Friday, October 12, 2018

Time To Remind Staff About Holiday Decoration Safety Rules

Workplace Holiday Season Safety
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years and other holidays inspire staff members to set up decorations. These initiatives are often done with good intentions, meant to bring a touch of cheer or team festivity to a sometimes sterile healthcare office environment, but you will bear the blame if any decorations result in fire or occupational safety hazards.

Decorating the workplace can result in falls and dangerous tripping hazards. Avoid placing trees, gifts, Halloween decor (particularly dangerous or flammable cob web, steamers and banners) or other freestanding decorations in busy areas where people might run into them or trip over them. Always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places safely, not chairs or other unstable furniture. Before using a ladder, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and do not exceed recommended usage limits. Potential trips over cords or decorations, slips and falls are workers’ compensation claims waiting to happen.

It's also essential to make sure that your holiday decor does not block exits, cover exit signage, or block access to fire safety equipment. Do not place any type of decorative items in exit corridors or hang decorations from or covering fire sprinklers.

General Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Decorations
Holiday decorations should create higher morale at the workplace, not hazards and potential for accidents and injuries, so take proper precautions. Choose artificial greenery made of fire retardant materials for office decorating. All decorations (including trees, wreaths, curtains/drapes, hangings, etc.) should be either noncombustible (not all artificial trees are), inherently flame retardant (the label will say so), or have been treated with a flame retardant solution.


  • Consider an artificial tree, which poses less risk than a live one.
  • Make sure live tree has water at all times so as not to dry out & become a fire hazard.
  • Live trees can be safer when sprayed with flame retardant.
  • Live trees should be in a location that does not interfere with foot traffic. Do not allow blockage of your escape route--doorways, exits, or pathways.
  • Live trees do not belong near heat sources (vents, flames, space heaters, etc.) where they can dry out.
  • Keep in mind trees can be top heavy, so use a sturdy stand. Consider safely using support from thin guy wires attached to walls or ceilings, to keep them from falling over and injuring someone.

Electric Lights

  • Before plugging in electrical decorations, carefully check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed, loose or bare wires, or loose connections. Damaged sets may cause a serious electric shock or start a fire; if damaged, discard - do not attempt to repair. Always unplug a light string or electrical decoration before replacing light bulbs or fuses.
  • Don't overload extension cords, which could overheat and start a fire. Extension cords have different ratings so be sure to check before plugging in multiple light string sets.
  • Never tack or staple an extension cord to the wall or woodwork--it could damage the cord and create a fire hazard. Make sure cords do not dangle from counters and table tops where they can be pulled or tripped over.
  • If an extension cord is used in a busy area or crosses a walkway, secure with duct tape or cover with mats or carpet.
  • Consider using miniature lights with cool-burning bulbs. Use only lights that have been tested for safety, identified by a label from an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Use indoor lights only indoors and outside lights outdoors.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, building, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage. Don't mount or support light strings in any way that might damage the cord's wire insulation.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted. To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it.
  • Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you leave the workplace. Lights could short and start a fire.

Trimmings/Other Decorations

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials. Choose tinsel, artificial icicles, plastic or non-leaded metals.
  • Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass "angel hair," which can irritate eyes and skin. A common substitute is non-flammable cotton. Both angel hair and cotton snow are flame retardant when used alone. However, if artificial snow is sprayed onto them, the dried combination will burn rapidly.
  • When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions carefully. These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.
  • Never place trimmings near open flames or electrical connections.


  • Contribute to 10,000 fires per year. They are generally not safe to use in the workplace.
  • Never use candles to decorate trees; keep away from flammable materials, such as boughs or wreaths, other decorations or wrapping paper, and curtains/drapes.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended, and extinguish before leaving the workplace.


