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Ways To Secure Your Virtual Payment Terminal

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

With a virtual payment terminal, you can take payments over the internet. Not only will you boost sales, but you’ll also offer convenience to your customers. Your virtual payment terminal may be vulnerable to security risks, though, so follow several tips as you reduce liability and protect your customers and business.

What is a Virtual Payment Terminal?

Your virtual payment terminal allows you to accept credit card payments without using a credit card terminal. Simply log into the virtual terminal website from your device, enter the sales amount and key in the credit card information. You’ll then receive authorization if the sale is approved and can print or email the receipt.

After each sale or when it’s convenient for you, check the transaction history to see details about your sales and processing activity. The terminal also includes performance data and financial reports, and you can adjust the admin settings.

With your virtual payment terminal, you can accept payments anywhere. You’ll also save money with lower processing fees and increased opportunities to make sales.

Security Tips for Your Virtual Payment Terminal

Your virtual payment terminal offers convenience and can boost sales, but you must secure it. You will be liable if your actions compromise a customer’s credit card number or if fraud occurs to your account.

  • Never store customer payment information. Use credit card data to make the sale, but never make or store a copy of the card number or other details.
  • Use a PCI-compliant virtual payment terminal provider.
  • Utilize fraud filters that identify potential fraud and help you respond properly.
  • Partner with a provider that uses Point-to-Point encryption.
  • Implement tokenization. It replaces data with a token and inhibits hackers.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi connections that are often unsecure.
  • Follow all the security protocols mandated by your virtual payment terminal provider. These protocols may include annual PCI compliance training or software updates as you protect your customers’ data and company.
  • Limit login access. Only authorized employees should be able to log into your virtual payment terminal as you prevent unauthorized transactions or other information compromises.
  • Log out after each transaction or when you need to walk away from your device. This step prevents someone from accessing the terminal and information between sales.
  • Secure the computers, smartphones and tablets you use to access your virtual payment terminal. If possible, use devices that require a pin or use fingerprint or face recognition, and store these devices in a secure location.

Your business benefits from a virtual payment terminal. Secure it as you limit your liability and protect customers and your company.

Avoid Computer Eye Strain

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

Employees who work all day at a computer are at risk for eyestrain. To help your workers protect themselves, we recommend that they follow these basic precautions.

  • Look away from the monitor for 30 seconds, every 15 or 20 minutes. Look at or scan things at least 20 feet away to allow your eyes to focus in a rest position.
  • Reposition the monitor 20” to 26” from your eyes (roughly the distance from your eyes to the end of your index finger with arm outstretched). Otherwise, you’ll be forced to sit or lean too close to the screen, or sit too far away. If your eyeglass prescription doesn’t allow clear vision at the 20” to 26” range, get it adjusted.

Reset monitor height so that the top edge is even with your view when looking straight ahead. Then tilt the screen upward so that you’re not looking at the image at an angle. The optimal screen position is 10 to 20 degrees below eye level.

  • Reset the monitor screen resolution, the Internet browser text size, and the zoom and font default in the operating system and in software applications so that text is easy to read. Start with a screen resolution of 800×600 for older CRT monitors and 1024×768 or higher for LCD (flat screen) monitors. Set the monitor refresh rate at or above 75 hertz (Hz) on older CRT models. Refresh rate is irrelevant for LCD monitors and is factory set, usually 60 Hz.
  • Blink often (put a sticky note on your monitor!). The average blink rate is 22 times per minute. The rate goes down to seven per minute when looking at a monitor – which causes the eye lens to dry out. If you can’t get into the habit of blinking more often, use an eye moistener (saline solution).
  • Relax your eye muscles. Put the palm of your hands over your eyes for a minute or so, once every half hour. This warms the muscles around the eyes, relaxing them.
  • Minimize glare. Make sure the background light level around the monitor is about the same as the screen light level. Minimize direct sunlight or bright lights in front of the monitor or directly behind it.
  • Adjust the contrast and brightness to levels you use when reading a book comfortably. A bright screen causes eyestrain.
    Use a paper holder to hold documents. Put the document at the same level as the monitor, or attach it to the monitor. This prevents repetitive neck and eye movement from paper to screen.

