"Examination Questions for Certificates of Competency in Mining" published

1907 by International Textbook Company Scranton, PA


More interesting info from this book

Abbreviations (from page xii)

I. - mine inspector

Pa. (B). - Pennsylvania, bituminous

PAGE 487-488



"*The replies given in this chapter are intended merely to show the method of answering questions that relate to legal requirements. The answers to similar questions should be taken from the latest mine law in each state. The answers to questions similar to those given in this chapter may also be greatly modified by the local conditions. For instance the method in which a mine inspector should apportion his time or a foreman should perform his duties cannot be answered except in a very general way as these must be determined by the local conditions."

QUES. 2500. - What are the duties of superintendents, mine foremen, fire-bosses, and all other workmen employed in bituminous mines of this state? I. - Pa. (B)

Ans. - Superintendent. - The duties of the superintendent of a mine are to provide and maintain the necessary machinery and supplies required for the operation of the mine in accordance with the mine law, and to place at the disposal of the mine foreman the necessary means for operating the mine in compliance with the law; also to make, or cause to be made, an accurate map or plan showing the land lines, mine workings, openings, directions of air-currents, elevations and bearings of tunnels, slopes, and entries, together with the elevations of the working face at the boundary line, and to extend such a map at least once in 6 mo., and to furnish a copy of the same to the mine inspector of the district in which the mine is located; also to furnish the mine inspector of the district, on or before the 25th day of January of each year, a report showing the name of the operator and officers of the mine, and the quantity of coal mined during the year, and such other information as may be from time to time required by the inspector.

Mine Foreman. - The duties of the mine foreman are to keep careful watch over the ventilating apparatus, and the airways, traveling ways, pumps, and drainage of the mine, and to instruct the miners in regard to the timbering of their places, and as far as possible that such instructions are obeyed. He must see that all dangerous coal, slate, and rock are taken down or carefully secured, on all haulage ways, airways, and traveling ways; he must see that a sufficient quantity of props, caps, and other timbers of suitable size are sent into the mine and delivered to the men in their working places as required. The mine foreman shall measure the air-current at least once a week, at the inlet, outlet, and at or near the face of each entry, and keep record of such measurements. The mine foreman is responsible for the proper and thorough construction of all doors, stoppings, brattices, overcasts, or other mine work pertaining to the ventilation of the mine, haulage and hoisting of the coal, and the safety of the men employed.

Fire-Boss. - The fire-boss is entrusted with the examination of the mine for gas; he must enter the mine each morning, within 3 hours previous to the men commencing work, and, proceeding with the air, must examine the airways and each working place for gas, using for this purpose a safety lamp, and leaving a suitable mark at the face of each working place examined, as evidence of such examination. He must not allow any person, except those duly authorized, to enter or remain in any portion of the mine containing a dangerous accumulation of gas. He shall frequently examine the gobs and abandoned places, and all falls of roof or coal, to ascertain if gas is being given off; he shall fence off, and place danger signals at the entrance of all places where gas is found in dangerous quantity. He shall report the results of his examination to the mine foreman, and also enter the same in a book kept for that purpose at the mine, signing his name to each report.

Miner. - It is the duty of each miner to examine his place before commencing to dig or load coal; also to ascertain what, if any, marks have been left by the fire-boss indicating the examination of the working place. It is his duty, as far as possible, to keep his working place timbered and in a safe condition during working hours. If this is not possible, he shall at once cease working and inform the mine foreman or his assistant of the danger, placing a plain warning at the entrance to the place before leaving the same, in order to prevent others from running into danger. It is his duty to mine and properly sprag the coal, and to exercise great care in examining the roof and coal before beginning work.

Drivers- shall see that brakes or sprags are properly adjusted to all cars before descending steep grades, and shall leave cars or trips where they will not obstruct the ventilating current and endanger other drivers. Trip riders or runners shall see that all hitchings are safe, and the cars of a trip properly coupled before the same is started, and if any defect is discovered in the rope, link, or chain, he shall hold the trip until the trouble is remedied. Furnace men must tend the mine furnace regularly, and notify the mine foreman whenever likely to be absent; they must keep a clear, brisk fire, allowing no accumulation of ashes on the bars or in the ash-pot; and cool the ashes before removing them; they must promptly obey the instructions of the mine foreman.