  • Preparation for holiday parties: Decorate only with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. If guests will be smoking, provide them with ashtrays and check them frequently. After the party, check around furniture and in trashcans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
  • Holiday food preparation: Thoroughly cook and serve foods at proper temperatures.  Refrigerate cooked leftovers within 2 hours at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or below. More information can be found at
To summarize, using the list below should help keep you on the plus side of OSHA, your local fire authority and provide your staff a safe work environment during the holidays.
        NO decorative electrical lights of any kind in the patient vicinity (i.e., any room where a patient receives care).
        NO decorations that create a trip hazard (e.g. electrical cords or extension cords across halls or walkways).
        NO natural cut or once-live evergreen trees or garlands.
        NO artificial Christmas trees unless labeled or otherwise identified or certified as “flame retardant” or “flame resistant.”
        NO decorations that obstruct exits.
        NO combustible decorations. All decorations must be flame retardant and labeled as such. These decorations should always be kept away from ignition sources (e.g., light fixtures, electrical receptacles, etc.).
        NO decorations that are explosive or highly flammable (e.g., decorative crepe paper or pyroxylin plastic decorations).
        NO decorations that impair the visibility of an exit sign or portable fire extinguisher.
        NO decorations that impair the proper operation or the fire sprinkler system. Do not attach anything to sprinkler heads.
        NO decorations attached to painted surfaces with tape or staples. Hanging decorations from a ceiling grid is preferable.
        NO wall decorations in excess of 10% of the wall surface area.
Also consider declaring a date on which all holiday decorations must be taken down, which can help to eliminate any lingering compliance problems. Many facilities set the date of January 3 to conclude all holiday decorating activities.

Be safe and  enjoy the holiday season from HCSI!


Source(s):, http://www.foodsafety.gov,

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Reminder: OSHA Form 300A Electronic Submission Deadline July 1, 2018

OSHA Form 300A Electronic Submission Deadline Is 
July 1, 2018

 OSHA Reporting Rule

Be aware that this rule applies to certain healthcare organizations.  Please check with the OSHA list to see if it applies to your organization.

OSHA’s new rule for improving the tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses through the electronic submission of form 300A, which took effect January 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website. OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry.  If this rule applies to your office make sure to submit your form 300A information online before July 1st 2018.

For more information please see:


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Keeping Your Valuable Talent From Leaving

With low unemployment and a growing economy, how do you keep the talent in your office from leaving your organization and finding greener pastures elsewhere?

Employees are an investment, plain and simple! Here are some of the ways an employee cost an organization money:

·         Recruiting the employee
·         Hiring the employee
·         On-boarding the employee
·         Paid time off (vacation, sick, etc.)
·         Compensation (wage, benefits, bonuses, etc.)
·         Turnover

When the country was going through a tough economy, the above list would be enough to keep most employees. However, things have changed. With low unemployment, the competition for talented and skilled employees is heating up! Employers are beginning to feel the pain in the quality and quantity of productivity as their talented and skilled employees are lured away by another organization who is offering some enticements are that too hard to pass up.

What can your organization do to keep from losing your valuable talent? Here is a list of the four main ways to keep your talent from leaving:

  1. Increase Wage – Employees are not volunteers! This is important to keep in mind when considering a wage increase for an employee. This is one of the main ways your competition is able to lure amazing talent to their organization. Stay ahead of your competition and pay an employee based on the worth they are to your organization. In addition, increasing an employee’s wage demonstrates your commitment to them and an appreciation for the work they do.
  2. Improved Management – This is the number one reason an employee leaves their current employer. Poor management will de-motivate an employee and make their work environment terrible to be a part of. Improve the skill level of your current managers or replace them with leaders who know how to build and strengthen a working relationship with your employees.
  3. Better Benefits – Investing in a better healthcare plan, offering a more flexible schedule option, and other such ideas are ways to entice employees to stay with your organization.
  4. Employee Development – One of the determining factors for employees to look for employment at another organization is the lack of professional development at their current job. Good employees want to learn new skills and develop weaker ones so that they can be more effective in their job. They also feel that developing their skills gives them an increased chance at a future promotion. When organizations do not take time to develop their employees, they are at great risk of losing their hard working employees who care about their job and the organization while only keeping the employees who are mediocre and don’t really care about much anyway.

