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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS 2021

April 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

As of January 1, 2021, California has instituted new laws regarding Covid-19, minimum wage, safety, sick leave, and more. Know your rights!

WorkerWageandHourLaw

On January 1, California’s minimum wage (the minimum an employer may pay you) increased to $13 per hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $14 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees. Be certain you are being paid legal minimum wage. An employer who underpays may be subject to employee lawsuits.

As always, take time to review your employee classification. If you are misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, your employer may be trying to avoid giving you benefits and overtime pay. If this situation cannot be resolved with your employer, you are entitled to recover your lost wages through legal channels.

Regardless of citizenship, construction workers are entitled to certain workplace protections and rights. All workers, including undocumented personnel, are entitled to file legal complaints concerning wage and hour violations as well as workplace safety violations.

Employment,Health,andSafety

As of January 1, employers are legally required to notify employees of possible Covid-19 exposure after someone at the worksite tests positive for the virus.

This law also gives OSHA extensive authority to shut down a worksite it judges to be imminently hazardous.

A new 2021 California law expands your rights to family and medical leave. If the company you work for has five or more employees, you are now entitled to a job-protected 3 months of unpaid leave for major life events such as the birth of a child and major health problems. In order to qualify for these benefits, an employee must have worked for the company for at least 1250 hours over the previous 12 months. Both parents of a newborn who work for the same company qualify for the 12-week leave.

Leave has also been expanded for victims of crime or abuse that has caused mental or physical injury. A company with 25 or more employees must now provide time off work for psychological counseling, medical attention, or participation in safety planning.

In addition, new rules apply to employee use of sick days. As of the first of the year, employees may use their sick days for any reason they deem necessary. Businesses no longer have the power to deny employees use of their sick days on any grounds.

Know your rights!

Air Conditioning Takes Front and Center During Covid-19

March 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ventilation and indoor air quality have never been more important than they are today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), well ventilated indoor public spaces and buildings help prevent the spread of the COVID virus. Clearly, air conditioning plays a central role in this crucial issue. Here’s what you need to know about air conditioning and COVID-19.

CanAirConditioningSpreadCovid-19?

While there is anecdotal evidence that air conditioning may be a factor in spreading Covid, the research is still unclear. Regardless, the EPA and WHO recommend that public buildings and indoor spaces refrain from recirculating indoor air through their HVAC systems. To the greatest extent possible, these spaces should exchange indoor and outdoor air to remove or dilute contaminants such as the Covid-19 virus.

The greatest risk of Covid-19 spread in indoor spaces still remains overcrowding in an area of reduced airflow while coming into close contact with an infected individual. Unfortunately, HVAC systems are designed to save energy by pulling in less fresh air as outside temperatures climb, thus reducing airflow in the hottest part of the season. In addition, air conditioning removes moisture from the air, creating the drier conditions preferred by the Covid virus. Both these factors have the potential to increase Covid transmission.

MakingIndoorAirSafer

In private homes, increasing indoor air quality can be as simple as opening windows to let the fresh air flow through. Understandably, this is more difficult in commercial buildings. Other mitigation strategies have their uses including special short-range UV units, sometimes referred to as upper-room germicidal systems. When mounted on the wall or ceiling, these units successfully eradicate harmful airborne pathogens including viruses. Another option is large-scale air filters, though these may be difficult to run effectively in large public spaces.
Note that ionizing cleaners do not work against Covid.

HVACSystemOperationandMaintenance

While ancillary mitigation measures are helpful, the main load of safe air quality rests squarely on HVAC systems. Home system filters should be changed regularly, and safety and maintenance checks should be performed at least twice yearly by a professional technician.

Operating and maintaining commercial systems during a pandemic is a more complex process. Professionals must preserve system humidity and temperature set points, and maintain the clean air supply required by the system’s design needs. As it becomes necessary, the system should be flushed with the equivalent of three air or clean air supply changes at a time when the space is unoccupied. Outside air intake must be checked to assure that contaminated air is not reentering the building. In addition, assessing airflow to eliminate strong currents can reduce the possibility of virus transmission.

