Time To Evaluate Your Cybersecurity

Did you know that October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM)? This annual designation seeks to forge a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about maintaining and enhancing cybersecurity and ensuring that American businesses and individuals have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.

Now in its 17th year, NCSAM encourages individuals and organizations to take a greater role in protecting their piece of cyberspace, becoming more personally accountable (did you know that 90 percent of phishing breaches are human error and avoidable?) and understanding the necessity of being proactive with cyber security.

Florida Safety Council President David Fullerton is a VP at Allied Media, a digital security company, and he offers the following list of indicators that should serve as a warning sign that it's time to ramp up your digital protection:

  1. You probably won’t get one, but a ransomware message, asking you to pay or they will give out your information in return. This happens with corporations more than individuals.
  2. You get a fake antivirus message. Not usually seen.
  3. Your internet searches are redirected and not what you asked for. This could be taking you to the hacker so he can find out information.
  4. Popups should be deleted if they are not related to you.
  5. Your friends received social media invitations from you that you didn’t send.
  6. Your online password does not appear to be working but really is so the hackers can see your new password.
  7. Your online account is missing money.
  8. Confidential data has been leaked.
  9. Your credentials are in a password dump
  10. You receive strange network traffic patterns; not your normal way of doing things or being redirected.
  11. You receive and/or observe unexpected software installs.
  12. Your mouse moves between programs and makes selections on its own.

The government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) notes that cybersecurity can be improved if computer users follow four simple protocols:

  • Think Before You Click: Recognize and Report Phishing: If a link looks a little off, think before you click. It could be an attempt to get sensitive information or install malware. 
  • Update Your Software: Don't delay -- If you see a software update notification, act promptly. Better yet, turn on automatic updates.
  • Use Strong Passwords: Use passwords that are long, unique, and randomly generated. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts. A passwords manager will encrypt passwords securing them for you!
  • Enable Multi-Factor Authentication: You need more than a password to protect your online accounts, and enabling MFA makes you significantly less likely to get hacked.

If you've experienced any of the 12 incidents outlined by Fullerton, it's probably time to consult a professional. To find out more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, go to CISA's website at Cybersecurity Awareness Month | CISA. To find out what Allied Media can do for you, go to https://www.alliedmedia.com.

Can OSHA's VPP Make Your Company Safer?

People love to challenge themselves, whether it's a battle of wits against a worthy opponent or a "personal best" effort in exercise, sports or gaming. We are always seeking ways to test our mettle and improve the outcome.

OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) allows you to do just that with your company's safety record and programming.

Leigh Jackson, Region IV VPP manager, told The Florida Safety Council that this program is designed to promote and maintain effective workplace safety and health initiatives in a cooperative manner.

"In the VPP, management, labor, and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces with comprehensive safety and health management system. Approval into VPP is OSHA’s official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health," she explained.

Jackson noted that the VPP sets performance-based criteria for a managed safety and health system, invites sites to apply, and then assesses applicants against these criteria. The verification process features an application review and a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.

She added that the VPP application process also includes signed VPP Assurances from the applicant site, where they agree that any hazards noted by the VPP team will be corrected within 90 days.

 A Chance to Correct Deficiencies

"Any VPP application with 'safety deficiencies' would not be accepted and returned to the site so that they could correct them. But, once the site corrects them, then they can reapply as long as they meet all the VPP criteria," Jackson explained.

Statistical evidence for VPP’s success is impressive. The average VPP worksite has a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) case rate of 52% below the average for its industry. These sites typically do not start out with such low rates. Reductions in injuries and illnesses begin when the site commits to the VPP approach to safety and health management and the challenging VPP application process.

Jackson notes that it is a win-win for everyone. Employers benefit from fewer injuries and illnesses, which mean greater profits as workers’ compensation premiums and other costs plummet. She added that entire industries benefit as VPP sites begin to set the standard of excellence, industry-wide.

Likewise, OSHA gains a corps of ambassadors enthusiastically spreading the message of better safety and health system management. These partners also provide OSHA with valuable input and can augment its limited resources.

Another benefit to OSHA, Jackson says, is a safety and health advocacy group that grew out of VPP member ranks, the Voluntary Protection Program Participants’ Association (VPPPA). The VPPPA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1985. As part of its efforts to share the benefits of cooperative programs, the VPPPA works closely with OSHA and State Plan States to develop and implement cooperative programs.

