OSHA Reduces Respirable Silica Dust PEL

March 28, 2016

OSHA recently announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust. The rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

"More than 80 years ago, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins identified silica dust as a deadly hazard and called on employers to fully protect workers," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "This rule will save lives. It will enable workers to earn a living without sacrificing their health. It builds upon decades of research and a lengthy stakeholder engagement process—including the consideration of thousands of public comments—to finally give workers the kind of protection they deserve and that Frances Perkins had hoped for them."

OSHA estimates that when the final rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica becomes fully effective, it will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis—an incurable and progressive disease—each year. The agency also estimates the final rule will provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion per year.

"The previous exposure limits were outdated and did not adequately protect workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Limiting exposure to silica dust is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. Today, we are taking action to bring worker protections into the 21st century in ways that are feasible and economical for employers to implement."

About 2.3 million men and women face exposure to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including two million construction workers who drill and cut silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing. Most employers can limit harmful dust exposure by using equipment that is widely available—generally using water to keep dust from getting into the air or a ventilation system to capture dust where it is created.

The final rule will improve worker protection by:

  • Reducing the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift
  • Requiring employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) and work practices to limit worker exposure, provide respiratory protection when controls are not able to limit exposures to the permissible level, limit access to high exposure areas, train workers, and provide medical exams to highly exposed workers
  • Providing greater certainty and ease of compliance to construction employers—including many small employers—by including a table of specified controls they can follow to be in compliance, without having to monitor exposures
  • Staggering compliance dates to ensure employers have sufficient time to meet the requirements, e.g., extra time for the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry to install new engineering controls and for all general industry employers to offer medical surveillance to employees exposed between the PEL and 50 micrograms per cubic meter and the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter

The final rule is written as two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Employers covered by the construction standard have until June 23, 2017 to comply with most requirements. Employers covered by the general industry and maritime standard have until June 23, 2018 to comply with most requirements; additional time is provided to offer medical exams to some workers and for hydraulic fracturing employers to install dust controls to meet the new exposure limit.

New Orleans RCRA and DOT Training

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San Diego RCRA and DOT Training

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How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)

OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, safety data sheet (formerly called “material safety data sheet” or MSDS), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on safety data sheets.

Environmental Resource Center is offering live online training for you to learn how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented. Bring your questions to the upcoming webcast on How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) on April 12.

Draft Recommendations for Handling Silver Nanomaterials Awaiting Public Comments

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently evaluated the available literature on silver and nanosilver to determine if there is sufficient evidence for a size-specific recommended exposure limit (REL). The draft recommendations now are available for public comments until April 22, 2016. After the public comment period, NIOSH will revise the document in response to the public and peer review comments received before publishing the final recommendations.

OSHA Urges Greater Vigilance Toward Safety After 4 Nebraska Workers Die of Job-Related Injuries in March

After four preventable work-related deaths since March 9, 2016, OSHA is urging Husker state employers to carefully review safety and health programs, and their procedures to stem the tragic tide.

While investigators in the agency's Omaha Area Office prepare their findings, the office is also offering compliance assistance, tips and other information to employers and workers on common workplace safety hazards and how to prevent illness and injury.

"Employers and workers alike can prevent job-related injury and death with simple, common sense safety procedures," said Jeff Funke, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "With spring now upon us, construction and other seasonable work will soon be in full swing. Once again, workers will be exposed to some of the most frequently cited OSHA hazards such as falls, struck-by, and trenching—three of the hazards suspected in the most recent fatalities."

OSHA's Omaha office is currently investigating the following workplace deaths:

  • March 9: A 62-year-old worker in Sutherland died after falling more than 38-feet while installing a platform in preparation for work on a grain leg. Falls remain the leading cause of death in the construction industry. OSHA offers a Stop Falls online resource with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards.
  • March 16: A 42-year-old superintendent at Cooperative Producers, Inc., grain handling site in Hayland suffered fatal injuries caused by an operating auger as he drew grain from a bin. OSHA's Grain Handling Industry Local Emphasis Program focuses on the grain and feed industry's six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck by," combustible dust explosions, and electrocution hazards.
  • March 20: A 42-year-old Lincoln resident died after a vehicle struck him at a road construction site on the southwest corner of Highway 94 and County Road 31 in Walthill. He was a temporary worker employed by Labor Ready of Lincoln working as a flagger for the road construction project managed by Brandt Excavation. Struck-by incidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities investigated by OSHA in Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri, with 23 struck-by fatalities occurring in fiscal year 2015. Stuck-by incidents accounted for at least 20% of all fatalities in FY 2014. OSHA has a Regional Emphasis Program, to increase industry outreach and inspections to reduce worker injury and illness rates involving vehicles, and motorized equipment in construction, general industry, and maritime industries.
  • March 21: A trench collapse killed a 61-year-old plumber employed by Clau-Chin Construction, Inc., of Alliance and injured another worker as they installed residential sewer lines in the 2800 block of Toluca Street in Alliance. OSHA's trenching standards require employers to use protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet and keep soil and other materials at least two feet from the edge of trench. Research shows that a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 lbs., about the weight of small automobile. Trenching and excavation are among the most dangerous construction activities, and cave-ins are often lethal to workers crushed or suffocated by thousands of pounds of soil and rock.

So far in 2016, four work-related deaths have been reported in Nebraska. In 2015, 12 workers died on the job in the state.

Additionally, OSHA has also opened 41 investigations since January 1, 2016, 32 incidents were hospitalizations and nine were due to amputations. Last year, 162 severe Nebraska worker injuries were reported to OSHA, 113 of those required hospitalization and 52 involved amputation injuries.

Since January 1, 2015, OSHA requires employers to report any severe work-related injury—defined as a hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye—within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within eight hours remains in force. In the first full year of the program, employers nationwide reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations.

"The prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for us to work with employers to develop safer workplaces," Funke said. "When employers, workers, unions, and safety professionals from OSHA work together we can ensure better working conditions and safety training for all Nebraskans and prevent debilitating injuries, illness, and death that cost our economy and families untold sums."

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Omaha office at 402-553-0171.

Safety Failures at Tecta America Southeast LLC Lead to Worker Fatality

Had their employer inspected an aerial lift properly, it might not have malfunctioned and surged forward, crushing one worker to death and severely injuring another as they removed rain gutters at a local car dealership on September 30, 2015, investigators from OSHA have determined.

Employed by Tecta America Southeast, LLC, Robert Heyman and another man were on the lift working when it suddenly lurched forward and pinned Heyman between its control panel and the edge of the roof. The 35-year-old foreman and father of three was pronounced dead at the scene. His co-worker was able to crawl out of the lift's basket and then fell nearly three stories, suffering multiple fractures in his left leg.

The workers were rehabilitating a Ford dealership on Volusia Avenue in Orange City.

OSHA opened its investigation upon learning of the fatal incident. On March 23, 2016, the agency issued citations to Tecta America Southeast for one repeated and four serious safety violations. Proposed penalties total $63,900.

"Tecta America Southeast could have prevented this tragedy by simply inspecting the lift before allowing its workers to use it," said Brian Sturtecky, director of OSHA's Jacksonville Area Office. "This company must immediately address safety hazards at its work sites and be vigilant in the future to protect its employees from harm."

OSHA issued one repeated citation for not ensuring that workers wore and attached a body belt or lanyard while using an aerial lift.

The serious citations relate to the employer's failure to:

American Design Builders LLC Cited for Lack of Training After Logging Worker’s Tragic Death

Federal investigators found blunt force trauma killed a 46-year-old worker when a tree inadvertently hit him during logging operations on a remote 100-acre Mississippi River levy site in Valmeyer, Illinois.

One of the nation’s most dangerous occupations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 77 recorded deaths in the forestry industry in 2014.

OSHA cited American Design Builders, LLC, on March 10, 2016, for one serious and one other-than-serious safety violations, after it completed its investigation into the September 14, 2015, death.

The agency found the Columbia-based company, failed to train workers in CPR or emergency first aid, as required or provide a written training certification record.

“When a job site has limited access to medical facilities, employers must train workers in emergency first aid and make provisions for prompt emergency treatment if it’s needed,” said Aaron Priddy, OSHA’s area director in Fairview Heights. “Loggers deal with massive weights and the momentum of falling, rolling, and sliding trees and logs exposing them to dangerous hazards on a daily basis. Employers need to plan for all scenarios.”

OSHA has proposed penalties of $2,400.

Five Companies Fail to Notify Employees of Asbestos Hazards, Fines Total $185,150

OSHA has cited five Texas companies for failing to inform construction workers renovating a San Antonio building of the presence of dangerous asbestos, and allowing other hazards. In total, the companies now face $185,150 in fines.