Hiring a good employee is only the first step. In order to keep that good employee a part of your organization, it is important to invest time and resources . . . continuously. Having lesser talent within your organization will save money, but you will notice a drop in productivity, morale, and cohesiveness. As this occurs, more and more of your valuable talent will leave. You will eventually notice a big difference within your organization . . . and your customers will as well.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Representatives Seek OSHA Standard on Healthcare Workplace Violence

Lawmakers Seek OSHA Standard on Workplace Violence Prevention in Healthcare

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and 12 other House Democrats have introduced legislation intended to curb workplace violence in health care facilities.
 Healthcare Compliance Solutions. Inc.
The Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act, introduced March 8, would mandate that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develop a national standard on workplace violence prevention that would require health care facilities to develop and implement facility and unit-specific workplace violence prevention plans.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, at least 58 hospital workers died as a result of workplace violence between 2011 and 2016. In 2016, the Government Accountability Office found that health care workers were five to 12 times more likely to encounter nonfatal workplace violence than all other workers.
The legislation follows regulation enacted in 2014 in California, which went into effect in 2017, directing Cal/OSHA to craft a workplace violence prevention standard. The law requires all covered health care employers in California to develop and issue – by April 1 – plans to prevent workplace violence and ensure the safety of patients and workers.
The bill introduced by Khanna is similar: Workplaces would create and implement comprehensive violence prevention plans with input from doctors, nurses and custodial workers. The bill stresses prevention, training and worker participation. It defines workplace violence broadly to include not only physical acts of violence, but threats of violence. It emphasizes staffing as a crucial ingredient in preventing violence from occurring and responding quickly when it does.
“Health care workers, doctors and nurses are continuously at risk of workplace violence incidents – strangling, punching, kicking and other physical attacks – that can cause severe injury or death,” Khanna said in a March 8 press release. “This is simply unacceptable. The Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act puts a comprehensive plan in place and is a national solution to this widespread problem modeled after the success seen in California.”  

See the Cal/OSHA regulation for details of the standard and what might be expected in the adoption of a National OSHA regulation.
National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest union of registered nurses, applauded the bill.
“Right now, health care facilities are not doing enough to prevent these violent incidents,” NNU Co-President Deborah Burger said in a press release. “Under the proposed federal standard, facilities would need to assess and correct for environmental risk factors, patient specific risk factors, staffing and security system sufficiency.”
“There are a number of interventions that can reduce violence in healthcare. For example, affixing furniture and lighting so they can’t be used as weapons, maintaining clear lines of sight between workers while they are caring for patients, and providing easy access to panic buttons or phones to call for help,” Burger explained. “It is imperative that nurses, doctors, and other health care workers, along with security staff and custodial personnel, are all involved in the development and implementation of these plans.”

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

100 in 10 Campaign

Healthcare Compliance Solutions, Inc. (HCSI)
has launched the “100 in 10” campaign.

What is the “100 in 10” Campaign?

The Healthcare Compliance Solutions Inc. “100 in 10” campaign was designed to encourage healthcare organizations to complete 100% of their new employees’ compliance training within their first 10 days.

100% Completion

First 10 Days

Why is it Necessary?

When a new employee is hired, outside of Medicare (within first 45 days), there is not a set time period for training the new hires on compliance regulations. With new hires, healthcare organizations will train their new employees on the different workings of the organization, the daily tasks the employee will perform, and other training's that are vital to the new employee’s ability to perform the job they have been hired to do. However, many organizations will postpone providing compliance training until it is convenient for them do conduct the training.

During this time, the employee continues to do his or her job while being ignorant on compliance regulations, office polices, and potential liabilities for the organization. All the while:
  • They have been exposed to various forms of protected health information (PHI) without being trained on HIPAA regulations
  • They have been moving around the office without knowledge of the safety protocols due to not being trained on OSHA regulations.
  • They have been interacting with other co-workers before the new employee understands what is and what is not acceptable behavior within the organization because they have not been properly trained on HR Policies/Procedures.
  • They do billing or other activities involving Medicare without being trained on Fraud, Waste, and Abuse.
All of this activity by the new employee is a major liability and puts the organization at unnecessary risk.


With more than 30 years of experience, it is the professional recommendation of HCSI that all new employees complete 100% of the compliance training within their first 10 days.

