Coal mining in the UK : recent effects of technological change on productivity and safety
The thesis starts by defining technological change, productivity and safety. Different definitions are discussed and their merits compared. A brief history of coal mining, together with a description of the state of the mining industry at present is given. Technological innovations recently adopted by the industry are discussed. The concept of productivity in relation to the coal industry of the U.K., and the deficiencies of the present measurement technique, are fully explained. Safety in the coal mining industry of the U.K. is investigated. A brief history is given, together with a full discussion of the consequences and costs of accidents. The concept of technical productivity is introduced and its relation to total productivity explained. The total productivity concept is then applied to longwall coal faces. A multi-variable non-linear model is devised which represents mean total productivity of all longwall faces to an accuracy of about J7G. The model is tested and a forecasting method suggested. Total productivity components are analysed and values for the productivity of various inputs during the period 1958-1980 given. Similarly, a model for representing safety, based on costs, is introduced, tested for accuracy and its components analysed. By applying marginal analysis to the total productivity and safety models, the influence of technological change on productivity and safety are quantified. It is concluded that a new method for measuring productivity should be adopted, in which case total productivity would be the most realistic and comprehensive choice. The models introduced can serve as useful tools in planning and forecasting, as well as being used to measure productivity and safety. Since this work has been in progress, work at the NCB has also led to consideration of improved measures of productivity.