These are the legal requirements, but in addition to these, it is the duty of every one about a mine from the owner to the youngest trapper boy to observe every requirement of the mine law, stated or implied, and to use the utmost possible care to prevent personal injury or injury to fellow workmen. No unnecessary risk should be taken and undue care should be the rule rather than carelessness and each employee or official should assist in enforcing the strict discipline that is absolutely necessary about a mine to minimize the number of accidents."


State Regulations Governing Certified Positions

Page 525-529

"Anthracite Region"

"INSPECTORS.* - District mine inspectors are elected at the general November election under Amendment to Article 2, Section 7, of the Anthracite Mine Law, approved June 8, 1901; term 3 years dating from the first Monday of January following the election; salary, $3000 per year and expenses. No bond required.

Fifteen in 1906

Qualifications. - The inspector must be a citizen of Pennsylvania; at least 30 years of age; have at least 5 years of practical experience in anthracite mines of Pennsylvania; experience in gaseous mines; practical knowledge of different systems of working coal; certificate of State examining board must be filed with the County Commissioners previous to the nomination for election. Inspector cannot act as agent or manager of any coal mine, or hold any pecuniary interest in same during his term in office.

BOARD OF EXAMINERS. - A board of examiners composed of three reputable coal miners in actual practice and two reputable mining engineers is appointed by judges of the county court at the first term of court each year to hold office during the year. Compensation is $5 a day while sitting and 6 cents a mile for mileage. Notice of examination must be given in not more that five newspapers in the district at least 2 weeks before examination, and at least one examination must be held each year, at least 6 months before the general election in November. An inspector, at the end of each term of office, must pass an examination before reappointment.

Certificates from other states are not recognized in Pennsylvania, and no credit is given for a bituminous certificate in the anthracite region. Certificate must be signed by at least four of the examiners, and certificate granted only to those making 90 per cent. in examination. Names of successful applicants must be published in at least two papers.

MINE FOREMAN. - A certificate of competency to act as mine foreman or assistant mine foreman is granted by the Chief of the Department of Mines to all applicants reported by examining boards as having passed a satisfactory examination, as having had at least 5 years of practical experience as a miner, and as being of good conduct, capability, and sobriety.

BOARD OF EXAMINERS. - The board of examiners is composed in each inspection district of the district inspector of mines, ex officio, and of two practical miners and one mine owner, operator, or superintendent appointed by the judges of the county court at the first term of court each year, to hold office for 1 year. The compensation is $6 a day and 5 cents per mile for distance traveled for each member of the board excepting the inspector, and the board shall not sit more than 10 days in any year. Date and place of holding examination not specified, but usually held in the largest city in each district some time in June or July. Each applicant must pay $1 for examination, $1 for registration of certificate; these fees to be transmitted to the Department of Mines.

FIRE-BOSS. - Before any person can perform the duties of fire-boss, he must file with the district inspector of mines a copy of his deposition, made before an alderman or justice of the peace or other person authorized to administer oaths, stating that he has had 5 years of practical experience in mines as a miner, at least 3 of which have been in gaseous mines.

More or less confusion has existed in regard to the positions of assistant mine foreman and fire-boss. The Department of Mines has ruled that every fire-boss in the anthracite regions must be a holder of an assistant mine foreman's certificate. All fire-bosses now have such certificates. The law requires that the workings must be examined each morning before the miners enter the mine, by the foreman or his assistant, and that the fire-boss shall see that no one enters the mine until the foreman or his assistant has reported the mine to be safe.

MINERS' CERTIFICATES. - Before being employed as a miner in an anthracite mine, a person must receive a certificate from the miners' examining board certifying that the holder has served 2 years as a miner or mine laborer in an anthracite mine and has answered intelligently and correctly at least twelve questions in the English language pertaining to the requirements of a practical miner. A fee of $1 must be paid before the certificate is issued and 25 cents for registering the certificate. Such certificates are good anywhere in the anthracite region, but a miner must have his certificate registered in that district at a cost of 25 cents.


INSPECTORS.* - District mine inspectors are commissioned by the Governor, after passing examination; term 4 years, dating from May 15 following appointment; salary, $3000 per year and actual traveling expenses, payable quarterly; bond of $5000, approved by the presiding judge of the district, is required.

