Impact of government acts improving working conditions

Coal mines

ActWhat it said…Impact
Coalmining Act 1842No child under the age of ten to work. No woman to work underground.Lack of inspectors made the act difficult to enforce. Also women who had worked all their lives down the mine found it difficult to find alternative work.
Prohibition of Single Shaft Mines Act 1862All mines should have at least 2 access shafts.The Hartley Colliery disaster killed 204 men. The accident was caused when the cast iron beam of the steam engine split in two, sending tons of debris down the pit shaft. There was no way these men could survive, until they could move all the debris from the shaft, which they tried. But by the time they got down there, they had all suffocated.
Regulation of Coal Mines Act 1872Pit managers had to have professional qualifications.Pit managers had to undergo training and exams to successfully manage a pit. All who passed received a certificate.
The Coal Mines Act 19118 hour day. No boy aged under 14 could be employed below ground Boys under 16 could not be employed above ground at night, although they could be employed underground. The Act brought in strict regulations to provide for the general welfare of pit ponies working in the mines. The Act required all mine owners to establish rescue stations, provide teams of trained rescuers, and to keep and maintain rescue apparatus.By 1900 the country was still being shocked by serious mining disasters. This act was the main statute regulating mining health and safety in the period up to 1945.

By 1914 coal mining was still a hard and dangerous but slowly improvements were being made through legislation and improvements in the mines themselves:

  • poor ventilation was improved by mines installing ventilation fans from the 1860s onwards
  • risk of flooding improved with the introduction of steam powered pumps
  • transporting coal become easier. First iron rails were introduced to make pushing the coal carts easier. Pit ponies were then taken down the mines to replace the children who had pushed the coal carts before legislation prevented children working down the mines
  • explosions were avoided by using the Davy Safety Lamp. Also electric lighting was introduced into some pits after the 1880s
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