After their inspection, OSHA cited Roscoe Properties, Inc., and One Eighty Construction with one willful violation each for failing to notify employees of the presence, location, and quantity of asbestos. The agency also cited One Eighty Construction for one serious violation for failing to ensure workers properly removed the asbestos tainted materials. OSHA previously cited both companies for willful asbestos-related violations at a second San Antonio apartment complex in November 2015. Jason Berkowitz, a local developer, owns both Roscoe and One Eighty Construction. Roscoe Properties is a commercial real estate management firm with more than 50 properties in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

The site of the inspection, One Eleven Park Avenue, is a multi-family rental property in San Antonio.

OSHA also cited Varco Builders of Texas, LLC, a renovation contractor, for failing to use adequate work practices during asbestos removal and for failure to protect employees from electrical hazards. The building’s owner, One Eleven Park LLC, and flooring contractor Colors Unlimited, also received citations for asbestos related violations at the site.

The agency has proposed the following penalties (links to the citations included):

“Exposure to asbestos can have devastating outcomes, including lung disease and cancer,” said Alejandro Porter, OSHA’s area director in the San Antonio Office. “It’s imperative that employers take action to keep workers from harm by informing and protecting them when asbestos hazards exist in the workplace.”

Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs Exposed Employees to Multiple Hazards

Despite previous warnings from federal safety and health inspectors about hazardous conditions for its employees, OSHA continues to find willful and repeat violations at the Central Arkansas Veterans Health System’s John L. McClellan Veterans Memorial Hospital in Little Rock.

After its most recent inspection, inspectors in OSHA’s Little Rock Area Office issued one willful, two repeat, eight serious, and four other notices on March 22 for unsafe or unhealthful working conditions to the hospital. The September 2015 inspection was part of the Fiscal Year 2015 Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program. The program is a fiscal year based, programmed inspection program focusing on specific federal agency service/operating locations reporting high numbers of lost time cases.

“John L. McClellan Veterans Memorial Hospital willfully and repeatedly exposed its employees to the dangers of electrocution, amputation, blood borne pathogens, and other hazards. That is unacceptable,” said Carlos Reynolds, OSHA’s area director in Little Rock. “If this institution was a private employer, McClellan Veterans Hospital would be facing nearly $200,000 in fines.”

The willful violation included not de-energizing electrical parts and equipment prior to performing work. The repeat violations were cited for failing to ensure written lockout/tagout procedures outlined techniques to control hazardous energy, periodic inspections of the lockout/tagout program were performed and electrical protective equipment was provided and used.

OSHA also cited serious violations for hazards including:

  • Not having a spreader and a non-kickback fingers on a table saw
  • Failing to guard shafts, pulleys, and belts
  • Not making sure oxygen and acetylene cylinders had valve caps
  • Allowing oxygen and acetylene cylinders to be stored together
  • Failing to ensure use of needles with safety devices
  • Failing to ensure contaminated needles were not recapped

Other violations included failing to maintain separate OSHA 300 Logs, failing to ensure that exit access was at least 28 inches wide; not guarding fan blades; and failing to ensure that live parts of electric equipment were guarded.

If accessed, the hospital would have faced $184,700 in penalties, and a 10% increase for having a history of OSHA violations.

Ultratec Special Effects Had Three Explosions in 2015 Amid OSHA Warnings

OSHA issued citations to Ultratec Special Effects, Inc., on March 18 for four repeated, six serious, and five other-than-serious safety violations.

The agency initiated an investigation after learning of two explosions at the pyrotechnic facility on October 1, 2015.

The repeated citations relate to the employer not:

OSHA cited the company for the same violations in 2015 at this location.

The serious citations relate to the employer's failure to:

  • Compile process safety information for the building relief system
  • Develop, document, and utilize specific procedures to prevent machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing
  • Update process safety information to address equipment changes
  • Conduct a pre-start safety review after significant modifications were made to production buildings

Other violations include the employer not preparing an incident report at the conclusion of an investigation, ensuring containers of hazardous chemicals were properly labeled, and failing to provide safety data sheets for all chemicals used in the process.

"Ultratec continues to endanger its employees, as it has not addressed previously identified safety hazards and deficiencies with its process safety management system," said Ramona Morris, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "Fortunately, no one was injured in these incidents, but management must take immediate action to address safety hazards before an employee is seriously injured or killed."

Proposed penalties total $72,688.

