Environmental health officer
Environmental health officers (EHOs) are usually employed by local government or state health authorities to advise on and enforce public health standards. However, many are employed in the private sector and in the military.
EHOs or their equivalents can be found in most countries that have been part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Internationally EHOs are also referred to as Public Health Inspectors, Sanitarians, Health Protection Officers etc.
Roles and responsibilities
The exact nature of an Environmental Health Officer's job may vary. Some EHOs will specialise whilst others will retain a generalist role.
Some typical areas of work include:
- Inspecting/auditing food businesses for food safety and suitability
- Licensing and inspecting premises on public health grounds
- Communicable disease investigation
- Tobacco control and education
- Grey water system installation and use
- Inspecting/auditing health related premises for public health safety (under the Victorian Health Act)
- Monitoring recreational and drinking water
- Environmental risk assessments
- Assessing housing fitness
- Discharge consents/monitoring
- Environmental pollution investigations
- Occupational health and safety
- Compliance & Enforcement (including prosecutions)
- Health promotion
Environmental health is a graduate career in most countries.
Australia, Victoria The current requirment to become an authorised officer under the Food Act 1984 in Victoria is a BHSc Public & Environmental Health. This degree is being offered by Swinburne University of Technology, located at its Hawthorn Campus.
New Zealand Entrants to the profession must have either a BAppSc Health Protection or BHSc Environmental Health. Alternatively, suitably qualified science graduates can obtain a graduate diploma in environmental health.
Republic of Ireland To become an Environmental Health Officer it is necessary to hold an environmental health degree approved by the Department of Health & Children. The study of Environmental Health in Ireland also requires students to undertake a period of professional practice with the Health Service Executive. Following the period of professional practice, competence must then be demonstrated through an experiential learning logbook and oral examination.
England & Wales EHOs must hold an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification recognised by the Environmental Health Registration Board.
Canada Public Health Inspectors have a university degree in Applied Science and a national professional certificate in Public Health Inspection - C.P.H.I.(C).
EHOs bring to the position an understanding of microbiology, risk assessment, environmental science and technology, food science, as well as skills and knowledge related to the tracking and control of communicable disease and the investigation and enforcement of legislation related to public health and the environment. Working in partnership with Government Ministries such as Health, Agriculture and the Environment, local municipalities, businesses, community groups and agencies as well as individual members of the community the EHO plays a major role in protecting public health.
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