Articles Posted in Work Injury

Anyone in any occupation has the potential to get injured at work, but three particular work injuries are most common. If you have suffered one of these injuries, or have been involved in any type of workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation. But, as they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Being familiar with the most common types of injuries, and methods of avoiding them, might be the only prevention you need.

Slips & Falls

Slips and falls are among the most commonly experienced workplace accidents. In fact, injuries from slips and falls account for about 95 million missed work days each year. These accidents frequently occur on wet, dirty or uneven floors, or when a worker trips on something left on the floor. The consequences of slip and fall accidents can be severe: back injuries, head injuries, broken bones, and cuts and bruises…just to name a few. To avoid slips and falls:

  • Make sure your work area has adequate lighting so that you can spot hazards.
  • Wear proper shoes. Shoes with non slippery, thick heels and tightly tied laces are best for preventing slips and falls.
  • Watch for hazardous weather conditions, like rain, snow or wet leaves tracked on the floor. Make sure someone is assigned to check and remedy the condition of floors at regular intervals.
  • Use moisture absorbent mats in times of bad weather and make sure coworkers clean up spills immediately.
  • Look for warning signs.
  • Keep hallways free of clutter and avoid the use of electrical cords across common walk spaces.

Machine Injuries

If you work in construction or at a plant or factory, you are at special risk for a machine injury. These injuries often occur when fingers, limbs, hair, jewelry or clothing becomes entangled in a machine. To avoid machine injuries:

  • Do not work on a machine without proper machine guards.
  • Always wear required safety equipment.
  • Never interfere with a moving machine; always shut it down first.
  • Avoid operating machines for which you have not had proper training.
  • Make sure all loose clothing and accessories are secured.
  • Secure long hair behind your head and off your shoulders.
  • Inspect machines regularly to make sure they are working properly.

A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Lifting Injuries

Most jobs involve some type of lifting. Improper lifting can lead to serious injuries, including damage to vertebrae, pulled, strained or torn muscles, nerve damage, and joint damage. These types of injuries are most common in construction, with almost 100,000 employees suffering lifting-related injuries each year. To avoid becoming one of them:

  • Be cognizant of your strength and fitness, and avoid lifting things that are too heavy. Ask for assistance when needed.
  • Never lift with your back! We often hear this advice, but the reasons aren’t always clear. Back muscles are much less powerful and strong than leg muscles. For this reason, heavy weight should be borne by the leg muscles instead. To do this, keep your back straight and your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and lift at the same time that you extend your knees straight.
  • Never twist or bend the back while holding or moving heavy objects; keep heavy loads close to the body between your knees and shoulders
  • Take frequent breaks when lifting or moving heavy objects.
  • Use mechanical aids such as conveyors, slides, chutes, hoists, adjustable lift tables, and hand trucks to help you with a heavy lift.

A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident. Continue reading

Each year in the United States, thousands of workers are killed and millions suffer non-fatal injuries. Among those injured, more than three million subsequently develop chronic medical conditions as a result. It’s common knowledge that certain industries—such as construction and logging—rank at the top of the “dangerous jobs” list, but no occupation is immune. In fact, some of the most common injuries—such as carpal tunnel syndrome and back problems—occur in office jobs. The data below, collected by the nation’s leading insurance companies, has revealed the top most commonly-reported work injuries and their causes.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Continuously engaging in the same motions day in and day out over the course of several months or years can lead to injuries. Common repetitive motion injuries include eye problems, strained muscles, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. To prevent these injuries, employees should receive adequate training on proper postures and should be provided with ergonomic equipment to reduce the incidence of injuries.

Entanglement

Factory workers often use heavy machinery to perform their jobs. When fingers, hair, or clothing become entangled in these machines, the worker can be pulled into the machine and become entangled. These injuries often result in the loss of one or more fingers or toes. They can also be deadly. To prevent machine entanglement injuries, protective equipment and training are essential, as are lockout/tagout mechanisms to prevent machines from starting unexpectedly.

