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2 days ago · by · 0 comments

Critical Cyber Exploits Affect Nearly All Computers

Cyber security researchers recently announced the discovery of two major security flaws that could allow hackers to bypass regular security measures and obtain normally inaccessible data. The flaws, referred to as Meltdown and Spectre, are both caused by design flaws found in nearly all modern processors. These vulnerabilities can be exploited to access all of the data found in personal computers, servers, cloud computing services and mobile devices.

Because Meltdown and Spectre are both caused by design flaws, experts believe that they will be harder to fix than traditional security exploits. Additionally, software patches that have already been released to help address the vulnerabilities can cause computer systems to slow down significantly, which may impact their ability to perform regular tasks.

Researchers believe that Meltdown and Spectre may be limited to processors manufactured by different companies, but also warn that the design flaws that contribute to Meltdown and Spectre have been present for years. Here are some key details about each flaw:

  • Meltdown: This flaw can be used to break down the security barriers between a device’s applications and operating system in order to access all of the device’s data. Meltdown can be used to access desktop, laptop, server and cloud computer systems, and can even be used to steal data from multiple users who share one device. Although researchers have only been able to verify that Meltdown affects processors made by Intel, other processors may also be affected. Many software developers have already released updates that prevent hackers from exploiting Meltdown.
  • Spectre: This flaw can be used to break down the security barriers between a device’s different applications and access sensitive data like passwords, photos and documents, even if those applications adhere to regular security checks. Spectre affects almost every type of computer system, including computers, servers and smartphones. Additionally, researchers have confirmed that the design flaw that enables Spectre is present in Intel, AMD and ARM processors that are used by nearly every computer and mobile device. Software developers are currently working on a patch to prevent the exploitation of Spectre, but some experts believe that future processors may have to be redesigned in order to fix the vulnerability.

When Meltdown and Spectre were originally discovered in 2017, researchers immediately

reported them to major hardware and software companies so work on security fixes could begin without alerting hackers. As a result, services and applications offered by companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon have already been updated to help defend against the flaws. However, you shouldn’t rely solely on a software patch to protect against these vulnerabilities. Here are some steps you can take to protect your computer systems and devices from Meltdown and Spectre:

  • Update all of your devices immediately, and check for new updates regularly. You should also encourage your friends, family members and co-workers to do the same.
  • Contact any cloud service providers and third-party vendors you use to ensure that they are protected against Meltdown and Spectre. Cloud services and computer servers are especially vulnerable to the exploits, as they often host multiple customers on a single device.
  • Install anti-virus and firewall systems to protect against regular malware. Researchers believe that hackers need to gain access to a device in order to exploit Meltdown or Spectre, so keeping your devices free of malware can help prevent data theft.

For additional risk management updates, contact Scurich Insurance today.

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3 days ago · by · 0 comments

2017 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently unveiled its top 10 most frequently cited violations. The agency reports the leading causes of workplace injuries during its fiscal year (October through the following September).
The 2017 top 10 list of most frequently cited standards did not change significantly from 2016, with fall protection violations remaining at the top of the list. In fact, the top five most cited violations remained the same.

  1. Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501): 6,072 citations
  2. Falls from ladders and roofs still account for the majority of injuries at work. Identifying fall hazards and deciding how to best protect workers is the first step in eliminating or reducing fall hazards. This includes, but is not limited to, guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall protection systems in conjunction with safe work practices and training.

  3. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200): 4,176 citations
  4. In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information must be available about the identities and hazards of all chemicals in use. OSHA standard 1910.1200 governs hazard communication to workers about chemicals that are both produced or imported into the workplace. Both the failure to develop and maintain a proper written training program for employees, as well as the failure to provide a Safety Data Sheet for every hazardous chemical, top the citation list.

  5. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451): 3,288 citations
  6. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the vast majority of scaffold accidents can be attributed to the planking or support of the scaffold giving way, or to employees slipping or being struck by falling objects. The dangers associated with scaffold use can be controlled if employers strictly enforce OSHA standards.

  7. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134): 3,097 citations
  8. Standard 1910.134 provides employers with guidance in establishing and maintaining a respiratory inspection program for program administration, worksite-specific procedures and respirator use. Respirators protect workers from oxygen-deficient environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards could cause cancer, lung impairment, and other diseases or death.

  9. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147): 2,877 citations
  10. Lockout/tagout (LOTO) refers to specific practices and procedures that safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities. Workers who service mechanical and electrical equipment face the greatest risk of injury if LOTO is not properly implemented. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

  11. Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053): 2,241 citations
  12. These types of violations typically occur when ladders are used for purposes other than those designated by the manufacturer, such as when the top step of a stepladder is used as a step, when ladders are not used on stable and level surfaces, or when defective ladders are not withdrawn from service. Most employee injuries can be attributed to inadequate training and a disregard for safe operating procedures.

