THINKSTOCK Employees going into dangerous areas might also wear tracking devices, which can facilitate a quick rescue effort in the event of a rock fall. Other mines, including the Mosaic potash mine in Esterhazy, now include a card-tracking system which requires workers to  swipe in every time they go underground, documenting their name on a computer for dispatchers off site. In other cases, mining equipment has been automated or remote-controlled to reduce the number of workers entering perilous areas. In some mines, a new device has been employed which can even determine whether or not an equipment operator is falling asleep by measuring their eye direction and blinking rates, reports Al Hoffman, chief inspector of mines for British Columbia. If an operator is deemed to be sufficiently tired, an alarm may sound to alert the worker and the pit control operator of his or her condition. Despite these advancements, mining disasters can and do continue to happen across the country, and when they do, every site has a plan. Mine safety regulations vary slightly from province to province, but their procedures are fairly consistent. When employees spot problems, they are instructed to first protect themselves. If the issue is minor, they might fix it themselves, whether that means putting out a small rag fire or turning off a vehicle with an electrical problem. But if the issue cannot be addressed or contained by workers in the immediate area, Crocker says “their job is to retreat to a place of safety” and start the emergency warning system.

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