Risky business

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Preventionis better than cure in the case of stress. And with HSE management guidelineson how to conduct a thorough stress risk assessment, organisations should begrappling with the problem before further working days are lost. nic patonreportsManagingstress can feel a bit like sailing a ship through waters where the maps are ofthe old-fashioned ‘here be dragons’ variety. Stress may be an increasing menacein the workplace, but when it comes to tackling it, much of the work being doneis still in its infancy.Itis not hard to see the scale of the problem: the Health & Safety Executive(HSE) estimates that about 13.5 million working days a year are lost to it. Buthow to curb it effectively and fairly is something that employers, and the HSE,are still struggling to grapple with. Thestress management standards being introduced by the HSE early next year, andits decision in August to order West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust toreduce the levels of stress faced by staff or face unlimited fines, has put theonus firmly on prevention.Innormal circumstances, the management of any health and safety-related problemwill start with the risk assessment. But, with stress, even the process of riskassessment becomes much more problematic. Stress is not a medically definedcondition; people react to different stressors and different levels of stressin different ways. Stress can also occur because of unpredictable, one-offevents, such as having suddenly to cover for an absent colleague. And employersneed to recognise that unforeseen stresses and strains can be brought into theworkplace from the home environment. All these elements can make it hard, ifnot impossible, to predict, and so extremely challenging to manage.Oftenthe best course of action, suggests Laurie Anstis, associate at employmentlawyer Boyes Turner, is to look back at any clusters of absence and try topredict from there what types of roles, scenarios or business decisions mightbecome workplace stressors.“Lookingback over patterns and saying ‘this was a risky situation’, or ‘doing that wasvaluable’, will at least give you something to go on,” he says. “Unlessyou have a look at the figures, you may not realise that there are kinds of rolesthat can be particularly stressful or where people may be vulnerable.”Absencedata and staff turnover can both be invaluable and can help to flag up bullyingmanagers, says Joan Lewis, of Advisory, Consulting and Training Associates. “Ifyou have a particular person who is causing a bullying problem you can oftentrack them through the company because when they change jobs there is often anincrease in short-term absence in the department they have moved to. Withstress, people who can, tend to leave and those that can’t go off sick,” shesays. Itis also worth being aware that presenteeism, as much as absenteeism, may be aclear sign of stress, she adds. Staying at your desk until all hours can showthat a person feels their workload is out of control, that they are notmanaging their time or productivity well and, sometimes, that they are scaredto be seen to leave because of a bullying culture.Indrawing up its management standards, the HSE has put on its website a model ofhow it believes a stress risk assessment should be carried out. This suggestsfour steps:–identifying the hazards–establishing who might be harmed and how–developing an action plan–taking action and evaluating and sharing work.Itsuggests there are seven central stressors that firms should look at: demandsof the job, levels of control, support, relationships; roles, chang, andculture. BristolCity Council is one of 24 organisations putting in place pilot schemes beforethe standards go live next year. Its experiences, and any feedback from thewider community, will be incorporated into the final standards when they arepublished next year.Thecouncil, which employs 18,000 staff, has been developing a two-stage pilotusing 45 to 50 volunteers from its neighbourhood housing department. A briefingplan was drawn up and the volunteers received a two-stage anonymous paperquestionnaire, which had an 87 per cent response rate.Thequestions asked about the demands on them, levels of control and support, theiroffice relationships, their individual roles within the organisation and howthe organisation deals with change.Theteam behind the pilot is now feeding that information into the HSE’s analysistool, where it will be transformed into coloured charts and graphs, and whereanything below a red line is seen as being of issue.Thestandards estimate that about 20 per cent of employees in an organisation arelikely to be very or extremely stressed at any one time. To meet the standards,at least 85 per cent of an organisation’s employees will need to be satisfiedwith the demands put on them, the level of control that they have and thesupport on offer.Whenit comes to managing relationships, roles and change, the standard will beachieved if at least 65 per cent of employees indicate they are satisfied.  Atthis early stage, the analysis is more at a departmental than a company-widelevel, and is more about assessing what sort of stress levels there are andwhether further intervention is required. But by suggesting acceptable andunacceptable percentages, the HSE standards set helpful benchmarks towardswhich organisations can aspire.Ifneeded, a second questionnaire will follow. It will be designed to tackle areasof concern, and includes a range of more detailed questions. Monitoring andreviewing is most likely to be carried out through conventional audits,employee review meetings and reviewing of the risk assessment process. Thecouncil has had a stress policy in place since January 2001 and isincorporating its own experiences during that time into the pilot process, sayssenior safety adviser Simon Hayward.