« PreviousContinue »
Senator WILLIAMS. Now on the automatic brakes there was a time of compliance, was there not?
Mr. OZONISH. Yes.
Senator WILLIAMS. The locomotive is supposed to have the brakes. One of the problems we had to work out in the law was whether more than the locomotive would have the brakes, whether the individual
Mr. OZONISH. Any equipment moved by an electric motor would be classified as a locomotive.
Senator WILLIAMS. Locomotives have always had brakes.
Mr. O'BROCHTA. Yes, but not automatic brakes. Most of them are hydraulic but not automatic.
Senator WILLIAMS. And this automatic brake, 3 months were given under the law from the effective date to have automatic brakes. How much of a job is that to put on automatic brakes?
Mr. Ozonish. I imagine that would be a pretty good job.
Senator WILLIAMS. Would you have to put the locomotive up over a weekend?
Mr. Ozonish. Put the locomotive up over a weekend, I imagine so, yes.
Senator WILLIAMS. A lot of that major work that can be done over a 2-day period is done over a weekend, is that right?
Mr. OZONISH. Yes.
Senator WILLIAMS. Let me just understand it. It is not major new equipment, automatic brakes? It can be done within 2 days?
Mr. O'Brocuta. I don't know how long it takes, but they have had it at one time when they used to have what they called the wagons there. They had a spot system of the wagon. In other words, the operator when he dumped the coal in the wagon he pulled the lever and it automatically put power into the trolley wire and the motor went off and moved, so you let it off. The brake would automatically work and the power would shut off.
I believe that interpretation of the law there, is for the safety feature, that if something should happen to the motorman, he drops the controller off and the brake would automatically come off, the safety feature.
Mr. Bishop. You see, sir, why the company got away with this. Here in the law it says:
Each locomotive and haulage car used in an underground coal mine shall be equipped with automatic brakes, where space permits. Where space does not permit automatic brakes, locomotives and haulage cars shall be subject to speed reduction gear, or other similar devices approved by the Secretary, which are designed to stop the locomotives and the haulage cars with the proper margin of safety.
Now that is where the Secretary is approving these different things, specifying what he means by different things like that, and the company is caught red-handed. At our mine we are obliged to go along if the Secretary spells out what he means by these things.
Senataor WiLLIAMS. Who said that to you?
Mr. Bishop. The superintendent or the mine foreman. We have a wonderful safety relationship with J. & L. That is one thing I would like for you to check in on, to have them spell out these things so we can get up some guidelines how we can work together because it is the law and we must comply with it.
Senator WILLIAMS. Špecifically where there is some question of just what is meant and you can't comply because you don't knew exactly what is required ?
Mr. Bishop. This is it right here now. In our mine the general manager sent some what were supposed to be portable toilets out. Now these portable toilets he acquired from Japan were just little seats like this here and it came with a plastic bag. It has a commode-type seat on top. Well, I went in and I said, “Look, Mike, how are you supposed to use these things here?” He said this is actual fact. I think I did have it in my car out there.
He said, “You are supposed to take the plastic bag, raise it up, put it on here and use it.” In other words, it folds up. He said, “When you use it you take it up, tie it up and throw it in the rear.” I said, “You know that is unsanitary.” He said, “You know that is what it says.”
So I got in touch with Mr. Newman who is head of the Federal coal mine inspectors here. He said, “Bishop, I'll tell you this: They can use anything right now until the Secretary spells out what he means by portable toilet."
If a man weighs 300 or 400 pounds, he would mash the whole thing right in the ground. That is a fact. Do you have them at Gateway? They bought six of them.
The same thing with water here. One mine does not have any piped water in the mine but the Secretary says it must be potable. They had to take it out, don't know which way to go. You have to spell these things out.
Mr. Ozonish. You know, Senator, I worked in the coal mine a long time. I am a mason in a mine is what I do. I find these unsanitary conditions, work right alongside them you have to. Like drinking water in the coal mine. We have not had any there for as long as I can remember.
Now these little things here, I am glad we are getting to that because all industry has drinking water available. If you had a disaster in the coal mine and men are trapped where there is no water, if you had drinking water there it might save their lives.
We are working next to a coal mine right now, I would say the barrier between our coal mine and where disaster happened here years ago, killed a hundred some men-we are working right next to that condition and this happened years ago. I had that book at home, I was going to bring it. There were 198 killed at that mine right next to our mine and we have the same conditions at our mine that caused that explosion.
We need these Federal inspectors to come in and examine these mines. We are going to try to demand that something be done, and I hope you are the man that can help us and I think you can. You can, and I hope you do it.
Do we have any men here from-Nick, don't you have something to say?
Mr. DE VINCE. Yes.
You asked : Was a man hurt who was denied compensation. We have a man denied compensation for 3 years and we have records where he has reported to his doctor and his superiors about this accident. This man is here if you went to question him. Here he comes now, you can talk to him.
Senator WILLIAMs. Your statements have been very helpful. We appreciate it.
STATEMENTS OF MICHAEL BRITVICH; NICK De VINCE; HENRY
KNIGHT, JR.; AND ELMER MURRAY, COMPRISING A PANEL
Senator WILLIAMS. Do we want to talk about this injury first ?
Mr. KNIGHT. We have Elmer Murray here who was injured December 5, 1967, and he started to lose time as a result of this injury in March 1968. He was injured in the mine. We have witnesses that were there and saw the injury.
Senator WILLIAMS. What was the accident?
Mr. KNIGHT. The accident was at the Gateway Mine, Gateway Coal Co.
Senator WILLIAMs. What happened?
