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Language and mode of thought are not the only danger in the employment of foreigners. Their ignorance, combined often with recklessness, leads them into dangerous places without consciousness of the danger. In connection with their ignorance, the foreigners are often driven into the most dangerous places or they may willingly take the greatest risks in order to show their willingness to work. Aside from this their desire to make good earnings, while they at the same time work cheaply, leads them to neglect many of the ordinary precautions because the time spent on that is to them wasted. It is thus that through ignorance they may enter a dangerous place with a naked lamp, or willfully fail to put up props at the proper time.
The increase in the number of accidents in the bituminous mines followed the increase in the number of foreigners who entered the mines.
The only dissenting opinion on the part of a state mine inspector or other state or federal investigator, that has been found, dates from 1897. In that year the chief mine inspector for Pennsylvania said in his annual report:
Some people attribute the cause of so many mine accidents to the large foreign element employed in and about the mines. I have my doubts as to that being the case. My experience and observations have been that this class are as careful of danger, if not more so, than many of the experienced miners.
It will be noted that reference is made in the last sentence to lack of caution, and not to ignorance or want of training as a cause of accidents. It has never been urged that the foreigners are more reckless or careless than the Americans, the high death rate among their number being attributed rather to their lack of experience in and knowledge of the calling that they follow. The above statement was published twelve years ago, and, as has already been seen, widely different views have since been expressed in the Pennsylvania mine reports.
OPINIONS OF MINE WORKERS AND ATTITUDE OF LABOR ORGANIZA
In the course of the field investigation, expressions of opinion were also secured from many people well informed relative to the employment of foreigners in the mines. Of especial interest are"the views of the older generation of miners—the Americans, English, Scotch, Welsh, Irish, and Germans. Among these men the belief is general that the presence of the immigrants is largely responsible for the high death rate prevailing. It is affirmed that the foreigners are killed in large numbers in many instances solely because of their own ignorance and lack of training. The English-speaking miners further say that the employment in the industry of a large body of men who, from their intense desire to earn money, are willing to work in almost any place to which they may be assigned, however dangerous or unwholesome, or with any equipment however defective, retards and discourages the introduction of better general conditions for all the workers in the mines. An illustration in point will be of interest. An American miner went to the mine boss with the statement that the roof of the chamber in which he worked was in need of timbering. The mine boss looked at the roof, and said that he thought it would “hold a while longer." The miner then requested another chamber in which to work, saying that he would leave the mine in preference to continuing where he was. He was told that no other chamber was available, and was allowed to leave, a foreigner being immediately assigned to his old chamber. At the time the agent secured his information the foreigner was still working in the chamber and no accident had occurred-a fact that would seem to indicate either an excess of caution on the part of the American or extreme good fortune on the part of the foreigner.
The quotations presented above, together with the tables submitted, seem to indicate that the ignorance and inexperience of the workmen of the races of recent immigration employed in the mines are responsible in a large measure for the high death rate reported. Owing to the large number of factors affecting the situation, no hard and fast conclusion can be drawn, but the inference from the data available clearly warrants the assertion that the employment of immigrant mine workers has a direct bearing upon mining casualties.