Falls from Heights

Anytime someone is working from an elevated area—including roofs, ladders, and scaffolding—there is the potential for a deadly fall. Although falls from heights can occur in any industry, they are most common in construction. In addition to faulty equipment and lack of training and personal protection gear, falls from heights can also be caused due to slippery surfaces. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

Reaction Injuries

Typically caused when someone slips and trips but does not fall, reaction injuries can result in trauma to various parts of the body. Preventing these types of incidents can be difficult, but ensuring that walkways are kept dry and clutter-free goes a long way toward reducing the prevalence of reaction injuries. This is another area in which employee training and awareness are of paramount importance.

Slip and Fall Injuries

The number two cause of work-related injuries is slip and fall accidents. In fact, slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of accidental death and injury overall, not just in the workplace. To prevent slip and fall injuries, ensure that spills are promptly cleaned up, and keep walkways well-lit and free of clutter and debris.

Overexertion Injuries

The number one workplace injury is also the most costly. Overexertion injuries include those related to lifting, holding, pushing, pulling, and carrying. A MA work injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

Considering that firefighters are 14 percent more likely to die from cancer than the rest of the population, Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to deem cancer a work related injury for firefighters makes perfect sense. This new legislation will provide coverage for lost wages and all medical expenses for firefighters who develop cancer.

“Cancer is a very real hazard of the job, and we want to make sure we’re doing what we need to do to help those who serve,” said Baker.

According to Edward Kelly, the general secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Firefighters, prior to the new law, firefighters had little choice but to use their sick and personal days to take time off for cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. A MA workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured or become ill on the job.

“As firefighters, we accept the sacrifice of our job as part of our calling,” said Kelly. “But when we get diagnosed with cancer, and we run out of sick leave and we go off the payroll and we lose our health care, that is just wrong.”

Dozens of MA families who have been impacted by firefighting-related cancer diagnoses were interviewed by lawmakers in an effort to get this law passed. Richard MacKinnon, president of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, was particularly moved by the story of Anthony Colarusso, a Plymouth firefighter who died at the age of 39 from esophageal cancer. At the time of Colarusso’s death, he had lost his health insurance and hadn’t received a paycheck in more than three months.

“When this first happened, [Anthony] said he never wanted to see another firefighter go through what he went through,” said Colarusso’s mother. “I know now Tony’s up there and he’s celebrating.”

Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate

Female firefighters are just as at risk of developing work-related cancers as their male counterparts. As such, a provision of the new law includes reproductive and breast cancers.

“We realized that cancer knows no gender and we needed to have the same benefits for our increasing number of female firefighters across the state,” said MacKinnon. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve been harmed due to a work-related hazard.

Since 2016, more than 300 firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer. Among them, 107 were able to return to work, 99 had to retire due to their illness, and 29 succumbed to the disease.

Work-Related Cancers

In most industries, linking cancer to work environment is difficult. That is not, however, the case with firefighting. Another common work-related cancer, mesothelioma, is also easy to trace to work environment. Long-term exposure to asbestos fibers, which were used in building installation for decades, is proven to cause mesothelioma. In fact, hundreds of people who haven’t worked around asbestos-laden insulation for three or more decades are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. As a result, mesothelioma has long been a covered illness under workers’ comp. Fortunately, firefighters who develop cancer now have a similar ability to recover compensation for their injuries. Continue reading

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), lifting heavy objects is a top cause of workplace injuries in the United States. In fact, more than one-third of injuries resulting in lost work days involve a back or shoulder injury due to heavy lifting. The most common factors cited in back injuries are overexertion and cumulative trauma.

