Physical And Social Environment Of The Workplace Management Essay

Employee safety and health has been a growing concern of modern day businesses and is constantly analyzed- primarily in the Human Resources department.

Organizations need to place emphasis on improving the physical and social environments of their establishments, and foremost, perform risk management techniques to identify the dangers employees can encounter in the workplace. Preventing these problems can be highly beneficial and research has shown that a safe and hygienic environment leads to a higher productivity. Lastly, standards of procedure and policies that could be implemented to ensure employee safety and health is an action taken proactively by many companies.

These topics with all be explained quite comprehensively with the aid of journals and benchmark models, and ultimately, recommendations will be given followed by an ending conclusion. This paper aims to fulfil and exceed the expectations regarding research and reporting requirements of the assignment, and therefore an elaborate study is conducted.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability grow to be one of the single largest topics discussed by organizations of any size, sector or location. The general perception of activists and campaigners quarrelling about large multinational corporations reimbursing the community and people of third world countries at this time has developed into a reciprocated platitude, and nowadays, companies actually do practice CSR and sustainability in their operations and analysis of the important corporate activities and their consequences. However, one generally questions the actual meaning of these topics in order to distinguish how they are linked in regard to a company’s visions and missions.

Based on the hot topic of today’s agenda, it is common to notice that in this modern era that companies and organizations of all kind strive to attest their operations and prove to the several stakeholders involved in their business that they are indeed concerned about sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and the impacts of their manoeuvres on the several factors surrounding these topics. The most suitable way to prove this is through their actions which can also be documented to a certain global benchmark.

The most recognized guideline to follow is notably the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and this report covers the analysis and comparison of Aramex in regards to the GRI fundamentals, as well as their document on sustainability known as G3. Using these guidelines will help to define the scope in which both companies function in terms of their sustainability and behaviour in the setting that explores their nature and implementation of ethical values and CSR.

Topic Overview

The management of business operations, activities and corporate environments has widely been adapted into the commercial society of all industries. In the contemporary world, executives are constantly challenged by the management of internal and external surroundings that directly contribute to workforce performance rather substantially. In this assignment, I will focus on the internal surrounding which is employee safety and health. Ultimately, the primary objectives of a company is to obtain an acceptable profit and satisfy the stakeholders involved in running the business which include owners, employees, customers, suppliers and multiple communities. Therefore, by ensuring employee safety and health, this covers one of the company’s primary objectives to satisfy employees.

Millions of people around the world working for different organizations face many hazards in their area of work and Companies are fully responsible for ensuring that their workplace is evaluated to provide facilities are safe and healthy. Common practice nowadays involves companies taking proactive measures to ensure that their employees are looked after and are put in a working environment that is healthy for them (“Occupational Health and Safety”, 2006).

Organizations need to place emphasis on improving the physical and social environments of their establishments, and foremost, perform risk management techniques to identify the dangers employees can encounter in the workplace. Preventing these problems can be highly beneficial and research has shown that a safe and hygienic environment leads to a higher productivity. Lastly, standards of procedure and policies that could be implemented to ensure employee safety and health is an action taken proactively by many companies.

Physical and Social Environment of the Workplace

The physical and social environment plays a crucial role to an individual at the workplace. The physical workspace involves the material surroundings whereas the social aspect involves the communication levels in a company as well as other employees in the hierarchy. Since both factors are internally linked to the company, they should be taken seriously- especially in companies that are service based. This is because they are labour intensive, and therefore rely more on their employees for maximum output and efficiency (“Occupational Health and Safety”, 2006)..

The physical environment could be defined as individuals and their physical surroundings that would include equipment, office layout, uniforms, lighting, and so forth. Usually if the physical environment is not up to par this would cause some kind of discomfort towards employees. The physical environment is also negatively affected by the different hazardous features around such as misplaced equipment, malfunctioning machinery and congestion. If these factors are not analyzed, researched and fixed, employees could be negatively affected (Sweeney, 2003).