D&J Enterprises Inc. Exposed Workers to Trench Cave-ins

OSHA issued citations to D&J Enterprises, Inc., for one willful and one repeated safety violation. The employer is a full-service contracting company. The agency initiated the inspection on January 13, 2016, as part of its National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

OSHA cited D&J Enterprises with a willful violation for allowing employees to work in an excavation, up to 10-feet deep without cave-in protection, while installing new water and sewer lines. The agency requires that all trenches and excavation sites 5-feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle, or by using a protective trench box. The repeated citation was issued for failure to provide employees information and training to recognize and avoid cave-in hazards.

The agency cited D&J previously after an October 2015 inspection found trenching hazards and failed to provide required hazard training to employees. Originally classified as a willful citation, the trenching hazard was changed to a serious citation as part of the agency's settlement with D&J.

Proposed penalties total $64,350.

"It concerns us that, after settling an October 2015 inspection that found dangerous trench hazards, D&J Enterprises continues to put workers at risk of serious injury or death," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "The employer has the responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthful job site."

Kenneth Snider Inc. Fined $59,000 for Amputation, Electrical, and Other Hazards

On March 15, 2016, OSHA issued citations to Kenneth Snider, Inc., of Princeton, West Virginia, for one willful, 24 serious, and two other-than-serious violations.

OSHA opened an investigation on October 21, 2015, in response to a complaint alleging a long list of workplace safety and health hazards at the sawmill. The investigation was also conducted under the agency's national emphasis program for amputations.

While onsite, OSHA inspectors observed employees working within inches of an unguarded saw and cited Kenneth Snider, Inc., with a willful violation. The company was also cited for not having a hearing conservation program for employees exposed to noise above the permissible limit over an eight-hour period and failure to provide hearing protection. Other cited hazards include:

  • No personal protective equipment worn during the operation of a chainsaw
  • No collection system for the removal of combustible saw dust from the work area
  • Electrical hazards
  • The lack of a hazard communication program
  • The lack of an energy control program for employees to use when servicing equipment

Proposed penalties total $59,000.

"It only takes a second for a worker to make contact with a machine that isn't properly guarded and suffer a serious injury that could have been prevented," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Charleston Area Office. "When an employer like Kenneth Snider Inc. allows more than 50 workplace safety violations to exist, it is clear the company is disregarding its obligation to provide workers with a safe and healthy work environment. They will be held accountable for their lack of compliance."

Lineage Logistics LLC Exposed Workers, Community to Anhydrous Ammonia Hazards

OSHA initiated the October 2015 inspection following a report of ammonia release at Lineage Logistics, LLC, a warehousing and logistics company in McAllen, Texas. The agency cited the company for nine serious violations, six for process safety management standards violations, two for not fit testing or providing a medical evaluation of employees before they could wear respirators, and one serious violation was issued for not having a functioning emergency safety eyewash station.

The fines total $58,000

“Employers that fail to follow the minimum requirements of the PSM standards could release hazardous chemicals, exposing workers, endangering the surrounding community and opening themselves to scrutiny from federal law enforcement agencies,” said Travis Clark, OSHA’s Area Director in the Corpus Christi office. “Having the right equipment, procedures and plans in place to prevent hazards in the workplace must be an employer’s top priority.”

Kroger Butcher Lost Fingertip in Unguarded Band Saw

OSHA opened an investigation of the grocer after a 65-year-old employee’s left middle finger tip was amputated by a band saw he was operating to butcher meat.

Inspectors found:

  • Machine guarding on the band saw was not adequate for the product being cut and improperly adjusted
  • The store lacked an energy isolation program that included specific training and inspections

“Employees working with dangerous equipment such as band saws must be properly trained to prevent injuries,” said Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. “Common-sense safety standards to prevent workers from coming in contact with operating machine parts.”

OSHA’s Cincinnati area office cited The Kroger Store for one repeat and one serious safety violation.

Proposed penalties total $45,500.

Vista Window Co. Fined $44,500 After Worker’s Arm Fractured in Machine

OSHA’s Cleveland area office cited Vista Window Company, LLC, of Warren, Ohio, for two repeat, two serious, and one other-than-serious safety violations.

OSHA opened an investigation of the window manufacturer after a 22-year-old employee's right hand was caught in the rollers of a glass press he was cleaning. The worker suffered fractures, nerve and tendon damage.