If your business is located in Region IV (which includes all of Florida) and you are interested in applying for, or knowing more about, the program, contact Jackson at jackson.leigh@dol.gov.or call her at 678-237-0436. 

Join Today And Save On Safety Classes!

The Florida Safety Council 2022 membership structure allows for individual, small business and corporate memberships.

If you thought you couldn't afford to join and take advantage of the great discounts and services offered to members, think again! Our Corporate rate is $399, a Small Business rate is $199 and our INDIVIDUAL rate is only $50! The individual rate gives you the same great discounts and services, but just for one person (not transferrable to other employees.) Whatever level you join at, the discounts received from just one training class will likely completely offset the cost of membership -- and, the more training you need, the more savings you get! You can also join with no fuss and no muss on-line, just by clicking this LINK. If you have questions about memberships, training or other Safety Council benefits, contact the Director of Marketing & Business Development, Tara Dixon Engel, at Tengel@floridasafety.org.


OCT 18 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Basic First Aid, CPR and AED - Orlando

OCT 19 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - MOT: Advanced Refresher - Virtual

OCT 24-28 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - COSS - Virtual

OCT. 24-25 - 8 a.m.-5 p.m. MOT Intermediate - Orlando

OCT 25-26 - 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. - MOT Intermediate - Tampa 

NOV 7, NOV 8, NOV 21, NOV 22, NOV 28 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - COSM - Virtual

NOV 14-18 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - COSS - Orlando

NOV 14-18 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - COSS - Virtual

NOV 16 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - MOT Intermediate Refresher - Orlando

NOV 17-18 - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - MOT Intermediate - Orlando

NOV 17 - 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Forklift Train-the-Trainer - Orlando

NOV 18 - 9 a.m - 5 p.m. - Forklift Train-the-Trainer - Tampa

Is there a particular you class you need but you don't see on our web site? Just ask! Would you like us to come to your facility and train your people? NO problem! The classes listed above are simply open enrollment (i.e. anyone can sign up - assuming any prerequisites are met). But we can work with your company to schedule whatever you need. Just reach out to Carol Freeman at Cfreeman@floridasafety.org or Tara Engel at Tengel@floridasafety.org.

Safety Events Around Town

Safety Day at The Rosen

If you are a safety professional in the state of Florida, mark your calendar for Safety Day, October 27, 2022. Hosted by the Alliance for Central Florida Safety, the event takes place at The Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando and includes a vast array of vendors, classes and information, all for the low registration fee of only $30. The Florida Safety Council is proud to be a sponsor. To register or find out more, please click the following link: Home (acfs.org)

Ed Maurer Always

Ready to 'Stand and Deliver' in Classroom

If you are taking an OSHA 500 level course from The Florida Safety Council (FSC), you may see Ed Maurer standing congenially at the head of the classroom, eager to share some of the health and safety knowledge he has amassed across a lengthy and eventful career.

Maurer's robust resume includes military service as an Air Force Master Sergeant, management of Industrial Hygiene programs for multiple government installations, and the creation of numerous occupational safety & health training programs, books and materials.

A Familiar Face

While Maurer is a new instructor at FSC, he is hardly new to the industry. He worked for a Safety Council competitor for several years and eventually started his own Safety company, Worker Safety Net, politely declining several offers from FSC to instruct full-time for us.

"That would have meant moving and I wasn't excited about doing that," he noted.

But when FSC Executive Director Chris Earl offered him the opportunity to teach near his home on the West Coast, that offer was hard to refuse. 

"My 'career goal', so to speak, was always to do less field work and just teach; figuring that, as long as I could draw a breath, I could work, " he explains, "So, here I am."

But Maurer does a lot more than just draw breath in the classroom; he prides himself on interesting content and lively student-teacher exchanges.

"I enjoy what I do and enjoy helping others learn important information and procedures. I’m also physically active in the classroom, which keeps the students -- and me -- engaged," the instructor says. 

He adds that commanding the attention of a class filled with adult learners comes from effective communication versus a dictatorial presence. "We are instructors, not rulers," he grins.

A Change of Focus

Maurer cites boredom and bad weather as two catalysts for his career transition to Occupational Health & Safety. 

