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Articles Posted in Construction Accidents

If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, your injuries may prevent you from performing the duties of your job. If you are unable to work for an extended period of time, the lost wages can be financially devastating. Fortunately, workers’ compensation exists to cover a percentage of your normal wages if you cannot work due to an on-the-job injury or illness. But when do those benefits kick in? For some people, even a few weeks without a paycheck can be disastrous.

As with most things in life, all workers’ comp cases are unique. However, the paragraphs below gives an idea of the general timeline you can expect once you file your workers’ comp claim. A MA workers’ comp attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Seek Medical Attention

Your injury is the official kickoff of your workers’ compensation claim. As such, you will want to take certain steps immediately following your injury to ensure that your claim is received and completed in a timely manner, namely, seek medical attention. Not to mention, medical treatment after an accident is in the best interest of your overall health and well-being. In MA, as in most other states, either the employer or its workers’ comp carrier must pay for an injured employee’s medical bills as soon as the claim is filed. In layman’s terms, you don’t have to wait for approval to receive compensation for medical expenses.

Report the Injury to Your Employer

Step two is to report your injury to your employer, and do so in writing. As soon as you report your injury, your employer is obligated to provide you with a claim form. Fill this form out completely and file immediately. And don’t forget to keep a copy for your records.

Employer’s Responsibility

At this point, your employer is required to notify its insurance carrier immediately to arrange for medical treatment and compensation. In some cases, the employer must also submit a wage verification form to the insurance company.

Wait on the Insurance Company’s Decision

Once the claim has been received by the insurance company, the insurer has 30 days within which to either accept or deny the claim. If approved, the insurer will begin paying benefits almost immediately. If denied, you have a small window within which to request a review hearing. In most cases, the hearing will occur within 30 days of your request, and a final decision will usually be made within 15 days.

To summarize, if you take immediate steps to ensure that your claim is processed as quickly as possible, and your claim is approved on the first try, you should start receiving benefits within one month. That being said, initial claims are often denied due to minor application errors or omissions. That is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Boston workers’ comp attorney. With skilled legal representation, you are more likely to receive the full benefits you deserve in a timely manner. Continue reading

The widow of one of two workers who died in a 2016 explosion at a New York asphalt company has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her husband’s employer. At the time of the accident, the workers were using a blow torch, which ignited vapors coming from liquid asphalt in the holding-tank they were heating.

The Glenville, NY based Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions was cited for two safety violations that may have contributed to the tragic incident. As a result, Mohawk had to pay more than $17,000 in fines to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Now Karen Nichols, the wife of Joseph Nichols—the 56-year-old worker who was killed on the job—is suing the asphalt company, alleging negligence.

According to the lawsuit, Nichols was told to use a blow torch to loosen a clog in the line of a holding tank. A work crew had added a mixture of asphalt and kerosene into the holding tank, but it had thickened and become clogged. Nichols was instructed to heat the clogged area in an effort to soften the mixture so that it could flow freely through the line.

The lawsuit alleges that Joseph Nichols was wearing flammable clothing at the time of the explosion, and that a broken fire extinguisher prevented his co-workers from quickly extinguishing the flames. Due to severe burns covering most of his body, and other related medical complications, Nichols died two days after the accident. Failure to provide appropriate protective gear was one of the violations Mohawk was cited for by OSHA. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Wrongful Death or Workers’ Compensation?

Although the wrongful death lawsuit against Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions does not specify an exact dollar amount in damages, a lawyer working with Nichols’ widow says it “could be a substantial amount.” This case brings up an important question—when a worker dies as a result of an on-the-job accident, doesn’t workers’ compensation handle the claims of a surviving spouse? If the accident was the victim’s fault, workers’ compensation may indeed be the more appropriate solution. However, when another’s negligence was involved, the surviving spouse may be entitled to a far larger sum by filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent party or parties.

Was Negligence a Factor?