Inspectors found:

  • Locking devices were not used to prevent workers from coming in contact with moving parts during service and maintenance
  • Machines lacked guarding
  • Injuries were not recorded or reported, as required

"This was a preventable injury had Vista followed common-sense safety standards to prevent workers from coming in contact with operating machine parts," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "Each year, hundreds of manufacturing workers are injured on the job. Employers can do better."

Proposed penalties total $44,500.

J. Walter Miller Co. Exposed Workers to Excessively High Levels of Lead and Cadmium

On March 11, 2016, OSHA issued citations for 11 serious and one other than serious violations to J. Walter Miller Co., of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

On September 9, 2015, OSHA began an investigation in response to a complaint alleging numerous health and safety hazards, including worker exposure to lead at the foundry. OSHA inspectors found the employer exposed employees to lead at seven times the permissible limit, and to elevated levels of airborne cadmium. The employer was cited for violations of both the lead and cadmium standards for General Industry, including deficiencies in written programs, exposure monitoring, engineering controls, respiratory protection, labeling of contaminated clothing, decontamination before entering lunchrooms, medical surveillance, and training. The agency also found employees were exposed to high levels of noise without adequate controls to protect employees.

Proposed penalties total $42,700.

"J. Walter Miller is exposing its employees to hazards that can lead to serious life-altering health conditions. Lead and cadmium have toxic health effects that are widely known. Unsafe levels of lead are toxic to the nervous system, reproductive system, kidneys and other organs. Long-term cadmium exposure can result in kidney damage, or increase the risk of lung or prostate cancer," said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's Harrisburg Area Office. "Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees. OSHA will not tolerate anything less than that."

Alton Industries Inc. Cited for Willfully Exposing Workers to Trench Hazards

On March 22, 2016, OSHA issued citations to Alton Industries, Inc., in Pennsylvania, for one willful and one serious violation.

OSHA opened an inspection on October 29, 2015, under its National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation when an inspector observed a hazardous condition at the worksite. Inspectors found an employee replacing a sewer pipe in an 8-9 foot deep, unprotected excavation in direct view of the site’s foreman. The Pittsburg Area Office issued a willful citation for the violation. The inspection comes five months after the company was cited for the lack of cave-in protection. The same foreman who was present during the previous inspection was onsite and overseeing the work on October 29.

Proposed penalties total $41,580.

“Alton Industries, Inc., continues to put its employees in considerable danger despite previous violations for unsafe and potentially lethal excavation work. This practice will not be tolerated,” said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA’s Pittsburgh Area Office. “Without proper protection, trenching and excavating sites can become deathtraps for workers in the blink of an eye.”

Eight Hoosier Companies Recognized with Workplace Safety Awards

Recently, Commissioner Rick J. Ruble presented the Governor’s Workplace Safety Award to eight Hoosier companies. The companies were honored for their proactive efforts to eliminate and reduce worker exposure to occupational safety and health hazards.

The Governor’s Workplace Safety Awards Luncheon took place at the 2016 Indiana Safety and Health Conference and Expo at the Indiana Convention Center. The annual event is hosted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Central Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers in partnership with the Indiana Department of Labor.

“There is no greater achievement as a business or organization than ensuring all employees go home safely at the end of the workday,” said Commissioner Ruble. “Today, we honor eight Hoosier organizations that have been successful in doing just that through innovation, education and outreach and partnerships,” Ruble added.

Indiana companies were recognized in the following categories: Rising Star, Education and Outreach, Innovations and Partnerships.

The 2016 Governor’s Workplace Safety Award recipients are:

  • XL Industrial Services, Inc., LaPorte—Innovations for a Small-Sized Employer
  • Gribbins Insulation Co., Inc., Evansville—Innovations for a Medium-Sized Employer
  • Lilly Research Laboratories – Health, Safety, & Environmental, Indianapolis—Innovations for a Large-sized Employer
  • Indianapolis Roofers Safety Group, Indianapolis—Partnerships
  • Monsanto, Remington—Education and Outreach in General Industry
  • Solid Platforms, Inc., Portage—Education and Outreach in Construction
  • Kennedy Tank & Mfg. Company, Indianapolis—Rising Star in Construction
  • City of Greenwood, Greenwood—Rising Star in General Industry

“The most rewarding benefit of workplace safety is protecting a company’s most important asset—its workers,” said Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “On top of that, a healthier workplace translates into more productive employees and a more profitable workplace.”

The annual Governor’s Workplace Safety Awards are a result of a partnership among government, business, and safety leaders including the Indiana Department of Labor, on behalf of the Governor, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Central Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

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