The social environment would be defined as the interaction between all employees at a corporation. This would also include the characteristics of individuals and the positions of the employees. The organization’s corporate culture may also be a part of this. Ultimately, if more cohesiveness and teamwork is practiced, and the company has a corporate culture that works for them, then it is likely that employees will be more satisfied. This is very important since this will help promote psychological wellbeing. Therefore it is increasingly important to examine the physical and social factors of a company’s workplace (Sweeney, 2003).

Company Profile

Aramex is a provider of international and domestic express package delivery, freight forwarding, logistics and other transportation services and operates to enable and facilitate regional and global trade and commerce.

On their website, they state that “In January 1997, Aramex became the first Arab-based international company to trade its shares on the NASDAQ stock exchange. After five years of successful trading, Aramex returned to private ownership in February 2002 and continued to expand and excel as a privately owned company, establishing global alliances and gaining stronger brand recognition. In June 2005 Aramex went public on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) as Arab International Logistics (Aramex) with its shares traded under ARMX.”

By land, sea, or air, Aramex delivers to your doorstep and offers a range of different methods and speeds to send packages and letters. Furthermore, they also offer shopping services such as Aramex Shop & Ship- where they deliver your internet packages for you and offers convenience, affordability and tracking.

The company generated 69% of its total 2007 revenues from the Middle East (down from 82.1% in 2005), 21.7% from Europe (up from 5.4%), 6.8% from Asia (down from 8.7%), 5.4% from Europe, and 2.8% from North America (down from 3.8%). Based on their recent Sustainability Report (2006) Aramex embarked on a global expansion plan and set a mission to become the fifth largest global logistics and express transportation service provider by 2010.

Importance of safety and health concerns for employees

Majority of the employees in a company naturally expect their work environment to be safe. Although some places are often safer than others due to the variety in occupation, job role and company development, Organizations create many regulations to ensure the well-being of their employees. Essentially, this is important for a number of reasons:

Employee Health Protection

The health of employees have improved significantly over the years due to advances in technology which have helped any work-related operations that put employees at health risks. An prime example can be seen in a factory where workers performing certain hazardous tasks of a process have been replaced by equipment and machinery that performs the task more efficiently and also eliminates the threat to employees (Anderson & Kaczmarek, 2004).

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Facility Security

When providing a hazard-free environment for employees, it also promotes the wellbeing of the workplace itself as the different policies and procedures used to improve security also complement the facility itself. An example may be the ban of smoking in the work area. Not only does this benefit other employees’ health, it also creates a safer environment in the facility itself (Sweeney, 2003).

Accident Prevention

The first step is to identify the existing and potential hazards, and then implement methods to thwart or manage the situation. Some businesses hire consultants or outsource this whereas others have internal departments to deal with this. Ultimately, by managing employee safety and health, there is lower probability of accidents occurring in the workplace, and this outlines the third importance of these concerns (Pirtle, 2009).

Job Security

When most people look at employee safety and health, they generally think of the physical aspects that relate to an employee. It is important to remember that employees who work in a stable and safe environment are usually happier and therefore consider staying with the company for a longer time. Therefore it is important to uphold this to reduce retention (Anderson & Kaczmarek, 2004).

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Profile

Description, Vision and Core Components

The GRI was initially created by a non-profit organization known as the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and this group consisted of over 50 groups in several fields such as investors, environmentalists, religious groups, labor unions and social justice parties.

The GRI has a primary vision which states that “reporting on economics, environmental, and social performance by all organizations is as routine and comparable as financial reporting”. The program accomplishes this foresight by developing, continuously improving and building capacity around the use of the GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Framework.

At the core of the GRI Reporting Framework are the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. Other elements include Sector Supplement and Protocols. All elements of the Reporting Framework are provided as a free public good and are intended for use by organizations of any size, sector, anywhere in the world.

Purpose

Sustainability reporting is a method implemented that measures, unveils and displays the performance of a corporation in its struggle to reach the standards of sustainable development.

The term sustainable reporting can refer to the company’s objectives in analyzing the economic, environmental and social impacts on a fundamental level. A sustainability report should provide a balanced and reasonable representation of the sustainability performance of a reporting organization – including both positive and negative contributions.