In order to prove that negligence caused another’s death, and that a surviving family member is entitled to damages, the following factors must have existed:

  • A person died;
  • due to the negligence of another; and
  • surviving family members have suffered damages as a result of the person’s death.

The fact that Mohawk had to settle with OSHA for safety violations will likely factor heavily into Nichols’ case. If you have lost a loved one to the negligence of another, a Boston wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to obtain compensation. Continue reading

Construction is widely known as one of the most dangerous occupations, but many common construction accidents—and their resulting injuries—are easily preventable. By grouping the most common causes of construction accidents into different categories, we can better understand why they occur and how to prevent them.

The four most common construction accident categories are as follows:

  • Electrical incidents: Electrocution is common in the construction industry, and this type of injury is often fatal. By following certain safety precautions, however, electrocutions are one of the easiest accidents to prevent. Most often, electrocution occurs when a worker comes into contact with a power line, or through improper use of electrical equipment, such as extension cords.
  • Falls: Just as electrocutions are easy to prevent with proper safety practices, so are falls. When working in high places or on elevated platforms, workers should always be equipped with personal fall protection gear. In addition, the improper use of scaffolds and ladders contribute to serious falls in the construction industry every year. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
  • Struck-by accidents: According to a recent report by Lorman, a professional training and regulatory company, when it comes to struck-by accidents, “in the great majority of cases, cranes and trucks are the main cause of accidents and deaths.” In addition to cranes and trucks, falling objects can also strike and seriously injure, or kill, construction workers. By ensuring proper use of cranes, adherence to safe driving practices, and proper storage and installation of objects and equipment, struck-by accidents can be dramatically reduced.
  • Trenching and evacuation accidents: Sadly, trenching and evacuation accidents are commonly fatal. As such, taking strict preventative measures to avoid these accidents is of the utmost importance. In addition to cave-ins, trenching and excavation fatalities are often the result of the inhalation of toxic fumes, a lack of oxygen, or drowning.

Of the four categories above, falls are responsible for the most serious and fatal work accidents in the construction industry. In fact, in 2016, nearly 40 percent of all fatal construction injuries were a result of falls. A total of 5,190 workers were fatally injured on the job in 2016, and more than 20 percent of those occurred in construction. As sobering as these statistics may be, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds us that the vast majority of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented.

Most Common OSHA Violations

In 2017, OSHA conducted tens-of-thousands of safety inspections in businesses across the nation. The agency is responsible for establishing, and enforcing, workplace safety regulations. When violations are discovered, the workplace must resolve the issues immediately, at the very least. In many cases, employers face large fines. According to its website, the top 10 OSHA violations for 2017 were:

  • Fall protection;
  • Hazard communication procedures;
  • Scaffolding safety requirements;
  • Respiratory protection;
  • Hazardous energy control;
  • Ladder safety;
  • Powered industrial truck safety regulations;
  • Requirements for machinery and machine guarding;
  • Training to prevent fall protection; and
  • Electrical wiring methods and equipment safety.

A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been hurt in a work-related accident. Continue reading

Data provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that, of the 4,693 worker deaths in 2016, more than 20 percent (991 workers) occurred in the construction industry. The top four causes of construction worker deaths – dubbed the fatal four – were falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions and getting “caught in” or crushed by equipment. The fatal four accounted for 63.7 percent of the fatal accidents. The exact breakdown is as follows:

  • Falls – 384 fatalities
  • Struck by an object – 93 fatalities
  • Electrocutions – 82 fatalities
  • Caught in or between objects – 72 fatalities

The above data is proof that construction sites are one of the most dangerous workplaces in the United States today. Due to heavy equipment, electrical work, temporary structures and extreme heights, serious injuries and deaths are shockingly common in this industry.

It is the employer’s duty to take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards in the workplace that could cause serious injury and death. When employers fail to do so, and a worker is injured or killed, the employer may be liable. Although workers’ compensation often provides benefits for work-related injuries, you may be entitled to additional compensation if the employer was negligent?

