OSHA announced a proposed rule that would extend the compliance date for certain ancillary requirements of the general industry beryllium standard to Dec. 12, 2018. This extension applies to all processes, operations, or areas where workers may be exposed to materials containing beryllium that fall under the scope of the general industry standard.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for a Limited Extension to Select Compliance Dates for Occupational Exposure to Beryllium in General Industry was published in the Federal Register on June 1, 2018. The extension allows OSHA to complete a planned NPRM that is designed to clarify the standard and to simplify compliance. This proposal will benefit employers covered under this regulation to avoid potential confusion and ensure employers implement necessary and appropriate requirements to protect workers.
OSHA also issued a memorandum stating that the ancillary requirements that are affected by this rulemaking will not be enforced until June 25, 2018. Any provisions for which the standard already establishes compliance dates in 2019 (change room and showers) and 2020 (engineering controls) are unaffected by this rulemaking.
You may participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments during the 30-day comment period.
Proposition 65 Listing - TRIM® VX
Effective May 25, 2018, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has added TRIM® VX to the list of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 65.
Public Health Goals for Cis- and Trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene in Drinking Water
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has announced the availability of the revised draft technical support document for the proposed updates of the public health goals (PHGs) for cis- and trans-1,2-dichloroethylene in drinking water. OEHHA revised the document based on public and peer review comments. The agency has solicited comments on this second public review draft.
Washington State Rules for Construction Demolition to be Updated
Washington State’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) intends to conduct rulemaking to update the requirements in Chapter 296-155 WAC, Standards for Construction Work, Part S, Demolition.
DOSH will initiate this change to remove confusing and unnecessary language as well as add clarification where necessary throughout the rule to improve safety. Other housekeeping changes may be incorporated during this rulemaking.
According to the agency, initiating this rulemaking will benefit the safety and health of employer/employees working in this industry; and, improve the safety and health of Washington residents.
Stakeholder meetings will be held to gather information from parties in the construction/demolition industry interested in updating the requirements of this rule.
A stakeholder meeting is scheduled for June 21, 2018, 9:00-11:00am, to discuss potential rulemaking. No specific decisions have been made regarding the current standard. The stakeholder meeting will be held at the Labor and Industries Tukwila Service location; located at 12806 Gateway Drive South, Tukwila, Washington, 98168. The meeting will begin at 9:00 with doors opening at 8:30 for sign in.
Report on Organic Peroxide Incident Released by CSB
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final investigation report into the August 31, 2017, fire at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. In the days leading up to the incident, an unprecedented amount of rain fell at the plant due to Hurricane Harvey, causing equipment to flood and fail. As a result, chemicals stored at the plant decomposed and burned, releasing fumes and smoke into the air.
CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “Our investigation found that there is a significant lack of guidance in planning for flooding or other severe weather events. Based on other government reports, we know that there is a greater likelihood of more severe weather across the country. As we prepare for this year’s hurricane season, it is critical that industry better understand the safety hazards posed by extreme weather events.”
The Arkema chemical plant manufactures and distributes organic peroxides used to produce consumer goods such as solid surface countertops and polystyrene cups and plates. Some of the organic peroxides produced at the plant must be kept below 32 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent them from decomposing and catching fire. Under normal operation, the organic peroxides are stored in low temperature warehouses and shipped in refrigerated trailers.
Extensive flooding caused by heavy rainfall from Hurricane Harvey caused the plant to lose power and backup power to all of the low temperature warehouses. Workers at the Arkema facility moved the organic peroxides from the warehouses to the refrigerated trailers, which were then relocated to a high elevation area of the plant. Three of those trailers, however, were unable to be moved and eventually flooded and failed. With refrigeration on those trailers lost, there was nothing to stop the chemicals inside from heating up and catching fire.
All of Arkema’s employees were evacuated from the facility and more than 200 residents living nearby the facility were evacuated and could not return home for a week. Twenty-one people sought medical attention from reported exposures to the fumes and smoke released into the air.
In its final report, the CSB called for more robust industry guidance to help hazardous chemical facilities better prepare for extreme weather events, like flooding, so that similar incidents can be avoided. The key lessons for companies within areas that are susceptible to extreme weather include:
- Facilities should perform an analysis to determine susceptibility to potential extreme natural events– such as flooding, earthquakes, and high winds.
- When conducting analyses of process hazards, or facility siting, companies should evaluate the potential risk of extreme weather events and the adequacy of safeguards.
