Effect of Text Message Alerts on Miners Evacuation Decisions


This work evaluates the effect of increasing level of detail in emergency alerts on underground miners’ emergency evacuation decisions. An offline survey was administered to underground miners, which provided miners simulated alerts with ever-increasing levels of information about fire, cave in, and explosion emergency scenarios. The simulated evacuation exercise evaluated differences in evacuation decisions due to the channel of communication (text message or through a co-worker). The results indicate that the content of the alert messages has a significant effect on miners’ decisions with more miners choosing to evacuate when more detail is provided about the urgency of the situation. The results also indicate that the evacuation decisions of the participants are related to their mining experience, marital status, age, income, and use of technology. Depending on the scenario, 51–70% of the miners chose not to shelter in place or go to the refuge chamber as instructed in the simulation. This tendency to ignore guidance is possibly due to a lack of clarity in the message sent to them or the poorly crafted messages that do not account for how the miners will account for risk under uncertainty. It appears that the miners are acting in a loss-averse manner given the uncertainty, as per prospect theory. This study also concludes that, overall, the channel of communication does not significantly affect the miners’ evacuation decisions. This may bode well for using text message alerts in mine emergency management. This work presents a foundation for developing effective text messages for guiding miners in emergencies by building off existing research on short-form emergency warnings and applying the principles to the mining context to provide evidence for new emergency alert technologies mandated new underground coal mine safety regulations. Future research should evaluate miners’ decision-making using prospect theory to account for miners’ perception of risk under uncertainty, so that persuasive text messages can be designed to elicit safe evacuation decisions.


Mining Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Alert message; Emergency decision-making; Emergency evacuation; Mine safety; Text message alerts

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0925-7535; 1879-1042

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2020 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2020