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Dr. GOLDWATER. Respirators are divided into two main groups: those of the filter type and those of the positive-pressure type. The filter type may be simple or a little more elaborate. The efficiency depends upon the ability of a thin disk of gauze or flannel to filter out the dust that is being inhaled. In an operation such as you have described and in any kind of operation where there is a high concentration of dust, such respirators are useless, because they become clogged in a few minutes so that a worker has to stop and change the filter every few minutes or he has difficulty in getting enough air.
The positive-pressure type of respirator depends on the supply of fresh air through a hose to the worker. The mask is like a big helmet which fits over the whole head and down over the shoulders. Air is forced into the helmet by a pump, and, of course, the old, expired air is forced out from under the mask.
Such things work efficiently, but they are cumbersome and uncomfortable, and unless the air supply is completely adequate, they make working conditions very disagreeable and sometimes impossible. Respirators for silicosis are in general unsatisfactory.
The other main type of preventive device is in the form of a glorified vacuum cleaner. There are now on the market apparatuses that are manufactured by at least two companies with which I am familiar. One is the so-called drill-vac, which is manufactured by the Spencer Turbine Co., of Hartford, Conn., and the other is the so-called Kelley-Atwell dust trap. They both work on the same principle. They work quite efficiently.
The apparatus consists of a vacuum-cleaner attachment, a hose through which is supplied a strong suction. This hose is attached to a cup something like this [indicating). This is a very rough diagram. The cup fits around a drill this way [indicating], so that the drill fits through the cup in this fashion (indicating]. As the dust is formed by the drill it is immediately exhausted and disposed of this way [indicating]. This type works very well and not only does it keep the atmosphere clear and keep the concentration below the dangerous level, but it also increases the efficiency of drilling. From an economical point of view it is an advantage to have this type. It takes the dust away as it is formed and this results in better efficiency in operating the drill. If this is not used there is a cushion of dust that forms at the point of the drill and interferes with the action of the drill point, so that the drilling does not go on so rapidly, the drills being dulled rapidly. When this cushion of dust is removed, the drills do not dullas rapidly as otherwise.
There is the other factor of having working conditions which are quite safe for the operator of the drills. Those are the main methods of preventive devices.
Mr. GRISWOLD. If there are no further questions, and the Doctor has nothing further to tell us, let us adjourn, to meet at the call of the chairman.
We thank you very much, Doctor, for your interesting statement. Dr. GOLDWATER. I am glad of the opportunity to be with you. (Thereupon at 12:10 p. m., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 1936, the subcommittee adjourned, to meet at the call of the chairman.)
The subcommittee submitted the following reports to the full committee:
FEBRUARY 5, 1936. Hon. WILLIAM P. CONNERY, Chairman, Committee on Labor,
Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The subcommittee appointed to consider H. J. Res. 449, a resolution to authorize the Secretary of Labor to appoint a board of inquiry to ascertain the facts relating to health conditions of workers employed in the construction and maintenance of public utilities, respectfully submit the following report of its investigation :
Your committee held hearings from January 16, 1936, to February 4, 1936, inclusive, and heard many witnesses who testified to the conditions under which workmen were employed at the Hawk's Nest tunnel, Gauley Bridge, W. Va.
From the testimony of numerous witnesses, ranging from actual workers on the project to experts from the Federal Bureau of Mines, the subcommittee finds as follows:
That the Hawk's Nest tunnel was constructed by the contracting firm of Dennis & Rinehart of Charlottesville, Va., for the New Kanawha Power Co., a subsidiary of the Union Carbide & Carbon Co. That a tunnel was drilled for an approximate distance of 3.75 miles to divert water from New River to a hydroelectric plant at Gauley Junction.
That in most of the tunnel the rock which was drilled contained more than 90 percent silica. That in some of the headings it ran as high as 99 percent pure silica. That this is a fact that was known or by the exercise of ordinary and reasonable care should have been known to the New Kanawha Power Co., and the firm of Dennis & Rinehart.
That silica is a dangerous element to health. That when submitted to contact with silica dust the lungs of human beings become infected with a respiratory disease known as silicosis. This disease is caused by breathing into the lungs silica dust.