What You Need To Know About Employee Sick Leave

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

Federal laws may not mandate that your employer gives you sick leave, but some statesrequire it, and individual employers may offer this benefit as part of a comprehensive benefits package. Learn more about this valuable benefit as you maximize your employee sick leave.

What is Employee Sick Leave?

If you’re ill or injured, you can’t perform to the best of your ability and may compromise safety. For these reasons, some employers offer paid or unpaid time off work so you can seek medical treatment or rest and recover.

To accumulate sick leave, you may first need to work a certain number of hours or achieve a certain level in the company. You may lose unused sick leave time at the end of the year or roll it over to the next year. Sometimes, employees also reimburse you for any sick time you don’t use.

Reasons to use Your Employee Sick Leave

Depending on your employer, you may be restricted and only allowed to take sick leave if you’re ill or injured. Other employers offer paid leave if you need to care for sick children or nurture your mental health. Also, some employees lump sick leave in with your personal or vacation days, allowing you to use your time for whatever you want.

Remember that sick leave is different from Workers’ Compensation. If your illness or injury occurred because of a work-related task, file a Workers’ Compensation claim.

Options if you Need More Time Off

Even if your employer doesn’t offer sick leave, you do have options if you must take time off work for an illness or injury.

  • Take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You could receive up to 12 weeks off to care for yourself or a family member who faces an illness or another medical emergency.
  • Check to see if you have disability leave, particularly if you need to take an extended time off work.
  • Ask your employer if you can take unpaid leave until you feel well enough to return to work.

Where to Find Details About Your Sick Leave Benefits

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) requires all employers to prepare a description of their specific employment practices and policies. This written or posted description includes details about your sick leave, paid vacations, personal days, holidays, bonuses, severance pay and other benefits. Review your employer’s policy to verify the type of benefits you’re eligible to receive and details about how to request that time off.

The next time you’re too sick or injured to go to work, take a sick day. It’s a valuable benefit your employer may offer.

Can You Get Time Off Work And A Paycheck For Jury Duty?

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

United States citizens who receive a summons for jury duty must report to the courthouse and perform their civic duty. Your jury duty responsibilities could require anywhere from several hours to several months off work, though. What happens to your job and paycheck while you serve on a jury? Learn more about laws and your employer’s jury duty selection policy that affect your ability to get time off work and receive a paycheck when you’re called for jury duty.

Verify Your State’s Laws

The U.S. Department of Labor allows states to determine if jurors can receive time off work. Most states have established time off and paycheck guidelines employers must follow when an employee receives a jury duty summons, so verify your state’s specific jury duty leave laws.

In general, many states require employers to provide employees with time off work for jury duty. Some states also allow employers to offer different levels of time off based on the company’s industry and location and the employee’s job title.

Additionally, state laws determine if employers must pay employees who serve on a jury. The law may allow employers to provide unpaid leave or deduct jury pay from the employee’s paycheck. In most cases, though, employers cannot cut benefits, including insurance coverage and vacation time accrual, while employees serve on a jury.

Review Your Employer’s Jury Duty Selection Policy

Many companies include a jury duty selection policy in the employee handbook. It outlines time off and pay details for employees who receive a jury duty summons, so review the policy and follow it as you arrange for your jury duty service.

Keep in mind that federal law protects employees while they serve on jury duty. Employers may not discourage employees from serving or terminate, demote, harass, threaten or coerce an employee who reports for jury duty.

Steps to Take When you Receive a Jury Duty Summons

As soon as you receive a jury duty summons, notify your employer. Early notification gives your supervisor time to find coverage for your duties or time to write a letter and ask the court to postpone your jury duty date, which may be beneficial if you’re an essential employee or are involved in a major project.

You will also want to discuss your summons with the Human Resources department and review your employer’s jury duty selection policy. Your employer may require you to show proof of your summons before they grant you leave or pay.

Jury duty remains a privilege and responsibility for Americans but can disrupt your job. Understand your rights under state law and your employer’s jury duty selection policy as you perform your civic duty.

Tips To Write A Construction Site-Specific Safety Plan

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

As a general contractor or subcontractor, you prioritize safety on every job site. A site-specific safety plan (SSSP) is one document you must have to fulfill OSHA requirements and establish guidelines that protect everyone who works on the project.

Consider these tips for writing a thorough site-specific safety plan.