The following diagram illustrates the implications involved in the GRI Reporting Framework which was mentioned previously as Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, Sector Supplement, and Protocols:

The sustainability reports based on the GRI Reporting Framework have several outcomes and results that occurred within the reporting period in the context of the organization’s commitments, strategy, and management approach. According to the G3 Guidelines, reports can be used for the following purposes, among others:

Benchmarking: Using the evaluation of laws, beliefs, codes, performance standards and voluntary initiative in relation with sustainable development

Demonstrating: This illustrates the effects on the company that are incurred as a result of sustainable development as well as how their company has affected others for their own use of sustainable development

Comparing: This basically displays the performance of the organization and different organizations over time.

In conclusion, due to the scope of the usage of GRI, it is imperative that companies follow them closely in order to gain the full benefit of actually being sustainable.

Strategy and Profile

This section is vital to analyze the elevated aspects of the organization in terms of the type of sustainable levels used and understanding its effect on organizational performance. These include the following factors:

Factor

Example

Strategy and analysis

Statement from a top authority in the organization such as the CEO or chairman about the company’s sustainability and should include strategies for short-term, medium-term and long-term periods.

Organizational profile

Describes the company’s products, services, brands, location, operating countries, ownership status, markets served, and scale of the organization.

Report parameters

Contains the report profile, contacts for questions, report scope and boundary, GRI index and assurance.

Governance, commitments, and engagement

Entails how the organization is structured and governed, their pledges, commitment to external initiatives and stakeholder engagement.

Management approach and performance indicators

Performs tasks such as reporting on trends, use of protocols, and presentation of data, data aggregation, and metrics.

Aramex posted a letter from the founder and CEO which states their efforts in the use of executing sustainable development and management in their company, and their definition is “sustainability management is the integrated development and growth of our economic, environmental, and social performance in a manner that optimizes value for all of our stakeholders.” Furthermore, Aramex covers the final point of this topic, that is, analyzing the short-term, medium-term and long-term goals as fitting with sustainability and further listing them in detail in the report.

Organizational Profile

Aramex profoundly mentions every detail of their company including the statement of their company, their mission, purpose, a broad definition of sustainability and analysis of their personal sustainability performance, their entire scope of services, breakdown of their customers, key elements of their growth strategy, organizational structure, global network, acquisitions, company structure, and awards and certifications.

Report Parameters

Aramex, who has an exceptionally large amount of experience in the business world has analyzed every detail in accordance in GRI standards. They have added a report profile, which also includes the contact details of a company spokesperson, the scope of the report- which mentions their priority sustainability issues, and quality in their sustainability reporting. This is essential as it determines the points they are lacking in the business, and how they aim to improve it. Furthermore, they also list the limitations of the report including topics the report does not include (but still has some detail), partially included topics, and other considerations (such as acquisition strategies).

Governance, Commitment and Engagement

Amarex describes their organizational layout in detail, and further discusses it in relation with sustainability as shown in their topic “Governance oversight of economic, environmental and social impacts”. They also describe different management and control systems to evaluate and ensure conflicts of interest are avoided. They also have an Internal Audit Department which gives them reliable and useful information in appraising performances, fulfilling policies and procedures. A Code of Conduct was further created which is said to launch the following year, and Aramex have also defined their Quality objectives which include policy objectives, quality performance objectives, service and product quality objectives and quality system objectives. Lastly, they have covered the final point of this part in accordance to GRI standards- the external initiative. This includes the fact they are ISO certified and committed to using several components of the G3 standards to improve their report and are using external sources to help them with this. Furthermore, they plan to attain other audits, but are not committed to it just yet, and plan to do so by the end of 2009. Lastly, with the release of the report they also commit themselves to the United Nations Global Compact.

Management and Performance Indicators

This section refers to how the company assesses and manages sustainable development in the operations of their company into three different categories:

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Economic

Environmental

Social

Aramex on the other hand, list in detail each factor that surrounds sustainable development and lists their approaches in dealing with them as the following:

Economic: Economic Performance, Market Presence, Indirect Economic Impacts

Environmental: Overall, Materials, Energy, Water, Biodiversity, Emissions, Effluents and Waste, Products and Services, Compliance, Transport

Social (Labor): Employment, Labor-Management Relations, Occupational Health and Safety, Training and Education, Diversity and Equal Opportunity.