“Whenit came to developing a risk assessment, it was very hard for us to get ourheads around it. How do we look at something that should be almost on anindividual basis? Normally you need to look at tasks, then assess them, butwith stress it’s down to the individual,” he says.Itwas impractical to examine each role in every department, so a departmentalapproach was needed. A bespoke risk assessment process was developed – designedto “let us dip a toe in the water”, says Hayward – to enable the council toassess whether a particular area or department was high, medium or low risk.Theprocess consisted of four steps: a preliminary assessment with line managers;formulating where the hazards might be; assessing and trying to quantify therisk factors; and drawing up an action plan (with action to follow wherenecessary).Areasthat needed to be looked at included the management culture, shiftworkingpatterns and job design, he says, accompanied by issues such as their severity,what harmful effects might be likely and the effect of that exposure.“Forinstance, in my job as safety adviser one of the big things is the reactivenature of the job. It can be a problem if you get a call at 4pm asking you tocome down to a site. You feel that things are out of your control,” he says.“Afew years ago there was a decision to decentralise the team, but it was foundthat made it much harder because there was not the support mechanism anymore.It’s now been pulled back together so there is always someone on hand to helpand they have tried to make sure that, if you are out of the department, you donot feel on your own.”Ithas also been a question of making it clear to employees that a stiff upper lipand simply trying to soak up the pressure until it becomes too much are notalways the best ways forward. “Thereis a process of educating both parties about the difference between stress andpressure, but there is a long way to go. We are trying to instil a generalawareness that saying you cannot cope does not necessarily mean you have failedand is not necessarily a bad thing,” Hayward says. Anotherfirm piloting the stress management standards is utility company Innogy, thename behind NPower, which manages coal, oil and gas-fired power stations aroundthe country.Innogyrecognised the need for a risk assessment for stress sometime ago, formallylaunching the process in October 2002, says Claire Forty, senior occupationalhealth nurse. Therisk assessment tool was drawn up by an external occupational psychologist andcombines an online scoring tool with a risk assessment tool.“It’slike a traffic light system, with either red, amber or green. Groups of peopleare given little red bars if there is an issue that needs investigating,” saysForty.Inthe first stage of the process department managers, after an initial briefing by an OH nurse, receivetraining to help them understand how stress manifests itself, what the commonsymptoms and causes are and advises on what to do next.Thecourse also advises on how to conduct a stress-based risk assessment, coveringareas such as appropriate interventions, what sort of reasonable adjustmentsmight they be expected to make and so on.Theassessment is carried out online, usually taking 10 minutes, and is assessedexternally. The data is fed back to the manager, who is expected to meet thestaff as a group and discuss the findings.Thequestions are divided into six sections, all linked to the scoring system, andmainly follow the HSE-set categories. They look at: culture; demands (what istheir workload and how much are they exposed to physical hazards?); control(how much say do they have?); relationships (are there any issues of bullyingand harassment?); role (do they understand their role in the organisation?);and support (what training is available, what support is there from peers andline management?). Theprocess has been piloted among 500 staff and nine managers but, says Forty,Innogy hopes to roll it out across the company, which employs about 14,000staff, later this month.Theprocess is supposed to be left a minimum of three months before being repeatedonline to assess whether actions taken have worked, she adds.Forboth the HSE and the pilot organisations, it is early days and much work isstill to be done. What is clear is that, however good the process, stress issuch a nebulous thing that trying to show which stressors are the most harmfulin the workplace, exactly how they operate and how you reduce them, is a realchallenge. Thereis no right or wrong answer, no right or wrong way to carry out a risk assessmentfor stress. That’s why HSE’s efforts in trying to set benchmark standards is sovital, points out ACT’s Lewis.Whatis also clear is that doing nothing is no longer an option. Employers are mostat risk from litigation when it can be shown that harm could reasonably havebeen foreseen, but that nothing was done to prevent it. Similarly, employersneed to be wary in assuming that simply offering a confidential counsellingservice – in line with the Court of Appeal’s decision in Sutherland v Hatton –is enough by itself.“Illnessesthat arise from stress are in exactly the same category as if it is a brokenleg from tripping over a loose wire. You have to have a mental picture thatasks ‘have we got a guard in front of the machine?’,” says Lewis.“Therisk has to be significant, but the only way you are going to find out is bydoing an assessment. You have to show evidence that you have tried to carry outa risk assessment and that you have tried to address those issues. If you don’tdo it, you are going to get clobbered,” she says. Related posts:No related photos. Risky businessOn 1 Oct 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Macerich unloads Phoenix mall for $100M; redevelopment awaits

