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Ruling may lead to expansion of machine definition

Oklahomans who work in industrial settings are likely aware of the lockout procedures that are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Under these standards, machines that might release energy that could injure workers are supposed to have their energy sources turned off before the workers can work on them. The lockout standards also mandate that employers block off dangerous machinery from workers so that they do not accidentally come into contact with the machines while they are working.

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit expanded the definition of a machine under the lockout rules. The court considered whether two different machines that work together should be considered to be one unit for purposes of turning off the power to both of them.

The court found that two machines that work together and that are unable to perform meaningful work without each other should be considered to be one machine for purposes of the lockout and tag-out standards. This means that companies will be required to turn off both machines when work needs to be performed on one in order to protect their workers.

The purpose of regulations such as the lockout standard is to enforce workplace safety. Workers who must perform work on or around dangerous machinery may be seriously injured or killed if they become trapped in the moving parts or contact the machines. Lockout rules are designed to prevent these types of catastrophic accidents. When workers are injured or killed while they are working, the injured victims and the families of those who are killed might want to talk to experienced personal injury lawyers who practice in the area of workers' compensation law. The attorneys may help their clients to recover workers' compensation benefits to pay for their medical expenses and funeral expenses and to replace a percentage of the income that was lost.

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