Was My Employer Negligent?

The help of an experienced MA work injury lawyer is essential when determining whether employer negligence was a factor. Some common indicators of negligence at construction sites include:

  • Falls due to unstable, slippery or cluttered walkways or platforms;
  • Lack of protection around platform edges;
  • Unprotected holes in the floor and walls;
  • Improperly positioned ladders;
  • Inadequate fall protection equipment and training;
  • Trench collapse due to lack of, or improper, safety guards;
  • Lack of proper supervision;
  • Poor equipment maintenance; and
  • Overall lack of training.

Filing a Lawsuit

If you are injured in a work-related construction accident, an experienced Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. If you lost a loved one in a work-related construction accident, you may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to bring a successful wrongful death suit, you should be able to show that:

  • Your loved one died as a result of the employer’s negligence;
  • You have suffered losses due to your loved one’s death; and
  • If your loved one had lived, he or she could have recovered damages for pain and suffering from the defendant.

Losses may include, but are not limited to:

  • financial support;
  • love;
  • emotional support;
  • consortium between spouses; and
  • quality of life.

If you are concerned that your workplace is unsafe, speak to a supervisor immediately. If your supervisor is unable, or unwilling, to address your concerns, you can always report the problem to OSHA, the agency tasked with establishing – and enforcing – workplace safety guidelines. Employers that violate OSHA guidelines will be required to remedy the situation within a specified time period and may face fines for the violation. Continue reading

When workers are injured or become ill on the job, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are paid out of an insurance policy held by the employer which protects both employer and employee. The employee is generally entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages in exchange for agreeing not to sue the employer. Lost wages can be financially devastating for a family; the benefits provided by workers’ comp can be a life saver.

Fortunately, workers’ comp covers most work-related illnesses and injuries. Unfortunately, workers’ comp claims can be lengthy and complicated, and even a minor error can result in delayed or reduced benefits. Two of the most confusing aspects of workers’ comp are the waiting period and retroactive period. The information below will help you understand these two requirements, and how they may impact your claim. A MA workers’ comp lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

Waiting Period

The waiting period refers to the number of days the injured worker must miss work before he or she may begin to receive indemnity payments. Although the waiting period may seem unfair to a newly-injured worker, there are two important reasons for its existence. For one, waiting periods are intended to prevent workers with minor injuries from filing frivolous claims. Knowing that she is going to lose wages for at least the duration of the waiting period, an employee with a minor injury will be less likely to file a claim, knowing that the loss would almost certainly outweigh the gain.

In MA, the waiting period is five days. If you are injured and miss five or less days of work, you will receive no benefits. If you are injured and miss more than five days of work, you will receive benefits for the days that exceed the waiting period. In some cases, employers will allow injured workers to use sick or vacation days to cover the days missed during the waiting period.

Retroactive Period

If the injured worker fulfills the requirements of the retroactive period, he or she will receive benefits for work days they missed during the waiting period. In MA, the retroactive period is 21 days.

Consider Laurie’s case. Laurie injures her back in a work-related accident and is temporarily unable to work. In all, Laurie misses 38 days of work. For the first five days, Laurie receives no pay due to the waiting period requirement. On the sixth day, Laurie begins receiving indemnity payments. On the 21st day, Laurie satisfies the retroactive period requirement, and thus, receives payment for the first five days of missed work.

If, on the other hand, Laurie had returned to work after only 20 days (before the 21-day retroactive period), she would not have received compensation for the first five days of work she missed. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

It’s cold outside. Really cold. For those who have to work outside in the elements, the cold can be more than just a nuisance. It can be deadly. Winter 2018 is expected to be one of the coldest in years. Even so, some people have no choice but to brave the elements. Many construction workers, for example, work outside year round, even during New England’s harshest winters.