first_img Tags Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink DevelopmentmacerichmallsRetail Real Estate Macerich president Edward Coppola and a rendering of the redevelopment in Pheonix (Macerich/City of Pheonix)Macerich Company has sold a Phoenix mall for $100 million, as the mall REIT continues to battle back from a withering year of losses.The buyer is a joint venture affiliated with Red Development, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.Santa Monica-based Macerich retained a 5 percent interest in the JV, which plans to redevelop the Paradise Valley Mall, on property that encompasses 92 acres, into a mixed-use complex.The redevelopment plan includes adding 3.25 million square feet of multifamily buildings, office space, and retail including a grocery store and restaurants. The mall was built in 1978 and was recently rezoned.Macerich is one of the largest shopping mall operators in the country, with a portfolio of 46 properties and 50 million square feet. Many of its properties are heavily leveraged, and the pandemic brought the firm increased financial pressure.Macerich collected just 26 percent of rent in the first quarter of 2020 and the year with little to celebrate. The firm reported $230 million in losses in 2021, compared to a net income of $96 million in 2019, according to the report.Macerich has a $1.5 billion line of credit coming due in July and around $800 million in mortgages under forbearance plans. Early this year, Alex Goldfarb, a Piper Sandler analyst who covers mall REITs, estimated the firm will need to raise $2 billion in 2021 to meet its debt obligations. In late February, Macerich brought on PJT Partners to help manage its debt.[LABJ] — Dennis Lynchlast_img read more

Magma genesis and mantle flow at a subducting slab edge: the South Sandwich arc-basin system

first_imgThe intra-oceanic South Sandwich subduction system is distinctive in having a narrow slab with slab edges at its northern and southern ends. We present new geochemical data to investigate magma genesis beneath the parts of the arc and back-are segments that lie close to the two slab edges: Kemp and Nelson seamounts at the southern edge of the South Sandwich arc, and segments E1 and E2 in the south, plus segments E9 and E10 in the north, of the East Scotia Sea. In the arc, Kemp and Nelson seamounts exhibit enhanced subduction fluxes compared to the remainder of the arc. The southernmost (Nelson) has the isotope (low Nd and high Sr isotope ratios) and elemental (ultra-high Th and Ba and high Hf/Nd ratios) characteristics of a sediment melt, or supercritical aqueous fluid, component. The more northerly (Kemp) has the same characteristics as the remainder of the arc (high Nd and slightly raised Sr isotope ratios, high Nd/Hf ratios, high Ba/Th ratios), indicative of a fluid component derived mainly from subducted crust, but has a greater mass fraction of that component than the rest of the arc. In the back-are basin, the slab-edge segments are generally fed by more fertile mantle (E-MOR-B in all but E I) than the segments in the centre of the basin (N-MORB). At the edges, segments furthest from the trench (E2, E9) have small subduction components while those nearer to the trench (E1, E10) have larger subduction components and slightly more depleted mantle. We argue that several processes were important at the slab edges: roll-back of the slab, forcing sideways flow of relatively enriched mantle into the mantle wedge; convergence of the arc with the back-are spreading centre, imparting a greater subduction component into the back-arc lavas; and anomalous heating of the subducting slab, increasing subduction fluxes and the contribution of sediment melts to the subduction component.last_img read more

