Environmental Health Practitioner

Occupational overview

This occupation is found in the public sector, typically in local authorities, but also in third-party and private businesses. The majority will be employed in local government and in private industry although they may also carry out their duties in a wider range of settings including: central government, consultancies, the NHS, armed services, public health protection, not for profit businesses and charities. They will work in a range of departments in which they will apply their professional knowledge and skills on a range of areas, such as environmental protection, food safety, health and safety at work, housing standards and public health. This occupation could be based locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to act as advisers, educators, consultants and enforcement officers, enabling people to live and work in safe, healthy environments. By undertaking a risk-based approach, Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) will promote a safe and healthy environment for the public and businesses, through education and enforcement. For example, inspecting food premises and workplaces for food safety and health and safety compliance, monitoring air quality, undertaking emergency interventions, investigating food fraud, safety and noise control at large events, dealing with rogue landlords, investigating food poisoning outbreaks, licensing tattoo parlours and investigating accidents at work. They work in a range of environments and will spend much of their time out in the community with businesses and the public. They may have to work evenings and weekends to meet the job needs.

Typically working remotely or from an office base, EHPs will spend much of their time out in the community with businesses and the public. They work in a range of settings from residential situations to highly dangerous conditions, mainly in commercial and industrial settings. EHPs will work in situations where there is potential for conflict. They will provide expert, professional and technical advice to other council departments, external organisations, members of the public and businesses. They will attend council committees, courts of law, tribunals, public meetings etc. related to the prime objectives of the role.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for working independently with a high level of autonomy and as part of a wider team. EHPs will plan, organise and prioritise their own case load, typically reporting to a line manager. They will work largely unsupervised and will be expected to exercise initiative and professional judgement, often being required to make quick decisions. They will work to ensure that outcomes and objectives are achieved within desired timescales. They may be responsible for the following resources: safety equipment, sampling equipment, measuring equipment, photographic and video equipment and electronic equipment. This includes the management of any chains of evidence collected. They will also be responsible for sensitive and personal information. EHPs may be expected to supervise technical staff and students. EHPs should demonstrate a commitment to their own continuing professional development.

Knowledge

  • The complex political and corporate environment in which the organisation operates and own role in this
  • The legislative framework and technical application of relevant Acts, regulations, guidance and codes of practice eg. the Environment Act, Environmental Protection Act, the Health and Safety at Work Act, Public Health Acts, Building Act, Food Hygiene Regulations, Housing Acts, Police and Criminal Evidence Act, data protection legislation, anti-social behaviour legislation etc
  • The role of the environmental health service in leading on and contributing to the wider public health agenda and the health, safety and wellbeing of local communities
  • The procedures and practices involved with carrying out evidence and risk-based inspections, audits and investigations
  • The full range of statutory and non-statutory interventions to control, mitigate and reduce risk
  • The procedures and practices involved in taking a range of enforcement actions
  • The procedures and practices involved with granting permits, licences and authorisations
  • How to liaise and communicate appropriately with a variety of sources including clients, partner agencies, the public and the media
  • The relevance and interpretation of complex/scientific reports, technical guidance, analytical data, research and other forms of evidence
  • The concepts of hazard analysis and risk assessment and their practical application in environmental health
  • Concepts relating to the natural world, its key biological and ecological systems and how this may affect and be affected by humans; sustainability of resources and their impact on climate and health
  • The human world and communities; human made structures, industry and services
  • How social, cultural, emotional and psychological factors influence environmental health and the health of the public
  • Concepts of health and disease and how these are measured and assessed
  • Environmental stressors and how they impact on different environments and communities
  • The impact of lifestyle choices on the health of individuals and communities
  • The principles of environmental microbiology
  • Theories of epidemiology of a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases and their practical application in environmental health
  • Anatomy and physiology and how human function can be affected by biological, toxicological and mechanical effects
  • The concepts and principles of leadership and application to own practice
  • A range of quantitative and qualitative data gathering methods and how to appraise and select the optimum method
  • The limits of own scope of practice and when to seek advice from others
  • Principles of safeguarding and how to apply them to self and others
  • The principles of collecting evidence for monitoring, investigations and enforcement purposes including seizure and detention powers, formal sampling procedures and exhibit referencing
  • Techniques to investigate and resolve complaints

Skills

  • Provide specialist, professional and technical environmental health advice and guidance to a range of stakeholders such as residents, businesses, property owners, government agencies and partners
  • Plan, undertake and lead inspections, audits and other forms of investigations across the breadth of environmental health matters
  • Evaluate applications and grant relevant licences and permits eg. environmental permits, HMOs, caravan sites, skin piercing, tattooists etc
  • Negotiate with and influence a range of stakeholders in relation to a range of environmental health matters
  • Identify, evaluate and communicate environmental health risks and risk management solutions to a range of stakeholders
  • Ensure all activities are undertaken in accordance with relevant legislation, guidance and codes of practice
  • Infer and apply a range of legislation related to environmental health, eg. the Environment Act, Environmental Protection Act, the Health and Safety at Work Act, Food Safety Act, Housing Act, Public Health Act, Police and Criminal Evidence Act, data protection legislation, anti-social behaviour legislation etc
  • Employ a range of research, analytical and problem-solving techniques to resolve environmental health issues through creative and critical thinking, devising practical solutions and applying problem solving strategies
  • Critically evaluate and analyse evidence and information
  • Formulate judgements and decisions based on the evidence available and applied knowledge eg. on acceptable levels of pollution emissions, water data, acceptable levels of noise etc
  • Manage objective measurement and analysis of scientific information to determine the appropriate course of action eg. noise measurement, air emissions etc
  • Appraise, implement and communicate relevant interventions eg. enforcement actions
  • Produce accurate records and reports and where appropriate, recommend interventions, including the collection and handling of evidence with a view towards legal proceedings
  • Assess and deal effectively with difficult and confrontational situations
  • Participate in health promotional activities in high priority environmental health areas eg. shisha, smoking, obesity, food safety etc
  • Implement effective decision making, exercising discretion, initiative and independence within the scope of own role
  • Communicate and influence effectively with a diverse range of stakeholders including spoken and written communication skills, presentation skills, giving advice and guidance / mediating / negotiating and persuading, handling private and sensitive information (eg. data protection)
  • Use a range of standard IT packages to undertake for example, word processing activities, produce reports and input / analyse data
  • Work as part of a multi-disciplinary and/or multi-organisational team and collaborate to achieve successful outcomes
  • Lead activities relating to environmental health matters
  • Carry out sampling and collect evidence for monitoring, investigations and/or enforcement purposes in accordance with legislation and current guidance
  • Examine and assess compliance with conditions
  • Plan, organise and prioritise workload to meet deadlines

Behaviours

  • Be positive, creative and innovative within complex environments in professional practice
  • Be adaptive to a changing operational and political environment
  • Be collaborative with a diverse range of stakeholders
  • Be self-motivated and committed to leading own professional development
  • Be assertive in appropriate situations to communicate and influence effectively
  • Show discretion in professional practice
  • Be resilient and self-aware
  • Operate with dignity and respect, maintaining impartiality/fairness/equality
  • Champion own organisation’s values and goals

Entry requirements

Employers and universities will determine their own entry requirements; typically, this will be 3 A Levels or equivalent.

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment.  For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

Duration

48 months.

Professional qualifications

Professional recognition: The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health / Membership

Mandatory qualification 1: BSc (Hons) degree in Environmental Health/BSc (Hons) degree in Environmental Science

Level of qualification: 6 (integrated degree)

Originally published on Gov.uk, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.

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