(a) No operator or mine foreman of any coal mine shall employ any person to work in such mine, or permit any persons to be in the mine for the purpose of working therein unless they are provided with two openings or outlets to each seam, separated by natural strata, such openings to be not less than three hundred feet apart, if the mine be worked by shaft; if the mine be worked by shaft and slope, such openings shall be separated by one hundred feet of natural strata; and not less than fifty feet apart at the outlets, if worked by slope or drift; but this requirement of a distance of three hundred feet between openings or outlets to shaft mines shall not apply where such openings or outlets have been made prior to July 1, 1971.
(b) At least two separate and distinct travelable passageways designated as escapeways shall be maintained to ensure passage at all times to any person, including disabled persons. The escapeway openings to the surface shall be separated in such manner as shall be prescribed by the director. If at least two escapeways are not available for any reason, all miners in the affected area other than those requisite to remedy the situation shall be withdrawn from the affected area until such time as the escapeway is made passable. Where the height of the coal bed is more than five feet, the escapeways shall be maintained at a height of at least five feet excluding necessary roof support, and the travelway in such escapeway shall be maintained at a width of at least six feet, excluding necessary roof support and in those situations where the height of the coal bed is less than five feet the escapeway should be maintained to the height of the coal bed excluding any necessary roof support, and the travelway in such escapeway shall be maintained at a width of at least six feet. At least one escapeway ventilated with intake air, maintained to the last open crosscut, shall be provided from each working section continuously to the nearest available opening on the surface, and shall be maintained in safe condition and properly marked. Mine openings shall be adequately protected to prevent the entrance into the underground area of the mine of floodwater. Escape facilities approved by the director, properly maintained and frequently tested, shall be present at or in each escape shaft or slope to allow all persons, including disabled persons, to escape quickly to the surface in event of an emergency. Return airways entries designated as escapeways shall be provided with permissible two-way communication systems to the surface, and such systems shall be located at points not to exceed every four thousand feet. On or after April 1, 1978, each operator shall provide lifeline cords, with reflective material at twenty-five foot intervals, from the last open crosscut to the surface along a designated escapeway ventilated by return air: Provided, That in case of a shaft mine such lifeline cords shall extend from the last open crosscut to the bottom of the designated escape shaft. Such lifeline cord shall be of durable construction sufficient to allow miners to see and to use effectively to guide themselves out of the mine in the event of an emergency.
(c) Escapeways shall be inspected and traveled at least once each week by a certified mine examiner who shall place his initials and the date in a conspicuous place or places and who shall file a written report thereon which shall be kept on the surface.
(d) When new coal mines are opened, not more than twenty miners shall be allowed at any one time in any mine until a connection has been made between the two mine openings, and such connections shall be made as soon as possible.
(e) When only one opening is available because of final mining of pillars, not more than twenty miners shall be allowed in such mine at any one time, and the distance between the mine opening and working face shall not exceed five hundred feet.
(f) First-aid materials and such other equipment as the director may require shall be maintained within five hundred feet of each area in which miners are regularly working to which they may have access in case of an emergency and for protection against hazards.
(g) Each working area of the mine not serviced by track-mounted or rubber-tired vehicles which uses conveyor belts for removal of coal shall be equipped with a special capsule in which an injured person can be placed and transported on the belt to the surface or to other transportation facilities. The director shall within nine months of July 8, 1977, promulgate standards and guidelines, or allow to continue in effect any present standards and guidelines, as to what such "special capsule" as used in this subsection shall include. Each section of the mine using or serviced by track-mounted or rubber-tired equipment shall have readily available a vehicle which can be used to promptly remove a person in case of injury.