Write a Unique SSSP for Each Job

Each construction project you perform will require a unique SSSP, so don’t recycle SSSPs from past jobs. Write a new SSSP that addresses specific challenges for each project.

Cover All Your Bases

In general, an SSSP will be thorough for each project and cover a variety of areas, including:

  • Job hazard analysis
  • Safety chain of command and related roles and responsibilities
  • Methods for managing tiered subcontractors
  • Hazard communications
  • Training qualifications
  • Daily safety huddles
  • Methods of work procedure
  • Disciplinary action plan
  • Incident response plan
  • Crisis plan
  • Housekeeping plan
  • Fall protection plan
  • Equipment crane plan

Address each of these areas, if applicable, in your SSSP.

Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Whether you’re the GM or a subcontract on the job site, include the roles and responsibilities in your SSSP. This section identifies and names the project manager, emergency contact person and competent person and the responsibilities these key personnel will take for the major safety components on the job site each day.

Create a Thorough Incident Response Plan

Despite your best efforts, accidents can happen on any job site. The incident response plan outlines the steps your contractors should take if someone suffers an injury, property gets damaged or equipment breaks. Most incident response plans require investigation forms, witness statements, at least one post-incident meeting and drug and alcohol testing for involved employees.

Specify Required Training

Your SSSP will include documents that prove that each worker on the job site has professional training for their job. You may require certification proof or another document as you ensure the competence of each worker to perform his or her job properly and safely.

Update the Job Hazard Analysis as Needed

The job hazard analysis (JHA) should include the project’s tasks, hazards and safety controls. It must be detailed and cover all aspects of the project from start to finish. You will update the JHA as your project progresses, and the daily huddles can supplement the JHA since you can list the day’s hazards and controls on the daily report form.

On your construction site, you face multiple hazards each day. Write a site-specific safety plan that addresses hazards and outlines safety procedures. For more information on what to include in a SSSP and how to ensure safety, talk to your insurance agent.

Winter Safety Tips For Construction Workers

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

Winter weather still rages strong in many parts of the United States in February, and you must continue to remain vigilant as you promote safety on the construction site.

Whether you’re a veteran construction worker or new to the industry, follow these winter safety tips.

Track the Weather Forecast

Know the weather forecast so you can decide if it’s safe to work outdoors. Check your local weather center and the National Weather Service for accurate temperature and storm information and predictions.

Wear the Right Gear

Multiple clothing layers can be bulky, yet the right gear also keeps you warm, dry and safe as it protects you from hypothermia or frostbite. Start by wearing layers of clothing that manage moisture, protect you from the cold and shield you from the elements. Then add heavy gloves, a hat and sturdy nonslip shoes for added safety.

Check the Work Site

Every morning, spend a few minutes evaluating the work site for hazards. You may need to remove accumulated ice and snow, trim broken tree branches or set up portable heaters. Remember to spread salt, cat litter or sand on the exposed surfaces, too, as you create a safe job site.

Secure a Warm Break Area

Plan to take your breaks in a warm area as you limit exposure and stay safe. Set up a heated tent or trailer or arrange for another warm indoor area near the job site where you can get warm during your work breaks.

Limit Outdoor Exposure

You may be required to work outdoors when temperatures plummet, winds blow and snow falls, but certain conditions make outdoor work dangerous. Try to work indoors during the worst winter weather, work during the warm parts of the day, break large jobs into small tasks or schedule frequent breaks in warm indoor locations so you can stay safe.

Skip the Coffee

Coffee will keep your hands warm, but it also contains caffeine. This chemical can make your heart rate rise, which gives you a false feeling of warmth and can cause you to take unnecessary risks. Drink water instead of coffee as you stay hydrated.

Know the Signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite

You and all your co-workers should know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite, two dangers of outdoor exposure, and the procedure getting medical attention quickly if necessary. Those signs include:

  • Prickling skin
  • Numbness
  • Changes in skin color
  • Clumsiness
  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Weak pulse
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion

This winter, take several steps to maintain safety on the construction job site. You should also talk to your insurance agent. Update your liability coverage and learn additional tips that keep you safe all winter.

Drug Testing Policy Details For Your Construction Independent Contractors

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

The construction industry relies on independent contractors who perform specialized services like plumbing, painting and drywall installation. To prioritize safety on the job site and ensure quality work, consider implementing a drug testing policy for the independent contractors you hire.