100% in 10 days is a goal that all healthcare professionals can achieve.

Make sure all of your new employees are 100 in 10!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

HIPAA Breach Reporting Annual Deadline - March 1, 2018

HIPAA covered entities and their business associates are required provide notification following a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI).

Healthcare Compliance Solutions Inc.
The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule (45 CFR §§ 164.400-414) requires HIPAA covered entities and their business associates to provide notification following a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI). The notice must be sent to the involved individuals as soon as reasonably possible but no later than 60 days after discovery of the breach. (45 CFR § 164.404).

Do I need to report it?

The timing of notice to HHS depends on the number of persons affected by the breach. If the breach involves 500 or more persons, the covered entity must notify HHS at the same time it notifies the individuals and it must also be reported to the media. If the breach involves less than 500 persons, the covered entity must report the breach to HHS no later than 60 days after the end of the calendar year in which the breach(s) were discovered (i.e. March 1, 2018 for breaches that occurred during 2017).

A breach is, generally, an impermissible use or disclosure under the Privacy Rule that compromises the security or privacy of the protected health information. An impermissible use or disclosure of protected health information is presumed to be a breach unless the covered entity or business associate, as applicable, demonstrates that there is a low probability that the protected health information has been compromised based on a risk assessment of at least the following factors:
  1. The nature and extent of the protected health information involved, including the types of identifiers and the likelihood of re-identification;
  2. The unauthorized person who used the protected health information or to whom the disclosure was made;
  3. Whether the protected health information was actually acquired or viewed; and
  4. The extent to which the risk to the protected health information has been mitigated.
Covered entities and business associates, where applicable, have discretion to provide the required breach notifications following an impermissible use or disclosure without performing a risk assessment to determine the probability that the protected health information has been compromised.

There are three exceptions to the definition of “breach.”
  1. The first exception applies to the unintentional acquisition, access, or use of protected health information by a workforce member or person acting under the authority of a covered entity or business associate, if such acquisition, access, or use was made in good faith and within the scope of authority.
  2. The second exception applies to the inadvertent disclosure of protected health information by a person authorized to access protected health information at a covered entity or business associate to another person authorized to access protected health information at the covered entity or business associate, or organized health care arrangement in which the covered entity participates. In both cases, the information cannot be further used or disclosed in a manner not permitted by the Privacy Rule.
  3. The final exception applies if the covered entity or business associate has a good faith belief that the unauthorized person to whom the impermissible disclosure was made would not have been able to retain the information.
Documentation. A covered entity is required to maintain documentation concerning its breach analysis and/or reporting for six years. (45 CFR §§ 164.414 and 164.530(j)).

Accounting Logs. Whether or not the breach is reportable to the individual or HHS, covered entities and business associates are still required to record impermissible disclosures in their accounting of disclosure log(s) as required by 45 CFR § 164.528. The log must record the date of the disclosure; name and address of the entity who received the PHI; a brief description of the PHI disclosed; and a brief statement of the reason for the disclosure. (45 CFR § 164.528(b)). If requested, the covered entity must disclose the log to the individual or the individual’s personal representative within 60 days. (Id. at 164.528(c)).

Avoid Reports by Avoiding Breaches. Of course, it is better to avoid a breach rather than respond to one. To that end, covered entities and business associates should ensure that they practice preventive medicine by, among other things, encrypting PHI when possible and implementing other required policies and administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect PHI. They should train and regularly remind workforce members concerning HIPAA obligations, periodically monitor compliance, and respond promptly to correct weaknesses.

