Except as provided in this section, the operator of an underground coal mine shall not employ, or permit any person to work therein, unless there are at least two openings to every seam worked in such mine, separated by natural strata of not less than one hundred feet in breadth at any point, by which distinct means of ingress and egress are always available to the persons therein employed. Such openings need not belong to the same mine so long as the persons employed therein have safe, ready, and available means of ingress and egress, by not less than two openings; provided that no air shaft with a ventilating furnace at the bottom shall be designated or used as a means of ingress or egress. This section does not apply to:
(A) Opening a new mine; however, not more than twenty miners may be allowed at any one time in any mine until a connection has been made between the two mine openings. Such connections shall be made as quickly as possible.
(B) A mine in which the second opening has become unavailable for any reason, so long as not more than twenty persons are employed therein at any one time and are engaged in the process of restoring the second opening or developing a new opening;
(C) A mine in which the second opening has become unavailable by reason of the final robbing of the pillars previous to abandonment, so long as not more than twenty persons are employed therein at one time, and the distance between the mine opening and the working face does not exceed five hundred feet.
No operator of a mine shall refuse or neglect to comply with this section.
Effective Date: 10-29-1995 .