Benefits of Drug Testing

Regular drug testing promotes safety on the job site. Additionally, it improves productivity and quality of work, lowers absenteeism and boosts morale.

Your company also builds your reputation when you implement drug testing for your independent contractors. In certain cases, you can lose contracts and be blacklisted from jobs if your independent contractors work while they’re visibly high or otherwise produce shoddy work because of drug use. Protect your business and reputation when you implement a drug testing policy.

Prepare a Contract

When you work with an independent contractor, you both typically sign a contract that outlines the exact project, timeline and pay rate. Include your drug testing policy in this contract.

Consult your specific state’s laws regarding drug testing as you prepare the contract. Check with your construction insurance agent for details on any drug testing protocols they require, too.

Typically, you may perform a drug test on every new independent contractor and after an accident when you suspect drug use was involved. You may also choose to perform random drug testing if you have reasonable suspicion of drug use, which includes:

  • Direct observation of drug use or associated symptoms such as uncoordinated movements, slurred speech or erratic behavior.
  • Reports from reliable sources that the independent contractor is using drugs.
  • Evidence of tampering with drug test results.

The independent contractors who apply to work for you must agree to your drug testing policy. You are then responsible to enforce it equally for all employees.

Select a Drug Testing Company

Most drug testing occurs in an independent third-party facility that’s certified by the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA). You will schedule the appointment, and the independent contractor is responsible to drive to the facility where he or she will provide a urine sample. You receive test results in several hours or several days depending on the facility and results.

Address the Test Results

If the independent contractor tests positive for drugs or refuses to take the test, you must perform disciplinary action, which can include dismissal. Exceptions include a positive test for prescribed medications that the employee reported and takes responsibly. Outline your dismissal procedure in the employment contract to reduce surprises and liability for improper discipline.

As a construction professional, you must maintain safety and quality on the job site. Drug testing can help, so create a specific drug testing policy for your independent contractors.

Benefits And Details Of Professional Liability Insurance For Contractors

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

A project architect or engineer typically carries responsibility for the design of a house, high rise or other structure. However, contractors now also play a role in project design and may be liable if something goes wrong. Consider the benefits of purchasing professional liability insurance and the process for gaining this valuable coverage for your contractor business.

What is Professional Liability Insurance?

Contractors like you already purchase general liability insurance. It protects you if the actions of you or an employee cause bodily injury or property damage on the job. Professional liability insurance adds another layer of protection. It covers negligence and design errors that may occur as you take on a variety of job site responsibilities.

Contractor’s Professional Risk Exposure

In today’s construction projects, contractors may do more than build the design that’s created by an architect or engineer. For example, you may be responsible for hiring a design firm, designing certain aspects of the project or altering a current design to incorporate more functional features. In addition to the design responsibilities, you may assume professional liability risks because you hire independent contractors, estimate costs for a project and schedule projects.

Why Purchase Professional Liability Insurance

The numerous tasks you perform as a contractor carry liability risks, and you face a variety of situations for which you are responsible.

  • Design errors and omissions
  • Time delays
  • Budget overruns
  • Required rework
  • Third-party bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Pollution damage

To cover these liabilities, you could pay the associated costs out of pocket or purchase professional liability insurance. This policy can take care of your financial responsibility, offer a layer of protection and reduce risks that jeopardize your company now and into the future.

How to Purchase Professional Liability Insurance

Contractors who need professional liability insurance may purchase it in several ways.

  • Add an endorsement to an existing general liability or umbrella policy.
  • Purchase a stand-alone policy.
  • Select a separate project policy.

To decide which option is right for your company, consider the types of projects you do, your financial status and your budget. Individual project contracts may also include details about the type of liability coverage you must purchase. Talk to your insurance agent, too, to verify the availability of the coverage you need and want.

Based on your specific business, duties and job responsibilities, you may need to purchase professional liability insurance for a specific project or as a permanent addition to your contractor company. Talk to your insurance agent about your needs as you ensure you have the right protection for your business.

Car Seat Safety Tips For Your Growing Family

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Safety remains your first priority as a parent. Whether you have one or a dozen kids, follow several car seat safety tips and protect your growing family.