- When evaluating and mitigating the risk from extreme weather events facilities should strive to apply a sufficiently conservative risk management approach.
- If flooding is the risk, facilities must ensure that critical safeguards and equipment are not susceptible to failure by a common cause and that independent layers of protection are available in the event of high water levels.
The CSB also released a new safety video about the incident at Arkema titled "Caught in the Storm: Extreme Weather Hazards." It is available to view on CSB.gov and YouTube. CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “Considering that extreme weather events are likely to increase in number and severity, the chemical industry must be prepared for worst case scenarios at their facilities. We cannot stop the storms, but working together, we can mitigate the damage and avoid a future catastrophic incident.”
CERC Webinar: Psychology of a Crisis
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) webinar on the Psychology of a Crisis addresses how people process information differently during a crisis. The webinar will examine the psychological barriers to communication that tend to emerge in crises, factors that impact perception of risk, and how to build trust to communicate more effectively. The webinar will be held on June 5, 2018, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET.
Meetings to Review Draft Changes to Asbestos Removal and Encapsulation Rule
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industry will hold two stakeholder meetings to review draft changes to Asbestos Removal and Encapsulation, chapter 296-65 WAC. An earlier meeting was held in Tukwila on February 28, 2018. As a result of that meeting and written comments received the Department made some changes to the draft. That updated draft was reviewed at the May 22, 2018 meeting held in Spokane. It is the Department’s intent to leave the draft as is for the two upcoming meetings.
Some of the questions/comments regarding the draft were regarding hours to qualify as a supervisor; what are considered transferable skills; and the elimination of the late fee. Many of the comments were to clarify the intent. The meetings are scheduled as follows:
June 20, 2018:
10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Yakima L & I Office
15 W Yakima Ave
Yakima, WA 98902
June 28, 2018:
10:00 am to 12:30 pm
Associated General Contractors (AGC) office in Fife
3601 20th St E
Fife, WA 98424
These meetings are the first part of a rulemaking process to gather comments regarding the draft rule. Once the Agency has completed rule drafting, it will enter the formal process where a proposed rule is filed with the code reviser and a public hearing will be held to gather comments. The Agency hopes to have a rule proposed for public hearing by September with a rule adopted and in effect by 2019.
Comments can be sent to Gail Hughes, Gail.email@example.com, or 360.902.6772.
NIOSH Studying Condition of Stockpiled Respirators, Surgical Gowns
Millions of respirators and surgical gowns are in storage around the country, stockpiled for use during infectious disease epidemics, such as avian flu or Ebola. But after years in storage, will those items still protect the wearers as they should? A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) team is trying to answer this question through a three-year study at stockpiles around the country. Lee A. Greenawald, Ph.D., a physical scientist and project officer with the agency's National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, provided a snapshot of the project, now in its second year during the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce EXP).
Vacuum Lifting System to Reduce Spinal Load During Airline Baggage Handling
In collaboration with the Ohio State University, NIOSH published an article in Applied Ergonomics on the effectiveness of a vacuum lifting system in reducing spinal strain or loading during airline baggage handling. The study evaluated the techniques (i.e., manual lifting or lifting with vacuum lift system), task (i.e., loading or unloading suitcase), and baggage cart shelf height (61cm or 133.4cm) on lumbar spinal loads of ten subjects, who performed industry average loading and unloading tasks (e.g. 14.5kg) in a laboratory.
The authors found that on average, use of the vacuum lifting assist device reduced compression and shear forces on the lower back by 39% and 25%, respectively. In fact, these forces were reduced below the damage threshold for musculoskeletal injury. The load reduction primarily results from the vacuum lifting device’s ability to support the entire weight of the bag. In addition, using the lifting assist device can result in better posture for lifting by keeping the back straighter.
Approximately 45,000 baggage screeners and 173,700 baggage handlers are employed in U.S. airports by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airline carriers, respectively. The maximum baggage weight can reach up to 70 lbs. or more. Lifting heavy weights repetitively has been identified as one of the main risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall annual incidence rate of work-related injuries resulting in days away from work, job transfer, or restricted work for the airport passenger transportation industry was 5.1% in 2015. This rate was more than 3 times the rate for the private industry (1.6%) as a whole, and the third highest in all job classifications used by BLS. Understanding risk factors of lifting techniques, lifting tasks, and the height of baggage cart shelves is the first step to improving work-related MSD prevention. Identifying how lifting assist devices reduce manual repetitive baggage lifting and handling can ultimately reduce the risk of MSDs.
