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Category Archives: News


What Happens When OSHA Comes Calling?

osha-hazcom-1110x400_0OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – is a federal agency charged with creating and enforcing safe and healthy work conditions in businesses across the U.S. OSHA standards focus on emergency communications and response, fire prevention, safety notices, and education. They are charged with upholding the requirement that all employers to keep records of workplace illnesses and injuries. (These records don’t have to be submitted to OSHA but employers must keep them on-site for five years in the event of an OSHA inspection.)

According to “OSHA Fact Sheet: OSHA Inspections,” the agency prioritizes its inspection resources on the most hazardous workplaces in this order:

  • Imminent Danger. Workplace hazards that post a threat of death or serious physical harm to employees.
  • Fatalities and catastrophes. Any incident involving the death or hospitalization of three or more employees.
  • Complaints. An allegation of serious hazards or health and safety violations reported by an employee (anonymity is an option).
  • Follow-ups. Inspection of facilities to determine that a previously reported problem has been corrected.
  • Planned or regularly programmed investigations. Routine inspections of “high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses.”

On-Site Inspections

OSHA inspections generally consist of four parts:

Presentation of credentials. The OSHA compliance officer presents his or her credentials (including photograph and serial number).

Opening conference. The OSHA compliance officer meets with the employer to get general information about both the business and its safety and health program. Among the possible areas of inquiry:

  • Ways in which information about health and safety policies are communicated to workers
  • Methods of enforcing safety and health regulations
  • The process by which the business conducts an accident investigation and whether new preventative measures are implemented as a result of that investigation
  • Types of health and accident prevention training programs in place
  • If an “OSHA Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law” poster is prominently displayed in the workplace

The OSHA compliance officer is obligated by law to explain the reasons behind the inspection, as well as the scope and procedures of the investigation.

The walkaround. Also known as an “inspection tour” or “walkthrough,” the OSHA inspector-led walkaround focuses on those areas of the workplace covered by the inspection, making sure that conditions meet the standards set by the agency (such as those involving employee exposure to physical or chemical hazards). An employer representative, as well as an authorized employee representative, may accompany the compliance officer on the walkaround.

In some cases, apparent safety or health violations may be immediately corrected. According to the OSHA Fact Sheet: “While the law requires that these hazards must still be cited, prompt correction is a sign of good faith on the part of the employer. Compliance officers try to minimize work interruptions during the inspection and will keep confidential any trade secrets they observe.”

The closing conference. The OSHA inspection concludes with a meeting to discuss the findings with the employer and employee representatives. During this closing conference, alleged violations are described and potential corrective steps explored.

After the OSHA inspection process is completed, the results are delivered to the employer by certified mail. If OSHA determines that violations have taken place, it will issue a citation and suggested penalty within six months of that violation’s occurrence. Serious penalties may reach up to $7,000 (for a serious violation) and up to $70,000 (for willful or repeated violations).

Businesses are obligated to post a copy of each OSHA citation “at or near the place a violation occurred, for three days or until the violation is abated, whichever is longer.”

OSHA offers employers the chance to appeal a citation through an informal conference with the OSHA Area Director. Employers may also formally contest the alleged violations and penalties within 15 days of receiving the citation. An OSHA Review Commission then makes a final determination.

White House Fence-Jumper More Dangerous Than Previously Thought

Security at the White HouseThe recent security breach at the White House was much more serious than previously reported.

Last week, Omar Gonzalez was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted area while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. Secret Service officials originally reported that Gonzalez was quickly detained at the main entrance after scaling a wall at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. However, The Washington Post broke the latest details on Monday that Gonzalez actually made it much deeper into the building.

Upon clearing a fence outside the White House, the accused overpowered a Secret Service officer at the front door and barreled along through the 80-foot-long East Room, reaching the door of the Green Room where he was eventually detained, knife in hand.

Apple Breaks Into Mobile Payments

applepay_applewatchSmartphone makers have been trying to replace our wallets with digital pay methods for several years. While the trend has yet to widely catch on outside of the tech sphere, Apple (so often the bridge between the super geeky and super chic) believes that they may be able to change that.