Submitting a Notice of Breach to the HHS Secretary:

If you have any questions, you may call HHS OCR toll-free at: 1-800-368-1019, TDD: 1-800-537-7697 or send an email to

Important Note: Remember that while it may be relatively unlikely that not reporting small breaches will automatically invite an HHS investigation, if a non-reported breach or a trend of violations IS discovered, this could lead to a judgment of "Willful-Neglect", magnifying penalties and fines dramatically

Healthcare Compliance Solutions Inc.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Dragons of Healthcare Workplace Safety: HCS, SDS and GHS

Understanding The Hazardous Communication Standard, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and how to properly implement them to insure workplace safety and comply with OSHA.
 HCSI OSHA Training

We at HCSI train healthcare professionals and their staff members on the Federal OSHA requirements for medical providers. Even though our training covers all required areas such and The Hazard Communication Standard, Safety Data Sheets, GHS labeling rules, etc., we occasionally get a frantic call from a confused practice manager or compliance officer after a friendly visit by an OSHA inspector.  Even though they were trained on these subjects, they invariably did not take the time to implement the training and translate it into the preparation of their site specific required safety and regulatory documentation. Once again, the classic saying, perhaps older then the dragons of ancient lore, rears it's ugly head... "If it wasn't documented, it never happened."
All hazardous chemicals found in the workplace/practice must be identified and a Master List must be compiled containing the names of products, their manufacturers and their chemical components. This Master List can be compiled from information gained from a list of OSHA regulated substances such as the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) [previously called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) which are now obsolete and superseded by the GHS Global Harmonized Standard implemented in 2013 replacing MSDSs with SDSs] are forms generally provided by chemical manufacturers that convey hazard-related information on chemicals and hazardous substances you use in your workplace.  It is important that employees know how to interpret the information found on each SDS, which describes the chemical composition, health and physical hazards and safe handling and emergency procedures for all products containing hazardous substances. 

In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that SDSs be readily available to all employees for potentially harmful substances handled in the workplace under the Hazard Communication regulation. The SDSs are also required to be made available to local fire departments and local and state emergency planning officials under Section 311 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The American Chemical Society defines Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Numbers (CAS numbers) which provide a unique number for each chemical and are also used internationally in SDSs.

In 2012, the US adopted the 16 section Safety Data Sheet to replace Material Safety Data Sheets. This became effective on December 1, 2013. These new Safety Data Sheets comply with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). By June 1, 2015, employers were required to have their workplace labeling and hazard communication programs updated as necessary – including all MSDSs replaced with SDS-formatted documents.

Many companies offer the service of collecting, or writing and revising, data sheets to ensure they are up to date and available for their subscribers or users. Some jurisdictions impose an explicit duty of care that each SDS be regularly updated, usually every three to five years. However, when new information becomes available, the SDS must be revised without delay.

Hazard Communication Standard

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. This update will also help reduce trade barriers and result in productivity improvements for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals while providing cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the hazard communication standard.

In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable/(i.e. training provided) to workers. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:

  • Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
  • All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately. 
Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard 
  • Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and training: Employers are required to train workers on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.
GHS Pictograms

As of June 1, 2015, the HCS requires that new SDSs to be in a uniform format, and include the section numbers, the headings, and associated information under the headings below:

Section 1, Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
Section 2, Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
Section 3, Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
Section 4, First-aid measures includes important symptoms/effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
Section 5, Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
Section 6, Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
Section 7, Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
Section 8, Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); ACGIH Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer preparing the SDS where available as well as appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
Section 9, Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical's characteristics.
Section 10, Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
Section 11, Toxicological information includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
Section 12, Ecological information*
Section 13, Disposal considerations*
Section 14, Transport information*
Section 15, Regulatory information*
Section 16, Other information, includes the date of preparation or last revision.
*Note: Since other Agencies regulate this information, OSHA will not be enforcing Sections 12 through 15 (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)).
Employers, please remember to periodically review and update your hazardous substance/chemicals Master List and ensure your SDSs reflect those changes and are readily accessible, readable and also understandable to your employees as well as any fire department personnel, inspectors and/or government officials. Annual OSHA training is also required to ensure your staff is educated, aware and updated on these and other vital workplace safety issues.

Protecting your employees, patients and your office's regulatory reputation is an ongoing process requiring diligence and oversight. You can not simply take an apprentice course in the basics of fending off dragons in the hopes of never encountering one of the dreaded beasts. The knighthood of compliance (OSHA or otherwise) requires the quest of discovering your office's site specific situations, knowing your procedures along with the discipline of documentation and the situational awareness to defend against the dragons of workplace safety and regulatory compliance. 


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