NIOSH plans on sharing the study findings with safety professionals and worker unions in the airline industry. If you are interested in working with NIOSH on assessing the lifting assist device in the field to evaluate its productivity, usability and efficacy for reducing risk of injury, contact Jack Lu at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 513-533-8158
Maine Contractor Ordered to Pay $389,685 in Outstanding Fines and Address Violations
After multiple investigations by OSHA, the US Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit ordered a Maine roofing contractor who has operated as Lessard Roofing & Siding, Inc. and Lessard Brothers Construction, Inc. to implement a comprehensive safety and training program after receiving repeated citations for exposing workers to falls. The owner, Stephen Lessard, was also ordered to produce substantial documentation to demonstrate the extent to which he is able to pay $389,685 in outstanding fines issued by OSHA.
OSHA cited Lessard Roofing & Siding, Inc. and Lessard Brothers Construction, Inc. for safety violations at 11 different work sites in Maine between 2000 and 2011. Stephen Lessard failed to correct the cited violations, implement appropriate safety measures, and pay accumulated fines and interest, despite being ordered to do so by the 1st Circuit in December 2011. The Court held the owner in civil contempt for defying the 2011 order.
“The 1st Circuit’s order requires Lessard to ensure that all workers at his worksites, whether his employees, employees of his subcontractors, or actual or putative independent contractors, are operating safely, after a long history of his failing to provide adequate protective measures,” said Michael Felsen, Regional Solicitor of Labor in Boston. “When necessary, as in this case, the US Department of Labor will pursue appropriate measures so that employers do not flout the law or gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding employers.”
“An employer that refuses to provide effective fall safety programs, training, and safety equipment needlessly exposes its employees to deadly or disabling injuries,” said Maryann Medeiros, OSHA’s Maine Area Director.
The Court also ordered Lessard to ensure that employees and contractors use required safety equipment and fall protection; conduct worksite safety analyses and meetings; employ a “competent person” to ensure work is performed according to OSHA regulations; notify OSHA about each worksite, and allow inspectors to enter these sites; and provide financial documentation to enable the Department to determine the owner’s ability to pay the fines; submit certification of abatement of the previously cited hazards, and comply with OSHA standards.
In particular, the safety program must include recognition and acceptance of responsibility as an employer, general contractor or supervisory contractor to ensure that all their employees, independent contractors or subcontractors use all appropriate safety equipment and fall protection apparatus and follow appropriate procedures.
If the company owner fails to comply with the order, the court will consider additional sanctions up to and including incarceration.
$191,071 Penalty Proposed for Contractor Exposing Roofers to Safety Hazards
OSHA cited Wichita roofing contractor Jose Barrientos for exposing employees to falls and other safety hazards. Barrientos faces proposed penalties totaling $191,071 for two willful and six serious violations.
OSHA inspectors observed roofers at a Derby, Kansas, residential site working without appropriate fall protection. OSHA cited the employer for failing to provide adequate fall, eye, and face protection; train workers on fall hazards, ladder usage, and hazardous materials; and clear debris from the work area. OSHA has cited the employer for fall hazards five times in the past decade.
“This employer’s continued failure to comply with federal safety requirements needlessly exposed workers to a number of serious hazards, including falls, which are the leading cause of injury in the construction industry,” said Ryan Hodge, OSHA Wichita Area Office Director.
EWP Renewable Corporation to Face $125,460 Penalty after Worker Fatality
OSHA cited EWP Renewable Corporation, doing business as Springfield Power LLC, for 25 safety violations after an employee suffered fatal injuries after he was pulled into a conveyor at the company’s Springfield plant in November 2017. The Mount Laurel, New Jersey, company faces $125,460 in proposed penalties.
OSHA inspectors found that the conveyor and other machinery lacked required safety guarding, and employees were not trained in lockout/tagout procedures to prevent equipment from unintentionally starting. OSHA also cited Springfield Power for fall hazards; electric shock and arc flash hazards; and lack of adequate emergency evacuation, fire prevention; and hazardous energy control programs. View the citations here, here, and here.
“This employer’s failure to protect employees resulted in a tragedy that could have been prevented if training was provided and machinery was appropriately guarded,” said Rosemarie O. Cole, OSHA New Hampshire Area Director.
