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Mining accidents-[Text Tables 59 and 60.]


In the annual reports of the Pennsylvania department of mines attention is occasionally called to the greater frequency of accidents among the non-English-speaking employees. Thus the report for 1905 says:

* During the year 1904 the number of English-speaking miners (including Americans, English, Welsh, Scotch, Irish, and Germans) killed was 88; other nationalities, 145. During 1905 the number of English-speaking miners killed was 98; other nationalities, 210.

The same report also says that the reports of the mine inspectors conclusively show that "more than half of the fatalities (58 per cent) are due to negligence, carelessness, recklessness, and ignorance on the part of the victims." Connecting the two statements, the immediate assumption is that these qualities are more characteristic of the immigrant miner than they are of the native. If so, then which of the foreign races show these weaknesses in the highest degree?

The annual reports of the department of mines do not give sufficient data for the answering of this question. While showing the nationalities of both the killed and injured for many years, they shed no light upon the distribution among the races of the total colliery employeesa knowledge of which would be necessary before any comparisons on this point could be made.

The largest of the 187 operators in the anthracite field is accustomed to take an annual census of its employees by nationalities. In the following table the census taken by this company for 1907 is paralleled with a compilation of the accidents in its collieries during the years of 1906 and 1907, as given in the state mine inspectors' reports.

TABLE 59.-Number and per cent of accidents among employees of a coal mining company during the year 1907, by race.

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TABLE 59.-Number and per cent of accidents among employees of a coal mining company during the year 1907, by race-Continued.

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In the above tabulation accidents of both the fatal and nonfatal classes were included, as it was considered that the final character of the injury was in itself an accident without much bearing upon its cause, and the combination of both classes enabled comparison upon a wider basis.

A number of accidents slightly less than 500 might be considered a very slender basis of comparison. And indeed it would be if the element of chance in mining accidents were actually as great as it appears to be at first sight. As a matter of fact there are few hazardous occupations where good judgment, habitual caution, and skill more certainly minimize danger, and recklessness and bad thinking more certainly invite it, than in the mining of coal.

There are, of course, many accidents which no degree of carefulness will prevent, but, according to the department of mines, 48 per cent of the mining casualties are due to the stupidity or carelessness of the victims themselves and 10 per cent are due to the carelessness of persons other than the victims.

Before undertaking an examination of the racial differences possibly revealed in the foregoing table, it may be well to notice how the various classes and races compare in respect to inside and outside positions.

The following table shows the number and per cent of inside employees of the same mining company:

TABLE 60.-Number and per cent of inside employees, by race or class.

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From the table immediately preceding it is seen that only about one-half of the English-speaking employees work inside, while the majority of both the Lithuanians and the Poles work in the same region of danger. Slightly over half of the Italians are found below the surface, while a small majority of the Slovaks and Ruthenians are found on the surface.

Reverting to the first of the two preceding tables, it is noticed that the most striking variations between the percentage of total employees and the percentage of total accidents are found in the cases of the Americans, the Irish, and the Poles. Most of the American excess of accident percentage is due undoubtedly to the inclusion by the mine inspectors of other English-speaking victims under the head of Americans. In the census taken by the company the nationality is obtained from the report of the individual himself, while for the accident report the state mine inspector generally has to get the nationality from others, usually friends of the victim or his boss. This accounts for the low accident percentage of the Irish.

While probably the same source of error accounts for some of the Polish accident percentage excess, nevertheless the Lithuanian and Polish figures, after making due allowance for error in both cases, is still so great that it gives ground for the inference that here a real race difference is exposed. When it is remembered in how many other instances in this report tables have shown a superiority of the Lithuanians over the Poles, the conclusion gathers strength that the former show greater skill and carefulness in their work.

Both races work mainly inside the mines, the number of Lithuanians being somewhat larger, and both have large representations in the corps of employees of the company under consideration. In the case of the other races the differences are hardly large enough to warrant any comparisons. The significance of the tables, as a whole, gains weight from the fact that, working under the same corporation, all of the races are governed by a uniform policy and a uniform discipline.

48296°- -VOL 16-11- -43




Among the Italians, Syrians, Lithuanians, Poles, and Ruthenians, in Community A, there is a pronounced tendency to congregate in colonies in certain localities. The English, Scotch, Welsh, Irish, Germans, Hebrews, and Slovaks exhibit no such tendency. The Italian colony is the most striking example of race segregation in the community, as practically all of the 400 Italians are to be found in the space occupied by two small blocks. In the other foreign colonies, no complete segregation exists. The Lithuanians and Poles in many cases live side by side, and among them may be found a sprinkling of Slovaks, Ruthenians, and Syrians.

The reason for such segregation is obvious. The Italians gather together to enjoy the social advantages of a common language and common customs, producing in Shenandoah, as in Boston and New York, a "Little Italy," with a social life completely isolated from the other races.

Community of language and customs also accounts for the tendency to form colonies among the other races of recent immigration; but the languages of the Lithuanians, Poles, Slovaks, and Ruthenians do not so completely set any of them apart as the Italian language separates the Italians from the rest of the community. For this reason the Lithuanian, Polish, Ruthenian, and Slovak colonies are not so distinctly organized.

All immigrant houses in Community A are much alike, being inferior in most cases to those occupied by natives. The houses occupied by natives who are engaged in the same occupations as the immigrants, however, show only a slight difference.

Length of residence appears to produce very little effect upon the housing conditions among the immigrants, except when such length of residence results in a distinct betterment of economic position. Immigrants who have financially bettered themselves to any considerable extent tend in general to move into larger and better houses. Continued residence in the same house, or even in the same locality, does not seem to result in any greater attention to house sanitation, nor in any very noticeable change in house furnishing. Many immigrants who have lived in Community A for ten or fifteen or even twenty years are still to be found dwelling in small, illfurnished, and poorly cared for tenements similar to those inhabited by the recent arrivals.

Children of immigrants continue to dwell in the localities which their parents first entered-except in the cases of a general migration, like that which changed the population of the First Ward from Irish

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