Tips for Keeping Construction Employees and Contractors Safe When it’s Cold

If your employees work outside for extended periods during winter months, what can you do to protect their health and safety, and reduce your liability? The tips below can help.

 

  • When temperatures are extreme, limit outside work schedules so that workers are in the elements for shorter periods of time. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

 

  • Require workers to wear proper gear at all times. If they don’t have their own gear, supply it. Every worker should be equipped with a heavy coat, boots, gloves, and a hat. Gear should be water resistant, and shoes should have nonslip soles to prevent slipping on snow or ice.

 

  • Watch weather forecasts. If a blizzard is on the horizon, working outside could be dangerous. Even driving to and from the job site could put workers at unnecessary risk. If heavy snowfall and ice are in the forecast, consider taking the day off.

 

  • Ensure that workers have access to a warm area for breaks. When the weather outside is frightful, workers need a place to escape from the elements and warm themselves. A heated trailer or tent can do the trick.

 

  • Tell workers to limit their coffee intake. Although a cup of hot coffee might seem like the perfect winter warmer, caffeine can increase the heart rate, making someone feel warmer than they actually are. That being said, fluids are important when it’s cold outside. Workers should drink plenty of water throughout the day.

 

  • Inspect the work site before work begins, every Snow and ice accumulation and downed power lines can occur during the night, and pose serious risks to workers. Before work begins each morning, make sure that no hazards developed during the night.

 

  • Address any hazards. If snow and ice accumulated during the night, it should be removed or addressed before work begins. If it cannot be removed, sand or kitty litter should be put down to increase traction. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured at work.

 

  • Work vehicles should be inspected at the start of the winter season. Ensure that each vehicle is in proper working order and that it is equipped with an emergency kit, including ice scraper, shovel, flashlight, emergency flares, tow chain, a blanket, sand or kitty litter, water, and snacks.

 

  • Train workers on what to do if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident or become stranded, both of which present added consequences during extreme weather.

 

  • Ensure that workers are trained on first aid, and how to recognize signs of hypothermia and frostbite.

Continue reading

Serious construction accidents have been on the rise in recent years, especially in high-population areas, such as Boston, New York, and New Jersey. In response, safety advocates are pushing for increased training requirements for workers in the construction industry. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced his plan to implement additional construction worker training requirements, but the real estate industry has concerns. Why?

If de Blasio and New York union leaders achieve their goal and increase training requirements for the construction industry, workers will need to receive dozens of hours of additional training, which translates to higher real estate costs and less time to complete construction jobs. Politico reports that, “In response to a recent uptick in injuries and deaths, City Hall is proposing a requirement that all workers be trained between 54 and 71 hours.” And the extra training doesn’t stop there.

The “proposal would require an extra 30 hours of training for supervisors, and certain workers would have to undergo additional ‘task specific training,’ such as working in confined spaces and with scaffolding.” Extra training couldn’t be anything but positive for the safety and well-being of construction workers and the general public, but it’s evident why the real estate industry is concerned. Before the proposed deal is approved, however, it requires City Council approval. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you or a loved one has been injured in a work-related accident.

Construction Safety

It’s as-yet unknown whether the new proposal will pass. In the meantime, construction workers and employers can dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury or death by following the safety guidelines below:

  • Workers should always use personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles, foot protection, slip resistant, safety-toed boots, snug-fitting gloves, and a hard hat.
  • Scaffolds should meet all safety requirements established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Where electrical work is being done, a lockout/tagout system should always be in place.
  • Extension cords should always have grounding prongs.
  • Multiple plug adapters should never be used at a construction site.
  • Where floor openings exist, a guardrail or appropriate cover should be used at all times.
  • Permanent floor openings should be framed with toeboards.
  • Where surfaces are elevated, post signs indicating a change in surface height.
  • Establish hazard communication protocol.
  • Only properly trained and qualified workers should operate cranes, and hoisting or rigging equipment.

