Spring has arrived, offering the perfect opportunity to review and refresh your safety practices. Telcom Insurance Group can help! Here we’ve provided some simple tips to protect both your business and its employees, so read on to learn more! 
Securing Backups: The Air Gapping Method

With companies looking for ways to better secure data and protect themselves from cyber hacks, securing backups has become more important than ever. During an interview with Matt Barrett, Chief Operating Officer with CyberESI, we discussed some best practices for backing up data in the telecommunication and broadband industry. One popular security measure being used today is “air gapping,” so we set out to discover more about it. 
Matt shared that air gapping is a cybersecurity technique used to isolate the backup from the internet or any other network. In short, it’s an effective method of physically disconnecting a system or data from any network to prevent unauthorized access. It could be a computer system with absolutely no network connections, a safe where you keep tapes or an external hard drive, or an off-site archive service.
It is common for attackers to disable backups before launching a ransomware attack. This increases their chances of a ransom being paid, per Matt Barrett. With air-gapping in place, it could potentially prevent the hacker from disabling the backups, allowing you to restore systems in the event of a ransomware attack.
Of course, there is still a risk. A large pile of air-gapped backup data could be misused, which does cause some risk and concern. For instance, backup tapes are subject to physical theft, which could possibly constitute a data breach. Controls are still very important in this circumstance, such as encryption, passwords, and careful monitoring of who has physical access to the secondary backups. Keep in mind that limiting access to backups is a vital security measure. 
One thing the experts see that is missing in backups is companies not testing their backups. Matt shared that a great habit is to test your backups annually or anytime you make a change to your procedures. If there is a new backup method used, it’s a good idea to test it.
As we all know, cyber-attacks happen. Even though you may be using the air gap technique that is not on any network for your backups, your other business such as email, etc., is more than likely on a network/server in which you do have exposure to a breach. Most underwriters today require you to have Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) in place for these exposures.

Telcom Insurance Group has partnered with CyberESI to support secure telecommunications. If you would like to discuss your cyber security with Matt Barrett, click the button below.
Personal Protective Equipment: Eye and Face Protection

In the second installation of our Contractor Safety series, we discussed high-viz reflective vests. To continue our series on safety, our experienced team will provide some helpful guidance on eye and face protection. Remember, the contractor is working for you – on your location. At the very least, they should be wearing what your employees are wearing – or should be wearing – while working on the same or similar task.

The main regulation on eye and face protection can be found in 29 CFR 1910.132 and .133. These two cover General Requirements and Eye and Face Protection. You might also find that you have employees and contractors engaging in other non-typical work such as welding, cutting, and brazing in the shop, which is covered under 29 CFR 1910.252 (b)(2).

We recommend always beginning with a PPE Hazard Assessment to understand what type of PPE your employees, and subsequently your contractors, should be wearing while working on your locations. To find more information on this, scan the QR code below:
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) lays the groundwork for the OSHA regulations that govern eye and face protection. While the ANSI codes are not official regulations, they do offer the guidance used by OSHA in writing the regulations. ANSI Z87.1-2020 is the most current iteration of this code, establishing side shield use and wrap around protection, impact resistant levels, etc. You can see this in action as safety glasses, goggles, face shields, etc., must list this ANSI code on the eye protection itself – either stamped or molded into the frame or inside of the top part of the lens in the form of Z87.
When you are evaluating your PPE program, deciding on purchasing eye protection, and conducting safety auditing of your employees and contractors, you must look for this lettering on the glasses themselves. It is common for an employee or contractor to purchase a decent looking, comfortable set of “safety” glasses or “sunglasses,” thinking they are protected, when the glasses purchased actually may not be safety tested or rated at all. So check for the Z87.  

While the ANSI code Z87 does cover machine operations, material handling, welding and cutting, chemical exposure and certain assembly practices, which telecommunications certainly falls under, do not forget there are other hazards our industry faces – such as lasers, via fiber optic light, microwave radiation, radio-frequency radiation, etc. that you will need to account for. See this linked table for Selecting Laser Safety Glasses found in 29 CFR 1926.102 (c)(2)(i). You can also scan this QR code and scroll down to see the two tables on filtering lenses and laser safety glasses selection.
Often the question arises about who pays for the PPE. According to OSHA, that would be the employer. If it is your employees, you pay. If it is the contractor employees, the contractor employer pays. It’s that simple! The reasoning behind OSHA’s thoughts is that employees might purchase the wrong type while the employer would still be liable. This way, the employer can maintain a bit more control and track service life, replacement times, and the proper purchases. Scratched lenses, chemical exposed lenses, cracked lenses, broken frames, etc., should obviously cause a PPE replacement.
If your job is to visit work locations, perform inspections, or conduct safety meetings, press the importance of eye safety. Carry some extra safety glasses with you in case you need to replace a set on the job. Those small gestures will go a long way to letting your employees know you care and that you are serious about their eye safety!
To learn more about PPE and keeping your team safe, contact us today!