That the effect of breathing silica dust is well known to the medical profession and to all properly qualified mining engineers. The disease is incurable. It always results in physical incapacity and in a majority of cases is fatal. That for more than 20 years the United States Bureau of Mines has been issuing warnings and information while conducting an educational campaign on the dangers of silicosis and means of prevention. That the principal means of prevention are wet drilling, adequate and proper ventilation and circulation of air, the use of respirators by the workmen, and drills equipped with a suction or vacuum-cup appliance.
The subcommittee finds that there was an utter disregard for all and any of these approved methods of prevention in the construction of this tunnel. That the dust was allowed to collect in such quantities and became so dense that visibility of workmen was lowered to a few feet. That workmen left the tunnel at the close of a working shift with their clothing and bodies covered with a dense coating of white silica dust. That the air circulating system was inadequate, insufficient, and out of repair. That respirators were not furnished to, or used by, the employees of Dennis & Rinehart. That the majority of drills in use were used for dry drilling. That dry drilling is more rapid and effects a large saving in time and labor cost. That no appliances were used on the drills to prevent concentration of dust in the tunnel. That gasoline locomotives were used in the headings as well as the tunnel entrance and that as a result there was great suffering from monoxide gas among the workers.
That the whole driving of the tunnel was begun, continued, and completed with grave and inhuman disregard of all consideration for the health, lives, and future of the employees.
That as a result many workmen became infected with silicosis; that many died of the disease and many not yet dead are doomed to die from the ravages of the disease as a result of their employment and the negligence of the employing contractor. That such negligence was either willful or the result of inexcusable and indefensible ignorance there can be no doubt on the face of the evidence presented to the committee.
Your subcommittee further finds that the disease of silicosis is prevalent in many States where mine and tunnel operations are now, or have been in the past, in progress. The subcommittee is of the opinion that the investigation thus far has but laid the groundwork and opened the subject for further investigation. That silicosis is one of the greatest menaces among occupational diseases and that State laws governing prevention and compensation are totally inadequate.
It is impossible in this report to go into details concerning all of the testimony. We suggest that the hearings be read in their entirety. The record presents a story of a condition that is hardly conceivable in a democratic government in the present century. It would be more representative of the middle ages. It is the story of a tragedy worthy of the pen of a Victor Hugo—the story of men in the darkest days of the depression, with work hard to secure, driven by despair and the stark fear of hunger to work for a mere existence wage under almost intolerable conditions.
The officials of the contracting firm, Mr. P. H. Faulconer, the president, and Mr. E. J. Perkins, the vice president, were requested to appear before the subcommittee but declined to do so, stating that they had no knowledge of any deaths from silicosis contracted on the work. The record, however, shows that the firm paid some claims for death from the disease.
The subcommittee is of the opinion that these officials should be brought before a committee, bringing with them their books and records.
The committee, therefore, recommends that a resolution be presented to the House asking for sufficient funds and authority to require the attendance of witnesses and to do all things necessary to procure a full and complete investigation.
Your subcommittee can do not more. Congress should do no less than to see that these citizens from many States who have paid the price for the electricity to be developed from the tunnel are vindicated.
If by their suffering and death they will have made life safer in future for the men who go beneath the earth to work, if they will
have been able to establish a new and greater regard for human life
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C., February 7, 1936. Hon. WILLIAM P. CONNERY, Jr., Chairman, Committee on Labor,
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. MY DEAR CHAIRMAN CONNERY: In my capacity as a member of the subcommittee which held hearings on the silicosis situation which developed from the construction of the Hawks Nest tunnel at Gauley Bridge, W. Va., I desire to file this individual opinion, to wit:
1. I attended all of the hearings except one, and the testimony tended strongly to impress upon me the belief that the disregard of safety laws and regulations, lack of proper equipment, and unsatisfactory labor conditions contributed in a marked degree to the silicosis problem, which is of national importance.
2. Failure of the officials of the construction firm of Rhinehart & Dennis to accept the invitation of the committee to appear is regretted, as I am certain the members of the committee desire very strongly to hear the “other side” in this controversy. For this reason I feel that the committee should be given the power of subpena.
3. Expert medical testimony causes me to believe that a thorough investigation of silicosis throughout the United States would be of much benefit and perhaps bring about a broad understanding of this disease which might well be the basis for constructive State legislation. Faithfully yours,