The shaft is frequently called the miners’ tomb; and it is said that the Belgians have intentionally named it The Grave La Fosse).
In some mines, so many accidents have occurred in the shaft, that the men never enter it without fear. Great improvements have been made in the mode of ascending or descending, and at the present day the apparatus is considered nearly perfect.
The first improvement for the protection of men ascending and descending, was to cover the tubs with a roof, or bonnet, so that falling materials would injure nobody. Besides this, the heads of the men are shielded by hats made of sheet iron or stout leather. An indicator is kept in front of the engine man, so that he knows precisely the position of the tub; and if there are two tubs in the shaft, one ascending and the other descending, he may know when they pass on their way. In some coal mines the tubs or cages are double-decked, and some of them have four tiers or decks.