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Coalmine Accidents And Industrial Diseases

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1943

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he can give particulars of the number and rate of accidents, and notifiable industrial diseases, in the first quarter of this year; whether the rate is increasing; and the factors responsible for such increase?

In the period 1st January to 3rd April, 1943, the number of persons who were killed or seriously injured by accidents at mines under the Coal Mines Act was 869, a rate per 1,000 persons employed of 1.21. The rate is not increasing. No corresponding figures for industrial diseases are available.

Has my right hon. and gallant Friend's attention been called to the increasing evidence that middle-aged and elderly miners are beginning to show signs of tiredness and fatigue, which will increase the accident rate? Will he consider what steps can be taken, particularly with regard to the supply of more adequate food, to abate this tendency?

I am watching the position very carefully. As I pointed out, the rate is not increasing. In fact, the comparable figure for the previous quarter was slightly greater than that for the last one.

In view of the great benefit being derived from the canteens, will my right hon. and gallant Friend take steps to see that the erection of further buildings is not delayed on account of the shortage of material and labour?

I will do everything I possibly can—and I have done—to expedite the construction of these canteens. They are going on at a fairly satisfactory rate, although I would be happier to see miners making more use of some of them.

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware of the increasing accident rate in Durham County? Are the causes being looked into?

I believe there was an accident in Durham County at the beginning of last year. I have not the figures for any particular area here, but, taking the country as a whole, there was a slight decrease as compared with the same period.