Mr. KNIGHT. In the act of getting off of the inotor to throw the switch he turned his ankle over and he could not walk very good. He went to the nurse and the nurse even took him home on that particular day.
They have a system up there that you can report for work, they want you to come. If you are not able to go in the nine, they will let you
sit outside in order to draw compensation. In his case he managed to get in the mine. He didn't miss any time as a result of this injury until in March. In the meantime they were taking care of him. The company doctor had seen this.
They tried to tell him there is nothing the matter with him. It was not getting any better. So, when March came around, he just couldn't make it any more, his foot swelled up. He had to go to different hospitals. He went to different doctors. I went to the hospital several times to see him, that is included as part of my job in the local. Sometimes, when I went up, they had both legs bandaged up.
Mr. MURRAY. They still have both of them bandaged up.
Mr. KNIGHT. As a final result, after all this doctoring, they found a bone in his ankle had been broken, and two small bones. They didn't find it, but the people that did find it eventually were the Veterans down in Pittsburgh which was a result of this turned-over ankle. Waynesburg Hospital didn't find it—of course we didn't expect Waynesburg to find it anyway, Brownsville we did. But down at Veterans Hospital they did find it.
We have had a hearing on this case and he has a hearing notice in his pocket scheduled for July 14, 1970. The accident was reported to the company. He made out an accident report, but they failed to pay this man one cent.
Senator WILLIAMS. Except for the period when he was getting his regular wages? December to March until you just could not go on any more and you have not gotten anything else? ?
Mr. MURRAY. No.
Senator WILLIAMS. How about the medical? Who has been taking care of the medical for this long period?
Mr. KNIGHT. The United Mine Workers covered the medical part of it for a year and then they picked up his hospitalization card, his 85 HS.
Mr. MURRAY. They took that off me.
Senator WILLIAMS. Twenty years a miner when this accident happened?
Mr. MURRAY. Yes. Mr. KNIGHT. We asked the international union to restore his hospitalization because he had an injury case pending. They did for a few months and then they withdrew it. Now they have his card and the medical expense now at the Veterans' Hospital is being covered because he is eligible for that.
Senator WILLIAMS. Is this the first time this has been put down for a hearing in court?
Mr. MURRAY. No, I had one before.
Senator WILLIAMS. And you never heard anything after the January hearing?
Mr. MURRAY. Not until I got one report and he canceled it. I had another one before this. They went and canceled that hearing and I just got this one here lately. Senator WILLIAMS. Now you have another lawyer? Mr. MURRAY. Yes, another lawyer. Senator WILLIAMS. Tanazzi?
Mr. KNIGHT. Yes, as a result of the first hearing. The decision has not been handed down yet but as a result of that hearing the company then wanted to look this man's foot over and made an appointment to meet him in June.
Mr. MURRAY. June 15 I went to Pittsburgh to see Dr. E. Owens. Mr. BRITVICH. Senator, I would like to say a few words. As far as these hearings are concerned it took me approximately four and a half
years to process my complaint on these hearings. Just like he says, what they will do, they will set up a meeting and at the last minute they will cancel it out. They just prolong it and it irritates you.
Mr. DE VINCE. I was injured, too. You know, it has been over 5 years ago and still mine is not settled. The credit bureau has my bill now, nobody will take care of it. It has been appealed 4 years ago.
Senator WILLIAMS. Senator Schweiker's assistant, Mr. Siegel, is looking at this. This is certainly the sort of thing that I can only compare these procedures to what happens in the State of New Jersey that I represent. And it does not happen that way when you get injured over there on the job, there is no question about the injury happening on the job. While you are off you get paid what they call temporary disability. Then when you are ready to go back to work or when it is permanent, then you have a hearing to see what you will get in the final settlement. But it does not work this way
when you go for years without anything.
Mr. DE VINCE. This is right. This is what is happening around here and it is bad. It is bad for everybody. If a man gets injured, he does not get any income whatsoever.
Mr. SIEGEL. If he can't be carried somehow on the company's pay. roll—in other words, if the company could sort of bring you in to their doctor and sort of take care of you and you would not be losing time, is that what happens?
Mr. DE VINCE. No.
Mr. Knight. This doctor said there was nothing wrong with this man,
he needed no further care from him. Mr. GORDON. Is the problem that he didn't diagnose it as a disability?
Mr. Knight. He just thought it was a muscle or something. These GP's you know.
Mr. Siegel. You are going to have a hearing on the 14th?
Mr. Knight. If they don't cancel. That is vacation time, too, if we need witnesses. I don't know who is scheduled at that time.
Senator Williams. You have now petitioned Congress.
Mr. DE VINCE. Mine has been over 5 years ago and I have not got mine settled yet. My bill is still there in the credit bureau. I cannot get credit on account of nobody is paying the bill and I have hospitalization and workmen's compensation.
Senator WILLIAMS. I don't understand it.
Senator Williams. Workmen's compensation is supposed to take care of the situation when you are injured on the job and you don't have to prove that you were not at fault and you do not have to prove that they were at fault.
You were just injured while you were working, right?
Senator Williams. You always have to prove you got injured. Now here is a man who should not have any problem with that.
Mr. Britvich. Senator, I wore a brace on my neck for approximately 6 months. I was outside, the longest accident time on record. Do you follow me?
Senator WILLIAMS. I know this business, yes.
Mr. Britvich. Then when I had my hearing I had to bring Nick as a witness working on the same section. The company said I didn't get hurt there. I had the proof. This took 1 year just to prove I got hurt at the mine.
Mr. Knight. Now you wonder why today we have dissident miners and unhappy miners and unsatisfied miners.