Professions with Highest Rates of Uninsured Workers
Researchers from NIOSH recently found that the estimated percentage of workers aged 18‒64 years who had health insurance increased by approximately 3.3 percentage points (or 21%) from 2013 to 2014. However, the percentage of workers who had no health insurance varied significantly depending on their occupation.
Lack of health insurance has been associated with poorer health status and with difficulties accessing preventive health services and obtaining medical care, especially for chronic diseases. In January 2014, during this study period, the federal requirement to obtain qualifying health insurance began. In order to observe differences in health insurance coverage by occupation, researchers grouped workers into 22 broad occupational categories and looked at survey responses from 17 states. (Findings from 17 states may not necessarily be nationally representative.)
“Identifying factors affecting differences in coverage by occupation might help to address health disparities among occupational groups,” said Winifred L. Boal, MPH, research epidemiologist and lead author of the study.
The study delineates lowest and highest percentages of being uninsured in 2014 by workers’ occupations:
- On the low end, 2.7% of workers in community and social services occupations and education, training and library occupations were uninsured in 2014.
- On the high end, 37.0% of workers in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations were uninsured in 2014.
- More than 25% of workers in four occupational groups were uninsured in 2014: construction and extraction; farming, fishing, and forestry; food preparation and serving related; and the highest, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance.
- Among the occupations with the highest percentages of uninsured workers, farming, fishing, and forestry and construction and extraction, are also among the most hazardous.
There can be several reasons why workers in specific occupations remain uninsured, including not being able to qualify for Medicaid and/or living in a state that did not expand Medicaid eligibility, not being able to afford coverage, and not having employers who provide health insurance.
Please access the study Health Insurance Coverage by Occupation Among Adults Aged 18–64 Years — 17 States, 2013–2014 here.
Toxic Flame Retardants Found in Children’s Products
The Washington Department of Ecology found flame retardant chemicals in 17 of the 85 children’s play tents, tunnels and chairs that it tested. The flame retardants found include two chemicals, TDCPP and TCEP, that were banned under Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act in 2017, although the products tested were purchased prior to the ban.
Ecology has informed the product manufacturers that these chemicals are no longer allowed to be used in children’s products. The agency plans to conduct follow-up testing in the future to ensure manufacturers are complying with the law.
The positive news in the study is that none of the chairs or upholstered furniture items manufactured after California changed its flammability standard in 2015 contained any of the flame retardants Ecology tested for. Prior to the change, California’s flammability standard was a major driver of flame retardant use nationwide. The new California standard applies to upholstered furniture, but not to tents and tunnels. It does not prohibit the use of flame retardants, but makes it easier for products to meet the standard without their use.
“This is really a good news-bad news story for parents,” said Saskia van Bergen, the Ecology chemist who conducted the study. “We’re not thrilled to find so many flame retardants in the play tents, but the absence of these chemicals in furniture complying with California’s updated standard shows that it’s possible to make furniture that meets fire safety requirements and uses safer chemical ingredients.”
Adding flame retardants to the fabrics used in tents and the foam used in furniture is intended to prevent the spread of fires, but testing has shown little safety benefit from these chemicals. Putting these chemicals in products, however, can lead to significant exposures to people, particularly for children. As materials wear, the flame retardant chemicals get into house dust, where they can be breathed in or get onto hands, clothing or food.
Camping tents are often made with flame retardant chemicals because they could be exposed to camp stoves or other heat sources. A child’s play tent, which is typically used indoors or in a yard, is unlikely to be exposed to flame.
Ecology also tested the furniture, tents and tunnels for several other flame retardants that the agency added to the Chemicals of High Concern to Children list in 2017, which requires manufacturers to report if they use the chemicals in children's products. The Washington State Department of Health is now evaluating these chemicals and plans to issue recommendations by the end of the year.
Parents concerned about their children’s exposure to flame retardants should look for the California label, known as Technical Bulletin 117-2013 or TB 117-2013 when buying upholstered furniture. Furniture that meets California’s fire safety standard without adding flame retardants will clearly state, “The upholstery materials in this product contain NO added flame retardant chemicals.”
For play tents, tunnels and other products that do not carry the California label, there is usually no way for parents to know whether they contain flame retardants without laboratory testing.
Ecology advises parents to require children to wash their hands before eating, which reduces the potential for household dust to be ingested. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can also reduce your exposure to toxics in household dust.
Mosquitoes in Illinois Tested Positive for West Nile Virus
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) confirmed the first mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in Illinois for 2018. North Shore Mosquito Abatement District staff collected the positive mosquitoes on May 25, 2018, in Glenview and Morton Grove. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported so far this year.