Using a combination of air cleaners and filters, it’s important to achieve at least MERV 13 performance for recirculated air in the system.

AWordofCaution

HVAC professionals need to be aware of the health risks involved in reopening public buildings that have been closed for long periods of time due to Covid-19. During reopening, all CDC guidelines must be followed to prevent life threatening mold and/or Legionnaires’ disease exposure.

Construction Industry Trends 2021

February 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Many observers believe that 2021 will be a rebound year for construction, as 2020’s shrinking effect on the industry is expected to begin to reverse itself in the coming months. There are several reasons for optimism, including the development of multiple Covid-19 vaccines to battle the pandemic, and safer job sites created during the past year which now implement new protocols to protect workers from contracting the corona virus.

Another bright spot can be found in a post-election survey done by the consulting firm Deloitte in which 68% of responding engineering and construction executives indicated that the business outlook for the construction industry is ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ positive.

Fewer Subcontractors

One of 2020’s trends that is expected to continue is the decrease in subcontractor employment. Many subcontractors were unable to remain in business due to the pandemic. General contractors adjusted to this alteration in the labor force by retaining workers on their payroll to perform needed tasks, resulting in better control of costs and performance.

Continued Safety Protocols

Safety has always been a major concern in the construction industry, but never more so than now. In addition to standard construction safety, employers will need to continue to guard their workers against the pandemic. As previously mentioned, job sites have now become safety compliant for Covid-19 with the addition of masks, hand sanitizing stations, social distancing, testing, and shift changes where possible.

More Construction Jobs

Another trend in construction will likely be a significant increase in job opportunities. As many as 226,000 construction jobs were lost in 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the industry recovers, many of these jobs will return. It’s projected that the majority of new positions will be offered by general contractors looking for skilled workers they want to keep “in house.” However, as the year progresses and the industry begins to restabilize, subcontractors will begin to make a comeback.

Infrastructure Boom

The new administration in Washington, D.C. intends to implement programs designed to create a robust infrastructure. If this comes to fruition, the industry can look for a boom in public works projects and infrastructure jobs.

New Manufacturing and Distribution Facilities

In the private sector there is renewed interest in b ufacturing and distribution facilities to help ease some of the challenges and shortcomings that have been revealed in the “just in time” inventory system we’ve embraced since the 1980s. In addition, distribution centers and warehouses serve the needs of e-businesses which have grown exponentially during the pandemic. This looks to be a fertile construction job market.

Final Word

Without question, 2020 has been detrimental to the construction industry. However, as we move into 2021 and toward a solution to the pandemic, the industry’s ‘lessons learned’ and ‘adaptations made’ will form the basis for a strong rebound and renewed growth in 2021.

Benefits of Online Learning for Construction Trades

January 1st, 2021 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Online learning is the future. It has become the normal process for the next generation to learn new skills. In addition to always providing the latest information and techniques to employees, it is a smart way to improve your bottom line, no matter the size of your company. Let’s take a look at some of the ways online learning can be of direct benefit to you, your employees, and your company.

Efficient Use of Valuable Time

No matter how you look at it, employee training is going to take time. However, online learning will help use that time in the most efficient way possible. Cyber classes allow employees to learn during project downtime, taking advantage of delays due to factors such as inclement weather. In addition, learning online saves workers the time involved in traveling to a scheduled in-person training session, significantly streamlining your new employee training.

As the contractor or employer, you are certainly capable of training new employees, but this may not be the best use of your time. Instead, consider creating custom online learning programs geared to company specific techniques and processes.

Individualized Learning

People learn at their own pace. Online learning permits workers to learn in their own time and own way, and to review course material as needed.

Saving You Money

Online classes are far less expensive than in-person classroom training. For example, large construction companies with multiple worksites, could be looking at significant expenses for off-site training such as airfare, hotel, per diem costs, and lost work time.

Company Compliance and Safety Training

A major benefit of online learning is enabling all employees to stay current with any changes in company compliance or safety measures. Again, these courses can be completed at home, saving you the time and cost of a company-wide in-person training session.