Use a Rear-Facing Seat for as Long as Possible

Infants always sit in a rear-facing car seat to protect their legs, spine and brain. However, even after your child grows into a convertible seat, keep him facing backward until he’s at least two years old for maximum safety.

Ensure Safety in Front-Facing Seats

When you decide to place your child in a front-facing car seat, utilize a tether strap. It secures to your vehicle’s top tether anchor, available in most vehicles sold in the U.S. since 2000, and decreases your child’s head movement during a crash.

Tighten Straps

Secure harness straps protect kids and won’t cause pain. To ensure the straps are tight enough, check them before each trip. Only one finger should fit under the harness by your child’s collarbone.

Ask a Technician to Check Installation

certified installation technician can ensure the proper installation of your car seat. Schedule a free check every time you install a new seat or move the car seat to a different vehicle.

Use a Booster Seat Properly

To use a booster seat, your child should be at least four years old, weigh 40 pounds and sit without slouching or playing with the seat belt. Even if your child is not mature enough for a booster seat until he’s six, that’s okay because you want your child to be safe.

Alternatively, keep your child in a booster seat until she can sit in the regular seat with the lap belt resting across her lower hips, even if that doesn’t happen until she’s 12 years old.

Track the Car Seat’s Expiration Date

The plastic material in a car seat becomes brittle over time, so car seats include an expiration date. Whether you use the car seat for one or multiple kids, know its expiration date and retire your car seat on time.

Replace the Car Seat After an Accident

After an accident, a car seat absorbs force from the crash. Typically, it must be replaced, but you can check your car seat’s manufacturer for details.

Beware of Used Car Seats

Unless you’re 100 percent certain about the car seat’s history, don’t purchase or use a used car seat. Your child’s safety must remain your first priority regardless of the financial cost.

Car seat safety protects your child, so follow these tips as you install and use your car seat properly. For additional tips on car seat and overall driving safety, contact your auto insurance agent.

Winter Auto Maintenance Tips That Improve Safety And Reduce Accidents

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Winter is almost over, but a variety of risks affect your safety as you drive. This month, perform a maintenance check on your vehicle as you improve safety and reduce accidents.

Tires

Improve traction on slippery, snowy and cold surfaces with maintained tires. Check the tread, and inflate the tires based on manufacturer’s recommendations.

Brakes

While you want to drive cautiously in winter weather, you also need a quality brake system. Check the entire system and replace worn parts as you ensure your vehicle’s brakes operate efficiently.

Battery

Cold weather can compromise your vehicle’s battery performance. Volt test the battery to verify that it’s working properly, and check the connections. If your battery is weak or older than three years, replace it and prevent the chances of being stranded in cold weather.

Fluids

Numerous fluids protect your vehicle and help it operate properly despite plummeting temperatures.

  • Gasoline – Keep the gas tank full to prevent the fuel pump from freezing and to help you stay warm if you’re stranded.
  • Oil – A low-viscosity oil flows easily through your engine. Check the oil level, too, to keep your vehicle operating properly.
  • Coolant –  Fill the coolant reservoir with a solution of 50/50 antifreeze and water, and inspect the engine for leaks to ensure your engine doesn’t freeze.
  • Washer Fluid – Top off the washer fluid so you can remove debris and slush and see properly as you drive.

Lights and Wipers

Daylight may last longer now, but your visibility can decrease when you drive at night or during storms. Replace broken light bulbs, restore foggy or yellowed headlights and replace wipers if necessary.

Defroster and Climate Control

To keep your windows clear of snow, ice or fog and to keep you and your passengers warm, check your vehicle’s defroster and climate control system. If you notice anything wrong with the performance of these essential features, visit your mechanic for a repair.

Survival Kit

A survival kit could save your life if you become stuck in snow or are involved in an accident. Check your survival kit now and replenish any items you may have used previously this season. Essential gear includes:

  • Shovel, de-icer and cat litter or sand
  • Blankets, gloves, hats, extra socks and heavy boots
  • First aid kit
  • Knife and waterproof matches
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Cellphone charger
  • Snacks and water

Maintaining your vehicle this winter can improve your safety and reduce accidents. In addition to vehicle maintenance, talk to your insurance agent. Update your auto insurance policy to ensure it covers accidents, and discover additional ways to improve safety as you drive this winter.