"I was an Air Force helicopter mechanic and, frankly, was bored. I had the opportunity to get away from having to live and work outside in bad weather doing a job I no longer found challenging," Maurer says. "I had a civilian background as a medical lab technician, so working in the industrial hygiene field was good job that I knew would continue to challenge me."

The career shift led him into many new directions and challenges, giving him the opportunity to change lives along the way.

Maurer has had many professional achievements that make him proud but one that jumped to mind involved a man working with solvents in an Air Force repair shop.

"During an inspection he approached me looking for help," the instructor recalls. "The solvents he used had caused the palms of his hands to delaminate like cheap plywood left out in the rain. I researched the proper gloves and required his shop to begin using them. I saw him again about six months later when he actually stopped by my house while I was in the yard to show me his now healed, perfect hands."

Maurer pays close attention to changes in the safety industry and improvements to both techniques and equipment. He points to the evolution of chemical sample equipment as one example of how research and development has benefitted the safety process. 

"What I once had to use -- very expensive, heavy and somewhat fragile analytical equipment -- has been replaced by smaller, hand-held devices that can provide immediate answers," he says.

And his consultative relationship with a variety of companies, large and small, has made him acutely aware of the intentional and unintentional missteps employers sometimes take when it comes to implementing and/or managing an internal safety program. 

Maintain Awareness

"The best thing I can tell you is to always maintain 'situational awareness,' be aware of the workplace and its challenges, and be proactive to prevent incidents before they occur. Once that horse is out of the barn, it’s too late."

But the worst mistake employers make, he affirms, is believing that “'it hasn’t happened yet', means it never will. It will."

In addition to his OSHA 500 courses, Maurer is certified to teach Confined Space in Construction, Forklift, HazCom, Lock-out/Tag-out, Machine Guarding, Walking & Working Surfaces, OSHA 10- and 30-hour, and many more.

The instructor has captured his years of accumulated knowledge and experience across a range of safety concerns in a series of informational books, which are available on his Worker Safety Net website: Worker Safety Net Library — Worker Safety Net

To find out more about Maurer's classes at The Florida Safety Council or to register for one, please contact Carol Freeman, Director of Occupational Safety, at CFreeman@floridasafety.org or call 407-897-4443.

Free Driver's Training for Your Teen? It's a Reality for Families in Polk, Orange Counties

No matter how much you focus on safety at work, if you are a parent, one of your primary safety concerns will always be the well-being of your children. And that parental awareness and anxiety is always at its zenith when the kids begin driving. Making sure they have a great driver’s ed class, with live, behind-the-wheel time from qualified instructors is one way to build peace of mind.

Did you know that, if you live in Polk or Orange Counties, that peace of mind is FREE? Your young driver is eligible for classes through the Florida Virtual School (Online Driver Education Traffic Safety Course - FLVS) and, then, hands-on, behind-the-wheel training from The Florida Safety Council (FSC).

The FLVS virtual class covers topics such as real-world driving knowledge with simulated driving activities, how to read traffic signs and understand the laws of the road, safe driving techniques and skills, and driving on different types of roads and in varying weather conditions.

Hands-on, Real World Training

The FSC lessons, which include six hours of driving in real traffic, features risk recognition training and crash avoidance skills in addition to giving students experience on residential, rural, highway, multi-lane and intersection driving situations.

Interested parents can sign their children up by going to the FLVS site highlighted above and registering. Once your child completes the on-line portion, they are eligible to begin hands-on training with an FSC professional instructor.

The funded classes are made possible by the Dori Slosberg Driver Education Safety Act, which allows each Florida county to collect $5 from every driving citation issued to be used to fund driver education programs in public and nonpublic schools. In Polk and Orange Counties, the decision was made to partner with FLVS and the Safety Council in order to make certain every child has the opportunity to attend a quality driver’s ed program.

The Act, and its accompanying Dori Slosberg Foundation, are named in memory of the daughter of former State Representative Irving “Irv” Slosberg, whose life tragically ended when the car she was riding in crashed while she was unbuckled. Dori and four other girls were killed in the crash. Maribel Farinas was left a quadriplegic, and Emily Slosberg, Dori’s twin sister, survived.