In 2015, a total of 25 construction workers died on NYC construction sites, compared to 17 in 2011. Not surprisingly, undocumented immigrant workers have the greatest risk of serious injury or death on construction sites. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident. Continue reading

Long-term disability (LTD) insurance provides benefits if you are unable to work due to an injury or illness. Generally, LTD benefits are between 50 percent and 80 percent of your normal wages. Group policies can be purchased through an employer and individual policies can be purchased independently. But even the most straightforward LTD plans can be complex, and each one is different. If you are unable to work and considering filing an LTD claim, the following information will help you determine how to move forward.

A skilled Boston LTD lawyer can help you examine your group or individual LTD policy to see what benefits and limitations to expect. For starters, each policy has its own definition of the term “disability,” and your disability may or may not be covered. Further, some disabilities qualify, but with specific limitations. For instance, many insurance companies cap benefits for mental health conditions at 24 months. However, there may be exceptions for chronic and particularly severe conditions, such as schizophrenia.

Own Occupation vs. Any Occupation

Once you’ve determined that your disability is covered by your LTD policy, you must consider whether your policy falls under the category of “own occupation” or “any occupation.” Own occupation refers to an inability to perform the duties of your regular occupation, whereas any occupation refers to an inability to perform the duties of any job. Own occupation is less strict: you will receive benefits if you cannot do your current job, even if you can do another job in its place.

On the other hand, “any occupation” benefits will not be received unless you are unable to perform any job. For instance, if you can no longer deal with the physical strain of a construction job, but you can do a desk job, an any occupation policy would not provide benefits. Many policies switch from own occupation to any occupation after a set time period, typically 24 months.

Waiting Periods and Exclusions

Most policies exclude pre-existing conditions, which means that any medical condition for which you’ve been treated in the past 90 days will not be covered. LTD policies also generally contain something called an “elimination period,” during which you are disabled but no benefits are available. It usually lasts between 90 and 180 days. Short-term disability (STD) benefits are intended to bridge this gap.

As stated above, every LTD policy is different. Some pay benefits until retirement age, others pay for five or 10 years. In almost every circumstance, you will have to file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) before you can receive LTD benefits. SSDI is an income-based program intended to offset your LTD benefits if you qualify.

If your LTD is from a group policy (employer sponsored), you will likely have to pay taxes on any benefits you receive as group policies are usually purchased with pre-tax dollars. If, however, you have an individual plan, you may have purchased it with after-tax dollars, in which case your benefits will be tax free.

What if My Benefits are Denied?

Denials are actually quite common. If your initial application was denied, you can appeal the decision internally, before taking it to federal court. An experienced MA disability attorney can help you appeal a denial so that you may receive the full benefits to which you are entitled. Continue reading

Work injuries rise during summer months for various reasons; long hours outside in the elements, dehydration, and a spike in “riskier” jobs such as road construction, to name a few. The good news is, the majority of these injuries are easily preventable. Read on for more information about the most common summer work injuries and how to avoid them.

Hyperthermia

Most of us have heard of hypothermia, but what about hyperthermia? This condition occurs when the body heats up too quickly and is unable to cool down as efficiently. Left untreated, hyperthermia can lead to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Although spending hours in the hot sun increases your chances of heat stroke, even short periods in direct sunlight can have serious health implications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 7,000 people died of heat-related illnesses in the U.S. between 1999 and 2010. That’s an average of more than 600 deaths annually.