Fortunately, by following smart lifting practices at all times, you can dramatically reduce your risk of injury, including back sprains and strains, pulled muscles, wrist and elbow injuries, and injuries to the neck, shoulders, and spine. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

How to Reduce/Eliminate Common Hazards

Anytime you must lift an object or load heavier than 50 pounds, you are at an increased risk of back injury. Certain loads, such as bundles of wire or conduit, and heavy machinery, place an unsafe amount of stress on the vertebrae and muscles of the back. To reduce or eliminate these hazards, consider the following solutions:

  • Always use pallet jacks and hand trucks to move heavy objects or loads.
  • Never roll spools. They are nearly impossible to stop once in motion.
  • Use forklifts or other mechanical lifting methods whenever possible to lift heavy objects, such as transformers, conduit, and machinery.
  • Use suction tools to lift heavy objects with flat surfaces.
  • When lifting equipment into trucks, use lift gates or ramps.
  • If you must manually lift an item, always use smart lifting practices. Place the object level with your “power zone” (between mid-thigh and mid-chest) prior to lifting. Keep your spine straight and bend at the knees.
  • If possible, request that suppliers break down loads into smaller quantities (off-site) prior to delivery.
  • Try to limit manual lifting weight to 50 pounds or less. When heavier loads must be lifted manually, request the help of at least one additional worker. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a workplace lifting accident.

Avoid Improper or Awkward Postures

Bending and reaching while lifting also increases the weight of the load on your back. As a result, the stress on the muscles, shoulders, and lower spine can lead to serious injury. This is even true of lighter objects. Other awkward postures, such as carrying a load unevenly on one shoulder or under one arm, can also lead to injury. To avoid injuries from awkward or improper postures, follow the tips below:

  • Hold objects close to your body when lifting.
  • Use your leg muscles to help lift an object from a low level.
  • Store objects that require manual lifting at “power zone” level.
  • Never twist your torso while lifting. Move your feet instead.

Continue reading

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

If you are hurt on the job, you will likely be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In exchange for accepting these benefits, you agree to not bring a lawsuit against your employer for any injuries suffered. Workers’ comp covers most work-related injuries, but there are certain rules you must follow to obtain benefits, and even a simple mistake can delay or reduce the benefits to which you are entitled.

If I am injured on the job, what’s the first thing I should do?

Following a work-related injury or illness, you should take the steps below:

  • Immediately report your injury or illness to a supervisor;
  • Ask to see a physician;
  • Request and fill out a workers’ comp form.

Remember, your employer is under no legal obligation to provide workers’ comp benefits until you have reported your injury and completed a claim form. Don’t wait until your condition is so bad that you can no longer perform the duties of your job. A Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured at work.

What Benefits Does Workers’ Comp Provide?

Although benefits can vary from case to case, the four basic benefits that a recipient of workers’ comp can expect to receive are as follows:

  • Medical care: Any treatment that is reasonably necessary for your injury should be covered by the insurance company that provides workers’ comp insurance to your employer;
  • Benefit payments: You should receive a percentage of your wages while you are unable to work;
  • Settlement for permanent disability: If you are permanently unable to return to work, you may be entitled to compensation based on the severity of your disability;
  • Vocational rehab: If you are unable to return to your old occupation but you can perform the duties of another occupation, you may be entitled to paid training.

Can My Employer Fire Me While I’m Receiving Workers’ Comp Benefits?

If you are receiving workers’ comp due to a temporary disability, your employer may not terminate you. If, however, medical evidence shows that you will be unable to return to your job, there may be an exception to this rule. If your disability will keep you from your occupation for an extended period, and this absence places an undue burden on your employer, a temporary worker may be used to replace you until your return. A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured on the job.

Commonly Overlooked Work Injuries

If you have one of the injuries below, you may be suffering from a work injury without even knowing it.

  • Heart problems: Even if a heart attack or other heart problem occurs away from the workplace, it could be work-related.
  • Lung problems: Breathing problems and other conditions involving the lungs can be caused by long-term exposure to industrial chemicals and materials.
  • Hearing loss: If your workplace exposes you to loud noises on a regular basis, this can cause hearing loss, even if you wear hearing protection.
  • Back problems and hernias: If you regularly lift or move even moderately heavy objects, this can lead to serious back pain and hernias.
  • Eye injuries: Eye strain from staring at a computer screen all day, and airborne irritants in industrial occupations can both cause serious injuries to the eyes.
  • Hand injuries: If your job involves repetitive motions of the hands and wrists, you may wind up with severe wrist pain and injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Desk jobs are notorious for these injuries.

