Swimmer’s ear leads to about 2.4 million doctor visits each year and is responsible for nearly $500 million dollars in annual health care costs, according to estimates released by CDC. The report, published in CDC’s MMWR, is the first national study to estimate health care costs associated with this common ailment. Swimmer’s ear can develop when water stays in the  canal for a long time, allowing germs to grow and infect the skin. Exposure to water—through swimming, bathing, and other activities—and living in warm and humid climates increase the risk of developing swimmer’s ear. Germs found in pools and at other recreational water venues are one of the most common causes of  the infection. Most cases can be easily treated with prescription antimicrobial ear drops.

In one year, 1 in 123 Americans go to the doctor for swimmer’s ear; with the rates of doctor’s visits for swimmer’s ear  highest in children between the ages of 5 and 14 years. However, more than half of the reported infections occurred in adults over age 20. People living in the South had the highest regional rate of swimmer’s ear. Cases peaked during the summer swimming season, with 44 percent of cases occurring in June, July, or August. Read More…


Disaster planning requires employers to think the unthinkable but be realistic.

When you think about disasters, what images come to mind? Do you envision a tornado or other weather-related system ripping through your community and destroying homes and businesses in the process? Or maybe you envision a fire, system malfunction, medical emergency, or other major disaster?

A disaster is any unplanned event that can cause deaths or significant injuries, disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage, or threaten the facility’s financial standing or public image. The key is to mitigate threats before a disaster occurs yet have a plan in place to respond appropriately. Read More…


Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector borne illness (or disease transmitted to humans by ticks, mosquitoes, or fleas) in the United States, with nearly 30,000 confirmed cases reported.

In recognition of Lyme Disease Awareness month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds Americans to learn about this common tickborne disease and take steps to protect themselves if they live in or visit areas with Lyme disease activity.

Since 1992, the reported annual number of Lyme disease  cases has more than tripled, with children most at risk for the disease. Children are more at risk because they spend more time playing outdoors and in high grass or leaves, where the ticks that spread Lyme disease are found.

Lyme disease is transmitted to people through the bite of infected ticks. These ticks are most active during May through July, so it’s especially important that people living in affected regions take steps now to prevent Lyme disease when they go outside. About 95 percent of reported cases in 2009 were from just 12 states. In descending order of reported cases, they are: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine, and Virginia. Read More…


Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that has no odor or color. But it is very dangerous. It is very poisonous  causing sudden illness,  death and long term physical and mental handicaps.

Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your space. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu.  The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion


Read More…


Mike Holt Enterprises and Mel Ambudson, electrical code consultants, are collaborating on a series of articles that seeks to explain the responsibilities of  contractors or maintenance management  for their employees and building maintenance techs, when electrical work is required.


Although this article addresses the issues under the current regulations that differentiate between “General Industry” and “Construction” fields, building and construction management teams need to be aware that legislation is pending which will make all workers subject to the federal guidelines.


How can OSHA regulations today affect the work of  an electrician?

The NFPA 70E was originally developed at OSHA’s request to address electrical hazards in the workplace. OSHA bases its electrical safety requirements on the comprehensive information in NFPA 70E. Even though OSHA does not mandate compliance with NFPA 70E  itself,  it considers NFPA 70E to be an effective how-to manual for OSHA regulation compliance.
As a general guideline to the content of NFPA 70E, the first chapter is the guidelines for the safety directives we see in the OSHA regulations. You will find that Articles 110 and 120 have become the electrical safety regulations, with 120 becoming the parent of our LOTO programs. OSHA has adopted the NFPA 70E codes through the 2000 codebook. The Article containing the Arc Flash Safety Standards does not appear until the 2002 NFPA 70E codebook as Article 130, and has not been adopted into the OSHA regulation series.
The adoption of the NFPA 70E codes are led by the dangers in our chosen trade, the electrical work place. According to an article by NFPA’s Senior Electrical Specialist Kenneth Mastrullo,

“Statistics show that electrical contact results in 4,000 non-disabling and 3,600 disabling injuries annually in the United States, not to mention one death in the workplace every day.” Historically, electrocution has been the fourth leading cause of workplace deaths in America, Mastrullo says.

He also points out that two other common electrical hazards “arc flash and arc blast “are not included in these statistics, nor are near-miss incidents.

a. What does OSHA say about protecting  workers?

OSHA requires the use of protective equipment when working where potential electrical hazards exist, although the agency does not specify how to select personal protective equipment. OSHA requires facility management  to assess workplace hazards and the need for personal protective equipment, but it does not specify how to conduct hazard assessments.
Although OSHA doesn’t directly state what to do about arc-flash hazards, OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132(d) (1) requires employers to evaluate the workplace for hazards. And based on these assessments, the employer must select and require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for its employees.

b. How can one distinguish between the electrical work that is considered “general industry work” (OSHA 29 CFR 1926) and electrical work that is considered “construction work” (OSHA 29 CFR 1910).

Article 1910.12(d) states: For the purposes of this part, to the extent that it may not already be included in paragraph (b) of this section, “construction work” includes the erection of new electric transmission and distribution lines and equipment, and the alteration, conversion, and improvement of the existing transmission and distribution lines and equipment.
Article 1910.301(a) states: Included in this category are all electric equipment and installations used to provide electric power and light for employee workplaces.
Within the 1910 article series, the safety design standards for electrical systems are contained in Articles 1910.302 thru 1910.330.

Article 1926.10(a) states: This subpart contains the general rules of the Secretary of Labor interpreting and applying the construction safety and health provisions of section 107 of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (83 Stat. 96). Which is for construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating, that no contractor or subcontractor contracting for any part of the contract work shall require any laborer or mechanic employed in the performance of the contract to work in surroundings or under working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to his health or safety, as determined under construction safety and health standards promulgated by the Secretary by regulation.

Overall CFR 1910 provides for the safe installation and repair of electrical equipment. And CFR 1926 is to make sure of the safety of the construction site and that health standards are also maintained.

How OSHA uses the “General Duty Clause” for the enforcement of safety on the job site.

a. The cause elements of a general duty citation.

Section 5(a) (1) of the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 has become known as “The General Duty Clause”.  It is a catch all for citations if OSHA identifies unsafe conditions to which a regulation does not cover or exist.  With respect to the general duty clause, industrial consensus standards (NFPA 70, and NFPA 70E, among others) may be evidence that a hazard is “recognized” and that there is a feasible means of correcting such a hazard.

Within Section 5 of the Act it is stated:
A. Each Employer:

  • Shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
  • Shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.

B. Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.

How can  an employer be cited for violation of the general duty clause if a recognized serious hazard exists in their workplace and facility management does not take reasonable steps to prevent or remove the hazard?

In practice, OSHA, court precedent, and the review of actions, have established that, if the following elements are present, a “general duty clause” citation may be issued to an employer.

1.   The employers failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which employees of that employer or were exposed.
2.   The hazard was recognized.
3.   The hazard was causing or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
4.   There was a feasible and useful method to correct the hazard.

Mike Holt has been an electrical code instructor for more than 20 years.  He, now, consults regarding emergency power generators and associated code compliance.