Encouraging Employee Growth

Once you’ve reached a comfort level with online learning, think about developing the talents of your staff. For instance, you may want to provide courses in construction site management, marketing, advertising, or leadership to promising employees. Your workers will benefit and so will your company.

Drones in the Construction Industry

December 1st, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

To the layman, drones may seem like the newest entertainment indulgence for kids or a novel way to expand your photography hobby. However, due to unparalleled surveillance capability, drone use has exploded in the construction industry with a trending growth of over 200% per year, as reported by DroneDeploy. The uses of drone technology in construction are numerous, varied, and continuing to expand, from aerial land surveying to safety monitoring and data collection.

Land Surveying and Mapping

Drones are capable of mapping vast expanses of land more quickly, efficiently, and economically than traditional methods. While useful, standard topographical maps can become quickly outdated. Drones provide information in real-time with the added advantage of producing high-resolution images capable of being manipulated into 3D models. From producing rapid information on the terrain’s suitability to identifying possible project challenges, drones are invaluable in making sure a project stays within budget and on schedule.

Project Surveillance

Drones enable contractors and building managers to quickly and easily keep tabs on every aspect of their project and stay apprised of every aspect of site activity and progress. This data can instantly be put to use to avoid costly problems that can affect the completion of the project.

Safety and Security

A major benefit of drone use on construction sites is the sharp increase in worker safety by providing visual data of potential work hazards, which can then be remedied. In many cases, drones record necessary data in situations where manual collection of information would place construction workers in dangerous or risky situations that could result in a fall.

Drones are unmatched in their ability to provide security surveillance. Many construction companies have begun implementing a 24-hour drone surveillance program to identify unauthorized personnel and protect the project and expensive equipment from vandalism and theft.

Communication

Communication is a key element in any project. Drone technology now provides instant, visual, and continuous connectivity among managers, construction workers, engineers, and design teams. In addition, drones are instrumental in improving client co munication by offering impressive aerial views of the project’s progress.

SCAFFOLD SAFETY TIPS

November 1st, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Working on raised scaffolding must be taken seriously, as it can prove dangerous or even deadly if proper safety precautions are not followed. However, if safety protocols and practices are adhered to, these structures can be just as safe as working any other elevated construction method. Let’s have a look at some of the most important scaffolding safety tips.

Get the Right Training

New safety regulations mandate that all workers who will be working on or near scaffolding be properly trained on scaffolding construction and safe usage. This includes how to get on and off the scaffolding safely, how to prevent falls, and how to respond to emergency situations while on the scaffolding. This type of training is necessary to keep not only yourself, but the everyone else on and below the scaffolding secure and safe.

Inspect Regularly

Always inspect scaffolding thoroughly at the beginning of the day, after breaks, and at the end of the day. Check to see that the base is secured, and that it is level and adjusted for any lean in the building. Make sure that every single guardrail and plank is installed or fitted safely and securely. Look for elevation changes and obstructions (such as wires), and check weather conditions.

Understanding Load Capacity

During the design stage of scaffolding, a common and dangerous mistake is failing to consider the full load the structure will be required to carry. For safety’s sake, do not add workers beyond the scaffold’s rated capacity. Also, watch that equipment does not overload the structure, and ensure that nothing is pushing against any guardrails.

Secure the Platform

Scaffolding is designed to be braced by, or entirely attached to, a building. If bracing is not adequately secured, scaffold movement may dislodge an end, which will reduce the stability of the scaffold. There are several types of scaffolding brace retention or locking systems. These systems need to operate freely during assembly and dismantling, and must also secure or lock to prevent the brace from dislodging. Never replace the brace parts supplied by the manufacturer with nails or other miscellaneous substitutions.

Take Advantage of Guardrails

A construction company must assure that any scaffolding over 10 feet high has guardrails on the three sides facing away from the building at minimum, and it is recommended that guardrails be installed on the building side as well. Guardrails are not a substitute for proper fall protection gear, which should be worn at all times while on the scaffolding.