Geothermal bryophyte habitats in the South Sandwich Islands, maritime Antarctic

first_imgQuestion: How does geothermal activity influence terrestrial plant colonization, species composition and community development in the Antarctic? Location: South Sandwich Islands, maritime Antarctic. Methods: Bryophytes were documented during a biological survey of the archipelago in January and February 1997. Particular attention was given to sites under current or recent influence of geothermal activity. Temperature profiles obtained across defined areas of activity on several islands were linked with the presence of specific bryophytes. Results: Greatest bryophyte richness was associated with geothermally influenced ground. Of 35 moss and nine liverwort species recorded, only four mosses were never associated with heated ground, while eight of the liverworts and 50% of the mosses were found only on actively or recently heated ground. Some species occur in unheated sites elsewhere in the maritime Antarctic, but were absent from such habitats on the South Sandwich Islands. Several species occurred in distinct zones around fumaroles. Maximum temperatures recorded within the upper 0.5 cm of the vegetation surface were 40 – 47 °C, with only Campylopus introflexus tolerating such temperatures. Maximum temperatures 2.5 or 5 cm below the vegetation surface of this moss reached 75 °C. Other bryophytes regularly present in zoned vegetation included the mosses Dicranella hookeri, Sanionia georgicouncinata, Pohlia nutans and Notoligotrichum trichodon, and the liverworts Cryptochila grandiflora and Marchantia berteroana. Surface temperatures of 25 – 35 °C and subsurface temperatures of 50 – 60 °C were recorded in these species. Conclusions: These exceptional plant communities illustrate the transport of viable propagules into the Antarctic. Individually ephemeral in nature, the longer term existence of geothermal habitats on islands along the Scotia Arc may have provided refugia during periods of glacial expansion, facilitating subsequent recolonization of Antarctic terrestrial habitats.last_img read more

Low potential for stratospheric dynamical change to be implicated in the large winter warming in the central Antarctic Peninsula

first_imgStratospheric change associated with the Antarctic ozone hole is clearly implicated in changing surface climate near 65°S in late summer, in both measurements and models, via downward propagation of height anomalies following the final warming. But one of the largest changes in surface temperature in Antarctica has occurred in the Antarctic Peninsula at 60 to 65°S in winter, and most of the change at 65°S occurred before the ozone hole. Stratospheric change can cause tropospheric change in Antarctic winter by modifying the reflection and refraction of planetary waves, whereby a stronger stratospheric vortex moves the tropospheric jets polewards, which can modify the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) in surface pressure that forces the tropospheric circumpolar winds. We examine stratospheric influence on the SAM in winter by inter-annual correlation of the SAM with the solar-cycle and volcanic aerosols, which act to change forcing of the stratospheric vortex in winter. Correlations are a maximum in June (midwinter) and are significant then, but are poor averaged over winter months. Hence the potential of change in the stratosphere to change Antarctic tropospheric climate in winter by dynamical means is low. This negative result is important given the proven high potential for change in summer by dynamical means.last_img read more

Unlocking the time capsule of historic aerial photography to measure changes in Antarctic Peninsula glaciers

first_imgRecent studies have reported widespread retreat and acceleration of glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula, attributed to regional warming. The loss of ice is a contributor to sea-level rise, but its volume and impact on sea level is poorly known. There are few ground measurements of ice thickness change and existing satellite altimeters are ineffective over the mountainous terrain.An accurate assessment of changes in surface height, and hence ice volume, of glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula over past decades is needed to aid better estimates of their past impact on sea-level rise and predictions of their future contribution.There is an archive of over 30,000 aerial photographs going back to the 1940s for parts of the Antarctic Peninsula and photogrammetry of time-series of these historic photographs is now the only way to reconstruct changes in glacier surface height over the last fifty years. However, the historic aerial photographs are difficult to use for detailed measurements due to inadequate ground control, unfavourable sortie characteristics, incomplete calibration data and use of paper prints.This paper describes a method to provide control for historic photos without ground fieldwork by linking them to a newly-acquired, highly-accurate photogrammetric model adjusted through direct kinematic GPS positioning of the camera. It assesses the achievable accuracy through a worked example using a glacier on the Antarctic Peninsula with typical aerial photography at five dates from 1947 to 2005.Overall measurement accuracy of better than 2 m RMSE in X, Y and Z was achieved for all the photography types, which is precise enough to allow reliable measurement of changes in ice thickness for the glacier over decadal periods. The principal constraints are image quality of the historic photographs and using paper prints.last_img read more

Emission of methane from plants

first_imgIt has been proposed that plants are capable of producing methane by a novel and unidentified biochemical pathway. Emission of methane with an apparently biological origin was recorded from both whole plants and detached leaves. This was the first report of methanogenesis in an aerobic setting, and was estimated to account for 10-45 per cent of the global methane source. Here, we show that plants do not contain a known biochemical pathway to synthesize methane. However, under high UV stress conditions, there may be spontaneous breakdown of plant material, which releases methane. In addition, plants take up and transpire water containing dissolved methane, leading to the observation that methane is released. Together with a new analysis of global methane levels from satellite retrievals, we conclude that plants are not a major source of the global methane production.last_img read more