As a parent, your family's safety is never far from your mind. The funds made possible by the Dori Slosberg Act, and the partnership between Florida Virtual Schools and the Florida Safety Council can help moderate some of those concerns, without taking a chunk out of your wallet. To find out more, you can also click here: Florida Virtual Schools Driving Lessons (floridasafetycouncil.org)

Message from the Executive Director

Christopher Earl

The Scariest Part of Halloween is NOT

the Ghosts, Ghouls, Goblins and Zombies

Not only is Halloween a fun holiday for kids, it also gives adults the rare opportunity to indulge in a little childish whimsy. Whether you're hosting a party, attending a party or just doling out candy to exuberant trick-or-treaters, All Hallow's Eve is rich in tradition, fantasy and fun. 

Unfortunately, it is also rich in safety hazards...hazards for your kids, your pets, your home, your business and your personal well-being. 

Startling Stats

Statistics gathered from The National Safety Council, insurance companies, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, among others, demonstrate that Halloween carries an array of very real dangers that far outweigh the imagined threats posed by werewolves, vampires and witches.

If you are planning to be out and about this October 31st, please remember that burglaries jump by 26% on Halloween, so make sure your home is protected if you are not there to do so. Likewise, evening violent crime shoots up by 50% -- keep your eyes open and steer clear of areas that are already less-than-safe. Car thefts increase by 20% and, perhaps saddest of all, children between the ages of 4 and 14 are FOUR times more likely to be killed on Halloween (or on Beggar's Night, whenever it falls) than at any other time of year. 

Of course we are all familiar with the horror stories of Halloween candy that has been adulterated with razor blades, syringes, rat poison and other, less lethal but equally alarming mischief, such as substituting chocolate laxatives for real candy. But this year the ante has been upped by the influx of "candy colored" fentanyl pills, some of which are even being packaged with popular candy brand names.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram explains that “rainbow fentanyl—fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes—is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction among kids and young adults.

Thus it becomes critically important that a responsible adult inspect ALL trick-or-treat candy before it gets shoved into little mouths.

Although it is unlikely that Fentanyl could kill on contact, an ingested dose just the size of a grain or two of table salt can be lethal, especially in small children.  

Additionally, Halloween is a stressful night for your pets. Not only are they more likely to be stolen (and perhaps tortured) on Halloween, but it is another one of those holidays -- like the Fourth of July -- that features sights and sounds beyond an animal's understanding. The ghostly howls and cackles echoing from the house across the street, and the stampede of wildly dressed little people onto your property, is just the kind of spooky fun we humans thrive on, but it can traumatize our pets. If you live in a neighborhood that embraces the spirit of Halloween enthusiastically, it may be a good idea to secure your pets in a comfortable, private place for the evening. This will not only prevent them from escaping as you open your door to trick-or-treaters but it will also save some wear and tear on their nerves as they try to decipher what is or isn't a threat to their pack or family unit.

Securing Solutions

I could continue this list of Halloween threats, if I haven't scared the bejeebers out of you already, but The Florida Safety Council is all about finding solutions instead of just identifying problems. The article that follows this column offers a great checklist of ways to protect your home, your business, your children, your pets and yourself so that Halloween 2022 can be exactly what it's supposed to be: a night of mystery, innocent mischief, youthful excitement and just plain fun!

Happy Halloween! 

Make Sure Your Halloween is All Treats, No

Tricks With These Simple Safety Measures

If you read the Director's message for October (above), you already know that criminal activity, accidents, and trouble-making all spike sharply with the arrival of Halloween.

Short of locking your doors and hiding in the closet until the clock tolls midnight -- harkening the arrival of All Saint's Day, November 1 -- what can you do in order to enjoy the merriment of All Hallow's Eve and stay safe while doing so?

The Florida Safety Council has gathered a series of tips for navigating this fun and fearful holiday. Some are time-honored admonitions, dating back to the earliest days of trick-or-treating in the United States. Others are necessary to combat threats specific to life in the 21st century.

