workings, and we may here state that it was extremely fortunate that this accident was not attended with much greater loss of life. I trust I may not have to record any further loss of life from similar accidents in the fututre, but of this I have grave doubts.
In the mine above mentioned, and in a number of other mines in the same vicinity, the territory is perforated with oil and gas wells; some of these wells are drilled through the working places, some are drilled through the old abandoned works and others are drilled through the solid coal. By exercising proper precaution, danger may be averted (for the present) from the wells which are in the solid coal, that is in territory where they can be located and marked on the mine maps; but the wells that are drilled through the workings and abandoned parts of the mine, I regard as a source of ever present danger, which may at any time be the cause of very serious results.
I have dwelt at some length upon this subject in some of my previous reports to your department suggestive of the necessity of legislative action thereon, hence I deem it unnecessary to offer any further comments at this time. (For further particulars in relation to the gas explosions above mentioned we refer the reader to our comments upon the accidents in another part of this report.)
Among the persons who are killed in the mines every year there are a number of sojourners from other countries who do not speak our language, and sometimes we cannot ascertain whether they leave families behind or not, consequently the number of widows and orphans reported may not always be correct. As far as I am informed, there were eight wives made widows and seventeen children orphaned by the casualties which occurred in this district during the past year, three of the widows and right of the orphans being residents of foreign countries.
The production of coal is about 455,000 tons more than for the year 1894, and the number of employes is about the same as for that Veal.
By referring to the statistical report it will be noticed that very few of the mines were operated at nearly full time, and quite a number were in operation only about half time.
I am pleased to say that with some few exceptions, the sanitary condition of the mines in the district is generally satisfactory.
In three different cases, I have, during the year, found it necessary to invoke the aid of the courts in enforcing the law; in one case the action was against a number of miners for using crude petroleum oil in the mine for lighting purposes; the second case was an action against a mine manager for failing to keep safety gates on top of a shaft in good repair, so that they might be effective for the purpose for which they were provided. I also found it necessary to take legal action against an operator for neglect in not making and keeping in repair a second passageway leading from the escape outlet into the body of the mine, as required by law.
I fully realize the necessity of filing my reports in your department as early as possible, so as to aid you in preparing it for publica tion at an early date, and I regret that I cannot be more prompt in the matter. I find it necessary every year to make several written requests to certain operators, and oftentimes to go to their office personally before I can obtain their annual returns, which is the reason that my reports are delayed, but I presume that our inconvenience and loss of time is of no concern to the parties above mentioned.
In the present instance I am compelled to make an estimate in several cases, because I have failed to obtain the proper returns, but I believe the estimates are about correct. Total production run of mine coal in tons of 2,000 pounds,
4,693,508 Total production in tons of coke,
5,000 Number of mines in district,
72 Number of employes inside,
9,07:3 Number of employes outside,
765 Total number of employes,
9,838 Number of persons killed in and about the mines,
18 Number of non-fatal injuries, Number of wives made widows by above fatalities, Number of orphans from same cause,
17 Number of tons of coal produced per life lost,
260.750 Number of tons of coal per person injured,
85,337 Number of persons employed per life lost,
546 Number of persons employed per non-fatal injury,
179 Number of horses and mules in use,
644 Number of steam boilers in use,