Social (Human Rights): Investment and Procurement Practices, Non-discrimination, Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, Abolition of Child Labor, Prevention of Forced and Compulsory Labor, Complaints and Grievance Practices, Security Practices, Indigenous Rights

Social (Society): Community, Corruption, Public Policy, Anti-Competitive Behavior, Compliance

Social (Product Responsibility): Customer Health and Safety, Product and Service Labeling, Marketing Communications, Customer Privacy, Compliance

Therefore, Aramex follows the GRI guidelines correctly and displays a preview of the performance indicators. In this report, I am only going to cover the social aspects as they refer directly to the workplace health and safety as an ethical practice.

Customer Relationship

Aramex has six core values that help them create and maintain their Social Values. Of these six values the first is the Customer Relationship. This value represents how they create and maintain the customer relationship in the long run, by delivering on-time, cost effective, secured, and customized services to their customers.

Aramex has 9 main customer service core values which they follow.

Aramex has improves their on-time delivery 6% from 2005 (88%) to 2006 (94%).

This is a result from their improved focus on the delivery time and on the customer needs. They have now Customer Management Tools such as the Global Tracking System on www.aramex.com, where the customer can keep track of their package globally. You can be anywhere in the world and all you need to do is to go online and track down your package. On this website the customer can also contact the customer service at Aramex and request various services, and inquiries.

Another managing tool is PACK, which is software that allows the account customers to manage their shipping needs electronically. It also provides the customer online communication, enables the customer to build consignee list, and shipments.

The last managing tool they have is ePOD, which is an Electronic Proof of Delivery. By using ePOD the customers can notifications on the status of their shipments.

Aramex is also investing on further technological development, in their contact center. Now Aramex can communicate with their customers through voice, web, email, fax, WAP, and XML.

Aramex engages with their customers through their Customer Teams, but also through conducting customized customer surveys to gather feedback from their customers.

Service Level Measurement is also an important player in Aramex team. It regularly monitor the service level provided to the customers though its quality of service standard audit system. These standards are automatically audited by the system. The system also provides tools for the Customers Teams, and tries to solve problems before they escalade. Aramex also has a Relationship Management Team which handles all the customer complaints. The customer privacy plays a main role in shipment as well.

The Marketing of Aramex is truthful and accurate about their products and services, in a creative and straight forward manner.

Human Resources Development

Human Resources Development is the second key value for creating Social Value. In Aramex they strongly believe in their people, and their culture. Some of the main indicators they believe in are:

Innovation

Entrepreneurship

Merit-based Opportunity

Mutual Respect and Openness

Health and Wellness

Commitment to Society

Aramex has a Human Recourses Management System where they try to:

attracting and maintaining talents

development and succession planning

handling the numerous acquisitions

These tasks have been both challenging and worked as an opportunity towards an integrated and improved system after every acquisition.

The Aramex Human Resources Management System based on the extensive policies and procedures which are a part of Aramex’s ISO09001:2000 certified management system. Their key functions are as following:

Recruitment

Training and Development

Career Planning

There are 5 Key Areas within Aramex’s the HR Development System:

Putting Sustainability at the heart of the ARAMEX Culture

Engaging Employees

* Ways of Engaging Employees

– Surveys, performance appraisals, team meeting, leadership retreats and conferences

* Understand what we are told

– Employee Ideas, Inputs, Concerns, and Perspectives

* How we respond

– Demonstrating responsiveness

* Overall quality of the engagement progress

Opportunities for Development

* Training

– Quality and employee satisfaction related training

* Focus on “leaders” and leadership development

* Equal opportunities

* Opportunities for Women

Global Workplace Conditions

* Handling of personal documents

* Equal pay for equal merit

* Working hours of couriers

* Sub-contractor compliance with ARAMEX policy

Employee Satisfaction

* Salaries

* Benefits, including Health Insurance

* Opportunities for development and promotion

* Job security and safety

All these points are briefly explained in Aramex’s report, and do not violate the laws, the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, or ethical issues.

The way they measure satisfaction is both directly and indirectly through:

Leadership surveys

Relevant questions among other surveys

Evaluation sessions

Turnover and absenteeism rates

Health, Safety and Security

Aramex are working towards Three Key Areas to create safety and security in their working environment, as well and improving and securing the health policies of their staff.