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Repetitive stress injuries—including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis—are extremely common, can be debilitating, and are often sustained on the job. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 100 types of repetitive stress injuries may occur in the workplace. In order to obtain workers’ compensation for such an injury, however, you must be able to show that your job caused your injury.

Common Causes of Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace

If any of the situations below apply to you, there is a good chance that your repetitive stress injury was sustained in the workplace. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.

  • You spend most of your day working on a computer. Sitting at a computer for hours a day may sound like an unlikely way to get injured, but it’s actually one of the most common. Performing the same movements over and over again throughout the day is the most direct route to a repetitive stress injury. Small movements that may seem benign—such as clicking your mouse, or typing and holding a desk phone between your ear and shoulder—can lead to painful, chronic conditions, many of which can make even simple tasks impossible.
  • You work in construction. Any time you perform repetitive movements for weeks or months in a row, you can develop a repetitive stress injury. Tasks like swinging a hammer, digging or running a jackhammer can result in damage to tendons, joints and muscles. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
  • You stand all day or sit all day. The human body is not intended to be in the same position all day. Studies have proven that excessive sitting can cause back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as other health problems…it can even shave years off your life! Excessive standing can also wreak havoc on your body. Hips, knees and back are especially vulnerable to these problems.
  • You work in retail. Cashiers and others who work in retail often stand for long periods. As stated above, this alone can lead to health problems. However, retail cashiers are particularly prone to repetitive stress injuries because of the limited but continuous motions they must make all day. Watch the cashier the next time you’re standing in line. Throughout a single shift, a cashier may have to turn, grab, lift, swipe, type and pull thousands of times.

Examples of Repetitive Stress Injuries

These injuries are among the most commonly reported causes of lost work time. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that repetitive stress injuries accounted for about 33 percent of all work injuries in 2013. The most common include:

  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Low back injuries
  • Muscle strains

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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

In hazard-prone work environments, such as manufacturing plants, it’s not uncommon for minor safety protocols to get overlooked in favor of more serious concerns. For example, while wearing a hard hat to protect against head injuries may be a non-negotiable, employees often  forego wearing cut-resistant gloves; it’s not like hand lacerations are life threatening. But even minor injuries, such as hand lacerations, can lead to bigger problems.

For starters, a worker is likely to become immediately distracted when a hand injury occurs. If she is working with complex machinery at the time, the distraction could be deadly. In some cases, the distraction can snowball into an incident involving multiple workers. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.

The Real Cost of Minor Injuries

The hand laceration itself, although not life threatening, can still be devastating to a worker’s ability to perform necessary job duties. More than one million U.S. workers seek emergency medical treatment for lacerations annually. Just about every job requires the use of the worker’s hands. As such, hand lacerations can lead to time off work and lost wages for the worker, as well as insurance claims, increased premiums and employee-replacement costs for the employer. The average cost to a company for an employee who suffers a single laceration is $41,000.

Follow the steps below to dramatically reduce your risk of injury or death in the workplace.

  • Don’t overlook the “less serious” safety precautions; non-slip soles and cut-resistant gloves are just as important as personal fall protection equipment, for example.
  • Don’t engage in a hazardous work task when you are fatigued, distracted or stressed.
  • Take breaks at regular intervals throughout the day to prevent fatigue. In addition to resting during these breaks, drink some water and consider doing jumping jacks or some other energizing activity.
  • Your employer should perform regular inspections and maintenance of all equipment. If you are concerned that this isn’t being done properly, speak to a supervisor. If your concerns are not adequately addressed, you can always contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency tasked with establishing – and enforcing – workplace safety guidelines.
  • Your employer should also provide regular employee training, and established safety policies should be clearly stated, up to date and easy to locate. Posters, safety drills and the distribution of regular emails are effective ways of reminding employees of safety policies and the importance of following them.

Employees who don’t follow established safety policies should face tough consequences. When a worker’s noncompliance is allowed to continue, other workers will soon follow suit. Companies with zero-tolerance policies for safety violations have lower rates of worker injury and death. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading

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