Inspect It

Scaffolding structures must be constantly inspected and maintained to ensure their structural integrity and safety. An experienced inspector will check to see that all boards are intact, and that all components are safety compliant. Failure to keep these crucial components regularly maintained could lead to extremely hazardous conditions.

Keep Things Organized

Scaffolding structures are notoriously cramped, so it is essential to keep tools organized and out of the way. Remember to keep all walkways free of obstructions and trash that might cause a fall.

Balance Yourself

Scaffolding must be perfectly level to minimize the fall risk. Still, stay alert when on a scaffold, and always watch your balance to avoid falls and serious injury.

Use Protection, or PPE

PPE (personal protective equipment) such as head protection, fall prevention gear, and non-slip footwear should be worn at all times to minimize the risk of injury to yourself, your co-workers, and others in your immediate area.

Construction Safety Tips for Fall Protection

October 1st, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

For these safety tips, we focused on OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards in Construction. For each standard cited we have a brief explanation of the standard or hazard along with some general tips for workers to keep in mind in order to assure a safe work environment.

FALL PROTECTION

1. Subpart M – Fall Protection – 1926.501 Duty to Have Fall Protection.
Number of Citations Issued in FY2019: 7,085

Duty to have fall protection is the most cited standard in the construction industry since falls are one of the leading causes of worker deaths in construction. Employers need to do a better job of assessing job sites and implementing fall protection systems to protect workers.

Workers: Workers should familiarize themselves with all potential fall hazards on a job site. Never work in an area where fall protection systems have yet to be installed. Workers using personal fall arrest systems should inspect them before each use to ensure they are working properly and are free of damage. The lanyard or lifeline should be short enough to prevent the worker from making contact with a lower level in the event of a fall. This means considering the length of the lanyard, length of dynamic elongation due to elastic stretch and the height of the worker.

2. Subpart L – Scaffolds – 1926.451 General Requirements.
Number of Citations Issued in FY2019: 3,320

Approximately 65% of all construction workers perform work on scaffolds. Employees performing work on and around scaffolding are exposed to falls, electrocutions and falling object hazards.

Workers: Hard hats should be worn when working on, under, or around a scaffold. Workers should also wear sturdy, non-skid work boots and use tool lanyards when working on scaffolds to prevent slips and falls and to protect workers below. Workers should never work on scaffolding covered in ice, water, or mud. Workers are prohibited from using boxes, ladders, or other objects to increase their working height when on a scaffold. Workers should never exceed the maximum load when working on scaffolds. Never leave tools, equipment, or materials on the scaffold at the end of a shift. Workers should not climb scaffolding anywhere except for the access points designed for reaching the working platform. Tools and materials should be hoisted to the working platform once the worker has climbed the scaffold. If personal fall arrest systems are required for the scaffold you will be working on, thoroughly inspect the equipment for damage and wear. Workers should anchor the system to a safe point that won’t allow them to free fall more than six feet before stopping.

3. Subpart X – Stairways and Ladders – 1926.1053 Ladders.
Number of Citations Issued in FY2019: 2,851

Improper ladder use is one of the leading causes of falls for construction workers resulting in injury or death. Reasons for ladder falls include incorrect ladder choice, failure to properly secure the ladder, and attempting to carry tools and materials by hand while climbing.

Workers: Always maintain three points of contact while ascending and descending a ladder, that’s both feet and at least one hand. Portable ladders should be long enough to be placed at a stable angle extended three feet above the work surface. Workers should tie ladders to a secure point at the top and bottom to avoid sliding or falling. Tools and materials should be carried up using a tool belt or a rope to pull things up once they’ve stopped climbing. Never load ladders beyond their rated capacity, including the weight of the worker, materials and tools.

Safety is always top priority in your work environment.

Tips for Contractors on the Rise of the COVID-19 Crisis

September 1st, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

At the start of 2020, the construction industry’s outlook had never been brighter. The early momentum of the United States economy served to boost the confidence of construction industry leaders. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors in mid-March, 72% of contractors expected to expand their staffing levels over the following six months, while more than 68% expected their sales levels to increase. Unfortunately, these expectations have halted because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted construction projects worldwide in several ways, with numerous projects grinding to a halt. However, not all construction businesses have ceased operations for the time being. Several states in the U.S. have declared construction work as essential, and therefore will continue operations albeit in a limited capacity. Unfortunately, supply chain disruptions and a skeletal workforce are forcing project delays and stoppage.