"As we see higher temperatures, we will start to see more West Nile virus activity," said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. "Although we see West Nile virus in Illinois every year, don't become complacent. It's easy to take precautions to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of standing water around your home."
Monitoring for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests for mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile virus-like symptoms. People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
The first West Nile virus positive result in 2017 was mosquitoes collected on May 23-24, 2017 in Madison County. Last year, 63 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case. For the 2017 season, IDPH reported 90 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including eight deaths.
Precautions to Fight the Bite include practicing the three "R's" - reduce, repel, and report:
- REDUCE - make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.
- REPEL - when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
- REPORT - report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.
Wearable Detector May Improve Safety for Workers in Confined Spaces
Honeywell has launched a new connected portable gas detector designed to keep workers safe in dangerous confined spaces.
The new Honeywell BW™ Ultra monitors up to five different gases simultaneously, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), while leveraging Bluetooth connectivity to allow safety managers to collect and track valuable data. The new detector also features Honeywell TouchConnect™ technology, which makes configuration, calibration and bump testing fast and simple.
"Confined spaces pose serious, even deadly, safety issues for industrial, oil and gas, hazmat, and utility workers," said Richard Dunn, product manager, portable gas detection for Honeywell Industrial Safety. "BW Ultra's rugged design, ease of operation and ability to detect a wide range of gases brings a new level of safety to these workers. And because it's connected, safety managers can access a wide range of useful data about alarm history, equipment safety and worker training through Honeywell's Connected Worker platform."
The Honeywell BW Ultra was designed using the Honeywell User Experience. The new detector features a larger 3.2-inch display to display more critical information at a glance, a rugged ergonomic design, and a one-button operation. Honeywell TouchConnect technology is designed to help users quickly access calibration and bump test modes and well as complete configuration changes without the need to be connected to a docking system or a computer.
Honeywell BW Ultra connects the safety manager to a data ecosystem. Data from the detector or its IntelliDox docking station is downloadable to a PC, where it can be aggregated and managed through Honeywell's Connected Worker software platform to simplify and speed up compliance tasks. A cloud-based network option will be available soon.
"Many safety professionals spend more than half of their time collecting, analyzing and reporting compliance information," Dunn said. "Honeywell BW Ultra makes compliance administration fast and easy."
Safe-in-Sound Award™ Expands Reach with New Partnership
In 2008, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) partnered with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) to create the Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™. The partnership has now been expanded to include the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC). CAOHC joins NIOSH and NHCA in honoring those that have contributed to the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus through effective practices or innovations directed to those who are exposed to noise at work. With the addition of CAOHC, the award’s outreach to stakeholders will be further strengthened.
CAOHC was formed in the mid-1960s as the Intersociety Committee on Guidelines for Noise Exposure Control. Since its formative years, the Committee encouraged the participation of multiple professional organizations with an interest in preserving the hearing of American workers. Their mission is to advance best practice in occupational hearing conservation, which is in alignment with the goals of Safe-in-Sound.
Many of the interventions described by previous winners of the award have led to elimination of the need for hearing conservation programs or to the reduction in the number of workers enrolled in these programs. In addition, the Safe-in-Sound Award has facilitated the extension of successful hearing loss prevention activities and strategies to workers not traditionally considered in typical workplace hearing loss prevention programs (e.g. musicians, military personnel, workers in services and construction).
In the 10 years of the award, information on real-world success in noise control and other interventions for hearing loss prevention have been widely disseminated through the award website (see information on winners and the program outcomes) and other media. Online traffic to the award website has increased consistently, from 14,000 visits in 2009 to 55,000 visits in 2017.
Also new in 2018 is a streamlined nomination process and the deadline for nominations: July 13, 2018. Consider who is striving for excellence and creating innovation in their hearing loss prevention programs in your day-to-day encounters, and send an email to email@example.com to get a nomination started.
Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Sign Alliance with OSHA to Protect Workers
OSHA and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association Kansas City Chapter (SMACNA-KC) have signed an alliance to protect sheet metal and air conditioning employees from industry-specific hazards.
The alliance will focus on reducing and preventing exposure to falls, struck-by, caught-in/between, electrocutions, amputations, cuts, lacerations or punctures, lockout/tagout hazards, and machine guarding. In addition, participants will use injury, illness, and hazard exposure data to identify areas for greater awareness, outreach, and communication to workers and employers.
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.
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