Heat Stroke

If you work in direct sunlight or high temperatures for any period of time, you increase your chances of suffering from heat stroke. Listen to what your body is telling you; if you develop symptoms of a heat-related illness, take immediate action. Get out of the direct sunlight, drink water, and seek medical attention. Symptoms of heat stroke may include:

 

  • Increased body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Coma
  • Death

Dehydration

When the body loses significant amounts of water, dehydration can occur. Excessive sweating is a leading cause of dehydration. The body sweats in an attempt to cool itself; if you sweat out more water than you take in, you risk becoming severely dehydrated. The best way to combat this potential work injury is to avoid working in direct sunlight for extended periods, and to consume plenty of liquids when working outside for any length of time. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Skin Cancer

When most people think of work-related illnesses and injuries, they think of conditions with immediate symptoms. However, some work-related injuries don’t become apparent for weeks, months, or even years. Workers who spend extended periods of time working outside are susceptible to complications from exposure to direct sunlight, including skin cancer. Even severe sun burns can be classified as a work injury. To prevent skin cancer and serious sun burns, wear protective clothing and a hat, work in the shade when possible, use sun block on exposed skin, and try to limit outdoor work hours to before 10 am and after 2 pm.

Construction Accidents

Construction and road work peak during summer months. As such, so do injuries common to these work environments. In summer, motor vehicle accidents involving road workers increase, as do injuries from on-site machinery at construction and road construction sites. A MA work injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Of course, slips, trips, and falls can happen in any season, but they tend to occur more frequently during summer months. This is likely due to an increase in work that involves high places during summer, such as construction, roofing, road construction, painting, and tree climbing. Broken bones, head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries can result from work-related slips, trips, and falls. To prevent serious injury or death, always use fall protection when working at high elevations. Continue reading

More than four million people suffer a work-related injury or illness in the United States annually. Of those injuries, more than two million are severe enough to result in missed work and the need for ongoing medical treatment. For about 1,000 of these workers, injuries are fatal. The good news is, most of these injuries are preventable. Read on for more information about the most commonly-filed workers’ compensation claims, and how to avoid being injured at work.

Leading Work-Related Injuries

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance intended to protect workers, both financially and medically, if they are injured on the job. The on-the-job injuries that result in the most workers’ comp claims include:

  • Slips, trips and falls: Wet floors, icy walkways, and uneven flooring can all cause slips, trips and falls in the workplace. Sometimes falls are just embarrassing…sometimes they are deadly. Falls account for 15 percent of all accidental fatalities, and they are second only to car accidents as a cause of death.
  • Overexertion: Lifting, pulling, or pushing a heavy object can lead to overexertion. If a worker extends a joint beyond its normal range of motion, it can result in immediate pain and a long recovery period. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
  • Struck by an object: These injuries are especially common in occupations that involve mass storage of inventory or supplies. If an employee attempts to reach an item on a high shelf and it falls, the employee may be struck by the item. Such injuries range widely in severity, from minor to fatal.
  • Roadway accidents: Most common among truck drivers, roadway accidents can occur for various reasons, including inclement weather, driver fatigue or distraction, OUI, and other road hazards. On or off the clock, roadway accidents are a leading cause of accidental death in the United States.
  • Repetitive Motion: Construction sites and factories may be inherently dangerous places to work, but even a corporate office can cause debilitating injuries. In fact, repetitive motion injuries from typing and using the computer are among the most common workers’ compensation claims. Injuries such as carpal tunnel and tendonitis can make performing even the most routine office tasks extremely painful.
  • Falls to a lower level: When a worker falls off a roof, ladder, or down a flight of stairs, life-threatening injuries can occur. These injuries are most common in the construction industry, but any person in any occupation can suffer from fall-related injuries. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job.
  • Electrocution: These accidents account for about 1,000 deaths in the United States annually. Faulty wiring, power lines, and malfunctioning appliances are the most common causes of work-related electrocutions. Electricians, construction workers, and utility employees have the highest risk for electrocution accidents.

Report Your Concerns

Work-related injuries and deaths cost about $155.5 billion annually. You can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death by making sure that your work space is clean, safe, and that you have received adequate training. If you feel that your workplace is unsafe, speak with a supervisor. If your supervisor fails to address your concerns, you can always contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The agency assesses work environments to ensure that they follow specific health and safety standards at all times. Continue reading

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