The pandemic situation is continuously evolving. Many construction business owners have introduced several changes in their operations to adapt to the difficult circumstances. The implementation of social distancing, additional health and hygiene facilities, and remote work is essential to slowing down the spread of the virus.

As you deal with the impact of the coronavirus crisis on your operations, remember to do so with the mindset that you’re preparing for the recovery of your business. Here are some tips on how contractors can rise from the onslaught of COVID-19.

Evaluate Operational Risks and Short-Term Liquidity

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, your company will experience significant delays and disruptions due to the slowing down of the supply chain as well as the general shortage of labor.

At this point, you will need to assess your financial and operational risks and their impact on your overall margins. Because of the disruptions, you may be unable to fulfill your own obligations, so be proactive in renegotiating the terms of your contract if necessary. You should also consider alternative supply chain options, especially if your suppliers reside in areas that are severely impacted by the pandemic. If you source your materials overseas, especially in Asia, you may have to look for other options locally.

Many of the steps you need to take to counteract the impact of the crisis involve cash. For this reason, you need to assess your short-term liquidity and strictly monitor your cash flow. In particular, you need to focus on the management of your inventory (prolonged storage will incur proportional carry costs), as well as the collection of your pending receivables. If you’ve been diligent in filing your preliminary notices, you will have a better chance of collecting your invoices to support your COVID-19 crisis recovery.

Process

Contracts are the most powerful tool in a contractor’s arsenal, but only if they are done properly. The COVID-19 crisis has made the importance of every provision quite apparent. Unforeseen circumstances (force majeure) provisions, which are generally regarded as boilerplate clauses, have been at the forefront of discussions as many construction businesses have failed to fulfill obligations due to the pandemic. Depending on the language of a contract, these provisions can provide you with relief and more time to complete the job, or in some cases, void the contract altogether. Moving forward, this is a perfect opportunity for you to review your contract creation process and begin to negotiate contracts that address situations similar to this pandemic.

Prioritize Your Employees’ Safety

Construction business owners have always dealt with safety hazards on sites, but the pandemic is a completely different type of challenge. Understandably, there will be doubts among your employees about workplace safety that could affect their productivity.

Transitioning to the new normal is a challenge not just for you but for your employees as well. Your job is to explore any opportunities that can ease this transition. For instance, you can expand your work arrangements for non-field employees to include flexible options such as remote work. For field employees, you need to put measures in place to fight against infections, such as having more hygiene facilities and ensuring that social distancing protocols are followed. You may also need to revisit your employee leave policies and encourage workers with mild symptoms to take time off.

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 crisis has brought the global economy to its knees. No one knows when the pandemic will end and how businesses will recover. But if there’s anything that we have learned from previous economic crises, the construction industry is resilient. It may recover slowly, but it will always recover.

Tips for Contractors on the Rise of the COVID-19 Crisis

September 1st, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

At the start of 2020, the construction industry’s outlook had never been brighter. The early momentum of the United States economy served to boost the confidence of construction industry leaders. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors in mid-March, 72% of contractors expected to expand their staffing levels over the following six months, while more than 68% expected their sales levels to increase. Unfortunately, these expectations have halted because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted construction projects worldwide in several ways, with numerous projects grinding to a halt. However, not all construction businesses have ceased operations for the time being. Several states in the U.S. have declared construction work as essential, and therefore will continue operations albeit in a limited capacity. Unfortunately, supply chain disruptions and a skeletal workforce are forcing project delays and stoppage.

The pandemic situation is continuously evolving. Many construction business owners have introduced several changes in their operations to adapt to the difficult circumstances. The implementation of social distancing, additional health and hygiene facilities, and remote work is essential to slowing down the spread of the virus.

As you deal with the impact of the coronavirus crisis on your operations, remember to do so with the mindset that you’re preparing for the recovery of your business. Here are some tips on how contractors can rise from the onslaught of COVID-19.