  13. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178): 2,162 citations
  14. Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (particularly forklifts) occur. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are driven off of loading docks or when they fall between docks and unsecured trailers. Other common injuries involve employees being struck by lift trucks or falling from elevated pallets and tines. Most incidents also involve property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls and machinery.

  15. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212): 1,933 citations
  16. When left exposed, moving machine parts have the potential to cause serious workplace injuries, such as amputations, burns, blindness, and crushed fingers or hands. The risk of employee injury is substantially reduced by installing and maintaining the proper machine guarding.

  17. Fall Protection Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503): 1,523 citations
  18. Because falls represent such a serious risk, employers must train employees to identify potential fall hazards and follow procedures in order to minimize the chance of a fall. According to OSHA, employees should be trained to use fall protection methods, such as guardrails, safety nets and personal fall arrest systems, and employers should verify that employees have been trained by preparing written certification records.

  19. Electrical—Wiring Methods (29 CFR 1910.305): 1,405 citations
  20. Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers, such as electric shock, electrocution, fires and explosions. Electrical wiring violations that top the electrical citation list include the failure to install and use electrical equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions, failure to guard electrical equipment, failure to identify disconnecting means or circuits, and not keeping workspaces clear.

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2 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

Employee Retention

It costs nearly 20 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace a current employee. If you are experiencing high turnover, chances are you are experiencing high losses as well. The costs of reviewing applications, processing candidates, conducting interviews, training and purchasing equipment for new hires aren’t only monetary – they also cost time and lost productivity.

Given the high cost of losing an employee, retention should be a top priority for every organization. If you do not already have a retention strategy, now is the time to make one. The first step in curbing turnover is figuring out why employees are leaving.

Why Employees Leave

Employees leave organizations for a variety of reasons, depending on their unique circumstances. However, there are some common reasons that may help determine the best retention strategy for your organization. Below are some of the most common reasons employees leave:

  • Stagnation – Employees are often looking for career and personal growth. If they have no upward mobility at your company, they may look for it elsewhere.
  • Pay – Compensation needs to be competitive to attract the best talent. Likewise, good pay is needed to retain top talent.
  • Workplace culture – Expectedly, co-workers matter to employees. If they feel ostracized or marginalized by co-workers (or management), they will want to leave that environment.
  • Better opportunities – Like with stagnation, employees leave when they believe they have better prospects elsewhere. This could be due to a higher-paying position or simply a job more aligned with their interests.

How to Retain Employees

Retention strategies are not universal. It is possible that techniques and strategies that work for some organizations will not work for yours. This means you need to analyze why your employees are leaving and strategize how to combat those reasons.

Exit interviews are a great way to analyze why employees are leaving. During exit interviews, managers ask questions to employees who are on their way out of the company. Questions should be related to the employees’ time with the company, such as what they enjoyed, what they disliked and what prompted their resignation. Exit interviews will only be useful with employees who resign or leave voluntarily, not those who have been terminated.

Depending on the responses from the exit interviews, you can begin crafting a retention strategy. For instance, if a main catalyst for employee turnover is a lack of upward mobility, think about how to change that. It could mean creating new roles or, if roles already exist, making a clear guide for career pathing at the organization.

Creating a retention strategy does not need to be solely reactive. Consider creating a survey to gauge employee satisfaction with the company. Include questions about what people like and what they do not like about their job.
Retaining employees is critical for any business an falling short on retention can be devesating to your bottom line. It costs nearly 20 percent of an annual salary to replace an employee, so implementing proactive retention straties is key to mainitning your workforce.

Answer the questions below to determine if your orginzation has a high turnover risk.

INSTRUCTIONS: Begin by answering the questions below. Each response will be given a numerical value depending on the answer. After completeing the questions, total your score using the scale at the bottom of the page.
YES: 0 points NO: 2 points UNSURE: 2 points
QUESTION ANSWER SCORE
Have you reviewed pay scales within the last three years?    
Do you survey employees career groth desires each year?    
Have you compared your health insurance against similar companies in your industry?    
Do you routinely survey employees to ensure they feel comfortable and included in the workplace environment?    
Do you track top employee performers?    
Do you monitor the market to ensure top performers are appropriately compensated?    
Have you surveyed employees in the past to guage their workplace satisfaction?    
Do you have a retention strategy in place for when a top performer comes to you with another offer?    
Do you offer incentives beyone health benefits to employees?    
Have you implemented employee engagement strategies to curb turnover proactively?    
TOTAL SCORE:    
Low Risk Moderate Risk High Risk
0 – 6 7 – 13 14 – 20

There is no hard and fast rule for successful employee retention. Creating a retention strategy for your organization requires you to analyze both your company and its industry. Contact Scurich Insurance for more information on retention and for materials to help you craft your strategy.

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