On Tuesday, Apple announced it would soon be offering its own version of the mobile wallet, dubbed Apple Pay. Apple claims to have already established relationships with three major credit card companies, and retail giants like Target and McDonald’s – meaning soon you’ll be paying for your Number 3 with your iPhone or Apple Watch.

The Facebook Color Change Scam Is Back

don't like FBNO – you cannot change the color of Facebook. Well… you can (at your own risk), but that app you just downloaded, it’s a scam.

Cheetah Mobile, security software researcher and provider, was the first to confirm the reemergence of the hack. The scam appears as a Facebook app that can be shared or posted on the News Feed. So far, more than 10,000 people have been tricked into downloading the malware, according to the Cheetah Mobile Security blog post.

Google to Boost Encrypted Websites in Search Rankings

google encryptionGoogle is using its massive reach and power for good as the search engine pressures websites to better protect the people using their services. The move involves a change in Google’s formula for determining search result rankings. Websites that automatically encrypt their services will now be ranked higher in Google’s recommendation system. The goal is to pressure web developers to adopt technology that defends against hackers breaking into websites and stealing users’ sensitive information.

Edward Snowden’s revelations shined a light on the gaping security holes in unencrypted websites. Encryption makes it more difficult for hackers and the NSA alike to grab unsuspecting user’s personal data transmitted over unsecured Wi-Fi networks. You can spot an encrypted website by the telling “https” in the URL.

Billions of Passwords Stolen by Russian Cybercrime Ring CyberVor

hackerBy now you’ve likely heard about Tuesday’s New York Times report of the largest stockpile of stolen online credentials in known history. The mammoth hack job was brought to light by the cybersecurity firm Holden Security LLC, which revealed that a Russian hacking group has stolen 1.2 billion sets of unique login credentials, and more than 500 million email addresses.

The New York Times reports that the data comes from more than 420,000 websites ranging from well known companies to smaller operations. Holden Security says it isn’t revealing the names of the sites right now because doing so could pose additional risks to users. The so-called “CyberVor” gang collected more than 4.5 billion records in all, 1.2 billion appearing to be unique. There are about 2.9 billion Internet users worldwide… so it’s very likely that you’ve been affected.

What Small Business Owners Should Know About TLDs

coolcatLet’s face it: it’s hard to stand out in the vast landscape of the Internet of today, especially when it comes to your web address. If your business (like most) was a little slow to the .com game, your URL might leave a lot to be desired. For years, the Internet has been limited to just 22 generic top-level domains like the familiar .com, .net, and .org. Besides country domains (such as .jp for Japan or .ca for Canada), general-purpose domain choices have been very narrow.

Google My Business: A New Tool for Local Businesses & Brands

Google-My-BusinessGoogle revealed a major update for small and local businesses with the introduction of Google My Business. The new service enables businesses to create a single dashboard from which to manage core Google marketing products.

Think rudimentary CRM platform: businesses will be able to easily update information across Google, from listings to map placements, from customer service to marketing outreach. The service will also make it easier than ever before to gain visibility within the Google ecosystem. Google describes the service as a “free and easy way to find and connect with your people, wherever you are”. Of course users will need a Google Account to gain access to the service.

Facebook to Unveil New Feature to Empower Small Business

facebook-logoFacebook announced Thursday it’s testing a new feature for small and medium-sized businesses across the country. The feature, for now called the ‘Buy’ button, will allow users to purchase products directly from their News Feed, permitting impulsive online shoppers to buy instantly from businesses’ Facebook pages, without being redirected to the merchant’s website or app.

The feature is currently being beta-ed amongst a very, very small group; a Facebook spokesman claimed less than five companies are currently testing the feature. Businesses can embed the Buy button on their Page post or in Facebook ads, the button will be available on both mobile and desktop versions of Facebook.

Apple & IBM Join Forces

appleIBMOn Tuesday, Apple announced an agreement with IBM that signals the tech giant’s occupation of the enterprise market. Utilizing each company’s respective strengths, the plan is to build business apps and professional software that matches the quality and simplicity of Apple’s consumer applications. Apple will sell its devices (which will come preloaded with newly developed enterprise software) to IBM’s corporate customers, and also provide on-site support. IBM plans to make more than 100,000 employees available for the Apple initiative, which will develop more than 100 new apps for various industries.





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