The Three Areas are:

Create a Safety Culture

– Ensure appropriate and high quality training for the couriers

– Improve management system for tracking and reporting accidents, injuries and any fatalities and carefully tracking their causes.

– Increase engagement with couriers and warehouse floor persons.

– Integrate safety into surveys

Health and Safety Management Systems

– H&S system (Health & Safety system)

– Health and Safety Working Group

Achieve Dramatic Performance Improvements

* Well-Targeted Training

* Implementation and Performance Gains

* Reducing road accidents

– Fleet Management System (FML) which tracks accidents for every vehicle in their fleet

* Reducing Fatalities

* Injuries

* Compliance

– There are not recorded a single significant fines paid relating to H&S in 2004, 2005, 2006.

All these points are explained in detail in their report.

Aramex takes all practical procedures to protect its assets, customers’ goods, other property loss, destruction or damage and to protect all its buildings from unauthorized intrusions. Every station has their appointed security officer. All the stations comply with their governmental security rules. Aramex also has 2 TAPA (Transportation Asset Protection Association), certified in Jordan, and is working towards an improvement in the Gulf. As a C‐TPAT certified provider, their security measures meet the latest requirements established by U.S. For 2006 there was only recorded one minor and isolated incident of non-compliance with the regulation resulting with an insignificant fine.

Investment in Society

Aramex has been engaging in humanitarian and sporting events, to maintain the history of them giving back to their society and community, and to show what importance the community has to their company.

Aramex also recently started the Investment in Society model.

At the end of 2005 Aramex spearheaded the creation of the Arab Foundation of Sustainable Development “Ruwwad”. Ruwwad serves as a nonprofit company serving to bring a quality life to the Arab World.

Aramex wants to reduce marginalization though inclusion and empowerment.

Aramex is looking at the marginalization between the socially well developed and the developing countries. This will give the people a fair and equal chance. This model includes:

Youth Development – with focus on youth empowerment

* Challenge 1 – Providing access to sports and recreational programs, for good physical and mental well being

* Challenge 2 – Reducing inequality of educational opportunity for young people

* Challenge 3 – Reducing economic pressures and demands on young people

* Challenge 4 – Supporting transition from education to employment

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Sustainable community development – with focus on marginalized communities

* Jabal Al-Natheef – Ruwwad’s local community partner for engaging both young people and the community members to develop their community

* Approach on decision-making and priority issues

* Aramex involvement

* Achievement to date

Supporting youth in Jabal Al-Natheef

Renovation of the local primary school

Agreement by the Ministry of Interior for the establishment of the police station

Establishment of key public services

Initiatives for children such as photography and reading projects

Building houses for those in need

Work for the Ministry of Health for the establishment of a Health Center and possible recreational park

* Moving forward at Jabal Al-Natheef

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Situating cultural development

Emergency and disaster relief – responding rapidly to natural and human disasters

* Lebanon Aid program

* Palestine Aid program

* Pakistan Earthquake

* South Asia Tsunami (end2004, early 2005)

Moving up the Model

All these points are as well as before mentioned in the report with detail.

According to the report, it seems like Aramex have been doing a lot for the community, and to show how important the community is.

Development plan for practicing employee safety and health

Practicing employee safety and health is vital in the corporation. Providing a safe and healthy workplace is a very important matter to a company. Employers are responsible for insuring health and safety regulations within their corporations.

In almost all countries the government makes sure that companies abide by certain standards and regulations set up specifically for employees, in addition to providing health insurance for all their employees. Studies show that once health and safety benefits are implemented, this increased value to businesses. Some examples include, a decrease in medical payments, fewer faulty items, less money spent for overtime benefits (Sweeney, 2003; Pirtle, 2009).

Corporations should develop a plan to make sure to avoid incidents that could harm or kill an individual. A basic plan would include these four pointers:

Management commitment and employee involvement: A management team enforces certain policies and procedures for employees to get involved in and follow.

Worksite Analysis-the area of work has to be analyzed for hazards.

Hazard Prevention and Control: Tasks are put in place to stop and take control of any potential hazards.