We've broken our tips into several handy categories:

Your Children

  • Fire retardant costumes are necessary; nothing that could trail across a lighted pumpkin and burst into flame. 
  • Dark costumes, like the traditional witches' garb, cannot be seen by drivers after nightfall. Make sure any dark costumes have reflective tape and that your youngster is carrying a glo stick, flashlight or other illumination.
  • Caution your children to NEVER go into a home to retrieve candy and to resist the urge to sample their candy before getting home (where an adult can check it). 
  • As always, no talking to strangers and no getting into cars.
  • Have your children travel with a group of other kids; if there are older children, make sure they are prepared to watch out for the little ones. Better yet, tag along (at a discrete distance so the kids can enjoy the experience, but close enough to know where they are and what they are doing.)
  • Make sure shoes are tied (or, preferably, velcroed) and a begging route is planned in advance. Stick with neighborhoods you know and homes that are familiar to you and your child, and caution the child to stay on sidewalks or designated walkways.
  • If your child is begging without you, give him/her a set time to be home. If your child is old enough and does not yet have his/her own phone, it might be wise to secure one of the family phones on his/her person, with a pre-programmed number to call in the event of a problem or delay.  
  • Consider a "dry run" the night before, where you and your children drive the neighborhood they will be walking on Beggars' Night. Identify any problem areas and discuss solutions together in advance.

Your Home

  • There is still time to get a security system or one of the popular video doorbell models if you don't plan to be home on Halloween. You can secure one inexpensively and it will give you peace of mind on Halloween night and well beyond. 
  • If you plan to be home but not participating in any Beggar's Night festivities, turn your porch light off so youngsters know not to stop there. Also make sure your doors and the doors of any out-buildings are well-secured. As noted in the previous article, criminals -- as well as Beggars -- are out in force on Halloween.
  •  If you do plan to hand out treats, make sure your walkway is free of hazards and your front door is accessible to little ones (if you have a lot of steps leading up to your door, consider sitting outside at the bottom of the steps to hand out candy. We are fortunate to be in Florida, where the weather is not likely to impact such activities). 
  •  If lining your sidewalk, steps or porch with jack-o-lanterns and/or luminaries, consider using the inexpensive, battery operated "flicker flames," to simulate real fire. It is safer and you can walk away from it without worrying. 

Your Business

  • If you are a business that embraces the Halloween spirit, make sure your employees know the limits on costuming. Consider a "no mask" policy so everyone knows who is on the grounds at all times, especially if you plan to invite the public and/or trick-or-treaters in. 
  • Secure any areas of the building that should not be accessed by the general public.
  •  After dark, make sure your building remains well-lit and gives the appearance someone is on premises, even if no one is. 
  •  If your business is in an area subject to high crime after dark, consider a security guard for Halloween, if you don't already use one (or more).
  •  And, of course, if your business is sponsoring some kind of party, either during the work day or after hours, it is incumbent on you to make certain staffers make it home safely without posing a threat to themselves or anyone else.
  •  Remember that not all threats come in through the front door. Use Halloween as a time to discuss with your IT department or service ways to reinforce your cyber security. October is Cyber Security Awareness Month and cyber security breaches and phishing attacks are at an all-time high. 

Your Pets

  • Your pets will not understand the mob of people at your door, the unusual costumes, or the yelling, screaming and spooky noises. Better to secure them in an area of the house with their favorite toy, far from the tumult of celebration. 
  • Secure any areas where your pet could make his escape. With doors opening and closing for treat-or-treaters or party guests, Fido and Fluffy may decide it's time to make a hasty exit. Once outside, they may become further disoriented and confused by the unusual sights and sounds.
  • Remember that pets are not furry children: the Halloween treats that children adore could make your pets very sick, or worse. For example, chocolate and any candies sweetened with Xylitol are poison to dogs. Even candy wrappers can lead to intestinal blockages in cats and dogs. Stock up on tasty pet treats for your furry friends but leave the candy to the kids!

Your Car

  • If you park your car outside on Halloween night, make sure to lock it and ensure there are no valuables visible through the windows. Better yet, find a garage or secure space where you can stash your car until the streets are empty of revelers...and trouble-makers.
  • If you are on the road Halloween night (and, actually, all of Halloween week, because Beggars' Nights vary from community to community), please be extra vigilant for children and other pedestrians darting between cars, out of tree lines and across intersections. Slow down!


  •  If you are hosting a party, secure your house first and make sure valuables, keys and protective devices such as guns are neither visible nor accessible to outsiders. 
  • Serve plenty of food and provide non-alcoholic beverage options. 
  •  Collect car keys from guests who are drinking and prepare to call taxis, rideshares, provide sleeping accommodations, or—if you’re sober—drive the tipsy guests home yourself. 
  • Remember that social host liability laws may hold you responsible for parties where underage people drink, regardless of who furnishes the alcohol, and you could be held legally responsible for your guests’ behavior after they leave your party.
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