Source region for whistlers detected at Rothera, Antarctica.

first_imgThe accepted mechanism for whistler generation implicitly assumes that the causative lightning stroke occurs within reasonable proximity to the conjugate foot point of the guiding magnetic field line and that nighttime whistlers are prevalent because of low transionospheric attenuation. However, these assumptions are not necessarily valid. In this study we consider whistler observations from Rothera, a station on the Antarctic Peninsula, and contrast their occurrence with global lightning activity from the World Wide Lightning Location Network. The correlation of one-hop whistlers observed at Rothera with global lightning yields a few regions of significant positive correlation. The most probable source region was found over the Gulf Stream, displaced slightly equatorward from the conjugate point. The proximity of the source region to the conjugate point is in accord with the broadly accepted whistler production mechanism. However, there is an unexpected bias toward oceanic lightning rather than the nearby continental lightning. The relationship between the diurnal pattern of the Rothera whistlers and the conjugate lightning exhibits anomalous features which have yet to be resolved: the peak whistler rate occurs when it is daytime at both the source and the receiver and when source lightning activity is at its lowest. As a result, we propose that preferential whistler-wave amplification in the morning sector is a possible cause of the high whistler occurrence, although this does not account for the bias toward oceanic lightning.last_img read more

Daytime D region parameters from long-path VLF phase and amplitude

first_imgObserved phases and amplitudes of VLF radio signals propagating on very long paths are used to validate electron density parameters for the lowest edge of the (D region of the) Earth’s ionosphere at low latitudes and midlatitudes near solar minimum. The phases, relative to GPS 1 s pulses, and the amplitudes were measured near the transmitters (∼100–150 km away), where the direct ground wave is dominant, and also at distances of ∼8–14 Mm away, over mainly all-sea paths. Four paths were used: NWC (19.8 kHz, North West Cape, Australia) to Seattle (∼14 Mm) and Hawaii (∼10 Mm), NPM (21.4 kHz, Hawaii) and NLK (24.8 kHz, Seattle) to Dunedin, New Zealand (∼8 Mm and ∼12 Mm). The characteristics of the bottom edge of the daytime ionosphere on these long paths were found to confirm and contextualize recently measured short-path values of Wait’s traditional height and sharpness parameters, H′ and β, respectively, after adjusting appropriately for the (small) variations of H′ and β along the paths that are due to (1) changing solar zenith angles, (2) increasing cosmic ray fluxes with latitude, and (3) latitudinal and seasonal changes in neutral atmospheric densities from the (NASA) Mass Spectrometer Incoherent Scatter- (MSIS-) E-90 neutral atmosphere model. The sensitivity of this long-path (and hence near-global) phase and amplitude technique is ∼ ± 0.3 km for H′ and ∼ ± 0.01 km−1 for β, thus creating the possibility of treating the height (H′ ∼70 km) as a fiduciary mark (for a specified neutral density) in the Earth’s atmosphere for monitoring integrated long-term (climate) changes below ∼70 km altitude.last_img read more

Quantifying Debris Thickness of Debris-Covered Glaciers in the Everest Region of Nepal Through Inversion of a Subdebris Melt Model

first_imgDebris‐covered glaciers are ubiquitous in the Himalaya, and supraglacial debris significantly alters how glaciers respond to climate forcing. Estimating debris thickness at the glacier scale, however, remains a challenge. This study inverts a subdebris melt model to estimate debris thickness for three glaciers in the Everest region from digital elevation model difference‐derived elevation change. Flux divergences are estimated from ice thickness and surface velocity data. Monte Carlo simulations are used to incorporate the uncertainties associated with debris properties, flux divergence, and elevation change. On Ngozumpa Glacier, surface lowering data from 2010 to 2012 and 2012 to 2014 are used to calibrate and validate the method, respectively. The debris thickness estimates are consistent with existing in situ measurements. The method performs well over both actively flowing and stagnant parts of the glacier and is able to accurately estimate thicker debris (>0.5 m). Uncertainties associated with the thermal conductivity and elevation change contribute the most to uncertainties of the debris thickness estimates. The surface lowering associated with ice cliffs and supraglacial ponds was found to significantly reduce debris thickness, especially for thicker debris. The method is also applied to Khumbu and Imja‐Lhotse Shar Glaciers to highlight its potential for regional application.last_img read more

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