Training for Employees, Supervisors and Managers-All individuals under any position within the workplace should be trained to deal with hazards and emergency situations. (“Employee Health and Safety”, 2009)

A development of a plan will help individuals within a corporation deal with any possible dangers or situations that might occur at the workplace. It is important to learn the procedures since this could help stop possible injuries and hazards.

Preventing workplace accidents

Preventing workplace accidents can be a challenging issue- nonetheless, it should be part of every company’s primary objective. Although it may be difficult to constantly ensure that hazards are eliminated, it is best to do it whenever possible. This can also prevent further damage to your company- for example if an employee gets injured and decides to take legal action for the company’s carelessness (Pirtle, 2009). There is a simple three-fold process that can be followed to prevent workplace accidents:

The first method is to initiate processes based on the thorough examination of the hazards involved in the workplace and then implement training programs to ensure that employees fully understand how to follow the process and guidelines.

Secondly, it is not guaranteed that employees will follow the process and guidelines unless there are firm consequences. Therefore it is important that a disciplinary arrangement is created with the employees and agreed upon by everyone. Later, changes can be made to certain aspects if required.

The last, but most important factor is to plan for every situation that could be encountered. It takes many things into consideration- the first being assigning personal protective equipment to the employees that require it and train them to realize why it is needed, how to use it and how to maintain it. The company should also provide for regular maintenance of this equipment. Planning for emergencies (such as a fires, natural disaster) is also required and therefore certain drills should be established and practiced. Another important planning aspect can be to make certain that there is a medical team available which can check on employee’s health. Lastly, a company should be outsourced (preferably from the government) that consults organizations on their layout and policies and see whether or not it is safe and does not negatively affect employees’ health.

Ergonomics and policies implemented to ensure employee safety and health

The term comes from the Greek word ergon, which means “work,” and omics which means “management of.” Ergonomics is a science that is proposed to leverage the safety aspects, health quality, and productivity of a work environment in a company. Therefore this takes a number of things into consideration, and policies and standards of procedure are put in place to ensure employees’ safety and health. (Brookhuis, Hedge, Hendrick, Salas & Stanton, 2005). Ergonomic policies may include:

Emergency Medical Procedures: This action should be created to handle injuries that are work related and the plan includes sending the employee to the closest medical facility available for the time being.

Trained Personnel: In a situation where transporting the employee to a medical facility- a department should be readily available to manage any encounters as a result from bad health- whether it was at the workplace or out of the workplace. This can handle emergencies and general diagnostic problems.

Wellness Programs: In this program, Workers Compensation- a term coined to recompense workers for their injury whilst on the job- can be used to increase employee satisfaction and ensure their well-being. It also creates awareness, knowledge and caution among employees about accidents and how to prevent them.

Health Screening Programs: This program entails the company to send their employees on random screening tests which ensure their wellness and analyzes aspects that include vision and hearing screening which ultimately effect employee output and efficiency.

Therefore, if this is solved, Ergonomics is effectively used and employees are happier.

Recommendations and Conclusion

Looking after your employees’ in every way brings a number of great advantages such as increasing safety and health value and reduce business costs by lowering workers’ compensation and insurance costs, no medical costs, increased productivity, better quality products, higher employee motivation and reduced turnover. A few recommendations that can be made to improve on safety and health aspects include:

Hiring third party consultants from the private or public sector to analyze the workplace. They could even advertise this in magazines to show consumer’s the results of the consultancy.

Improve the management team to ensure a fully communicative and trustworthy workforce which can help their work improve and cause less accidents.

Effectively use the Human Resources department to recruit, select and train the most suitable candidates for future positions. This is because highly skilled workers are less accident prone

In conclusion, this topic is of extreme interest as it is a growing trend in the business world, and also concentrates on the well-being of all parties- primarily the consumers and the employees. Studies show that once health and safety benefits are implemented, this increased value to businesses. Therefore, if companies were to take these business practices more seriously, they would benefit many people- especially the employees. They would also gain a good reputation among the public due to their constant strive to help their employees, and taking part in any events or charities involved would further boost the company’s brand name. Ultimately, employee safety and health aspects are covered in many different regions of this report and have been elaborately explained.


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