Evaluate Operational Risks and Short-Term Liquidity

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, your company will experience significant delays and disruptions due to the slowing down of the supply chain as well as the general shortage of labor.

At this point, you will need to assess your financial and operational risks and their impact on your overall margins. Because of the disruptions, you may be unable to fulfill your own obligations, so be proactive in renegotiating the terms of your contract if necessary. You should also consider alternative supply chain options, especially if your suppliers reside in areas that are severely impacted by the pandemic. If you source your materials overseas, especially in Asia, you may have to look for other options locally.

Many of the steps you need to take to counteract the impact of the crisis involve cash. For this reason, you need to assess your short-term liquidity and strictly monitor your cash flow. In particular, you need to focus on the management of your inventory (prolonged storage will incur proportional carry costs), as well as the collection of your pending receivables. If you’ve been diligent in filing your preliminary notices, you will have a better chance of collecting your invoices to support your COVID-19 crisis recovery.

Process

Contracts are the most powerful tool in a contractor’s arsenal, but only if they are done properly. The COVID-19 crisis has made the importance of every provision quite apparent. Unforeseen circumstances (force majeure) provisions, which are generally regarded as boilerplate clauses, have been at the forefront of discussions as many construction businesses have failed to fulfill obligations due to the pandemic. Depending on the language of a contract, these provisions can provide you with relief and more time to complete the job, or in some cases, void the contract altogether. Moving forward, this is a perfect opportunity for you to review your contract creation process and begin to negotiate contracts that address situations similar to this pandemic.

Prioritize Your Employees’ Safety

Construction business owners have always dealt with safety hazards on sites, but the pandemic is a completely different type of challenge. Understandably, there will be doubts among your employees about workplace safety that could affect their productivity.

Transitioning to the new normal is a challenge not just for you but for your employees as well. Your job is to explore any opportunities that can ease this transition. For instance, you can expand your work arrangements for non-field employees to include flexible options such as remote work. For field employees, you need to put measures in place to fight against infections, such as having more hygiene facilities and ensuring that social distancing protocols are followed. You may also need to revisit your employee leave policies and encourage workers with mild symptoms to take time off.

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 crisis has brought the global economy to its knees. No one knows when the pandemic will end and how businesses will recover. But if there’s anything that we have learned from previous economic crises, the construction industry is resilient. It may recover slowly, but it will always recover.

Worksite Hazards of Dehydration and Heat-Related Illnesses

August 1st, 2020 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

A major challenge for employers and managers is keeping their industrial site workers properly hydrated during hot summer months. Soaring temperatures along with layers of required PPE equipment can create hazardous, even fatal conditions for workers. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very real potential dangers. Beyond its direct health impact, however, dehydration can also cause additional workplace hazards by compromising workers’ ability to focus and function, elevating the risk of accidents and injury.

Warning Signs of Dehydration

In the interests of safety, managers are strongly advised to become familiar with the warning signs of dehydration. In addition, workers should be instructed on how to spot dehydration and encouraged to keep a careful watch on co-workers. Those most at risk are individuals working in direct sun for long hours while wearing personal protection equipment layers.

According to OSHA, these are the common physical signs of dehydration.

  • Extreme thirst
  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Goosebumps or chills
  • No longer perspiring
  • Darkly colored urine
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Sunken eyes
  • Red face
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dry mouth

Preventing Worksite Dehydration

It makes sense for managers to have procedures in place to protect workers from dehydration in extreme heat. A good first step is instituting frequent breaks under shade or in a cool shelter to allow workers to reduce their body temperature.

Workers should be encouraged to drink water approximately every fifteen minutes at the rate of one quart (4 cups) per hour to replace lost fluids. Water is the best beverage choice, as coffee and soft drinks containing caffeine will deplete electrolytes more quickly and worsen dehydration.

At the End of the Workday

Workers should be reminded that when they return home after a long day in the heat, it is important to check their urine color. Dark yellow urine indicates dehydration, requiring the individual to keep drinking water until they pass clear urine.

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