*Eighteen in 1906.

Qualifications.- The inspector must be a citizen of Pennsylvania; of temperate habits; have a reputation for integrity; be at least 30 years of age; have at least 5 years of practical experience in bituminous mines of Pennsylvania; immediately preceding the examination; experience in gaseous mines; practical knowledge of the working and ventilation of mines and the properties of gases; and certificate of examining board must be filed in the office of the Department of Mines previous to appointment.

BOARD OF EXAMINERS.- The board of examiners is appointed by the Governor, in the month of January, for 4 years. It is composed of two mining engineers of good repute and three other persons who have passed examination for inspector, or mine foreman in mines generating firedamp, who shall be citizens of Pennsylvania, 30 years of age, and have had at least 5 years of experience in the bituminous mines of Pennsylvania, and shall not hold any official capacity at mines. An examination is held the first Tuesday in March in Pittsburg and is both oral and written. No person may receive certificate whose percentage is less than 90, and each certificate must be signed by at least four members of the board. After the examination, each person examined must be furnished by the board with a printed list of all questions, oral and written, asked in the examination and with each question marked solved right, imperfect or wrong. This board also has authority, when called together by the Governor for an extra session, to revise the division of bituminous coal region into inspection districts, as experience may prove to be advisable. Each member of the board receives $10 a day while actually employed, and traveling expenses. At the end of each term of office, an inspector must pass an examination before reappointment. No credit is given a certificate from another State or from the anthracite region in Pennsylvania.

MINE FOREMAN.- A certificate of competency to act as mine foreman is granted by the Chief of the Department of Mines to all applicants passing a satisfactory examination, and who are citizens of Pennsylvania and men of good moral character and known temperate habits; at least 23 years of age; and who have had at least 5 years of practical experience, after 15 years of age, as miners or superintendents at or inside of the bituminous mines of the State. Certificates of the first grade are granted to persons having had experience in gaseous mines; certificates of the second grade are granted to persons having had experience in non-gaseous mines. A service certificate is granted by the examining board, to persons holding the position of mine foreman at any mine, which permits its holder to act in the same capacity at any other mine in the State having like conditions with respect to health and safety.

BOARD OF EXAMINERS. - The board of examiners consists of a mine inspector, one operator or superintendent, and one miner who shall have received a first-grade certificate of competency as mine foreman, appointed by court of common pleas for term of 4 years, and meetings held annually upon call of mine inspector, usually the second week in January. Compensation, $5 a day and 3 cents a mile mileage. Each applicant who passes pays $3 fee to be transmitted to the Department of Mines.

FIRE-BOSS. - A certificate of competency is granted, by the same examining board that holds examinations for mine foreman, to all applicants passing a satisfactory examination and having the same qualifications as those required of mine foreman.

"Definition of Terms"

"A mine inspector is an official employed by the state. He exercises a general supervision over the mines in his district to see that the state mine laws are enforced, and that the proper precautions are taken by the mine operators to protect their workmen and to keep the mines in a sanitary contion. He is also usually required to investigate all accidents that result in the death or serious injury of workmen in and about the mines.

A mine foreman, first-class foreman, mine manager, or overman is an employee of a mining company. In general, he has charge of the underground operations of the mine and is usually directly responsible to the mine superintendent. In some states, a distinction is made between a first-class foreman or a foreman who holds a first-class certificate, which entitles him to have charge of a gaseous mine, and a second-class foreman, or one who holds a second-class certificate, which permits him to have charge of so-called non-gaseous mines, but not of a gaseous mine. In some cases, however, the term second-class foreman is synonymous with fire-boss. The term mine manager is used in British Columbia as equivalent to the term superintendent in the United States.

The fire-boss, second-class mine foreman, or mine examiner is an employee of the mining company. His duty is to examine the mine for the presence of firedamp or ther noxious gases before the miners enter the mine; in many cases, he also acts as assistant to the mine foreman in the general supervision of the mines and of the company hands.

The shot firer or shot lighter is an employee of the mining company whose duty it is to fire the shots that have been prepared by the miners, usually after all persons have left the mine except the shot firer.

The hoisting engineer is in charge of the engines used in hoisting and lowering men or material"

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