Environmental Health Officer (Public Health Inspector)

Environmental health officers (also known as public health inspectors) investigate, evaluate, and deal with health-related complaints that are connected to environmental factors. To make sure there is compliance with public health legislation and regulations.

Environmental health inspectors are highly skilled individuals whose training generally includes a four-year university degree in Environmental Health and certification by the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors. To become nationally certified, public health inspectors must complete a field training practicum, submit a number of reports, and pass the Institute's exam. Some inspectors have extra training in areas such as biology, toxicology, and epidemiology.

Environmental health inspectors also educate the public about regulations and the need for proper health protection. For example, they may be involved in injury prevention programs, tobacco control programs, or other health promotion programs.

Environmental health inspectors do some or all of the following duties:

  • inspect the sanitary conditions of restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals and other public facilities or institutions
  • conduct surveys and monitor the natural environment to identify sources of pollution
  • collect samples of water for analysis
  • measure physical, biological and chemical workplace hazards. Also, conduct safety and environmental inspections
  • investigate health and safety related complaints, spills of hazardous chemicals, outbreaks of diseases or poisonings and workplace accidents
  • inspect workplaces to ensure that equipment, materials, and production processes do not present a safety or health risk to employees or to the general public
  • develop, implement, and evaluate health and safety programs and plans
  • put into practice procedures to fine or to close an establishment that break municipal, provincial, or federal regulations
  • provide advice and give training programs to employers, employees, and the general public on issues that relate to public health, environmental protection or workplace safety.

They inspect public and private facilities such as:

  • food processing, preparation, and service establishments
  • waste management systems
  • workplaces
  • rental housing
  • hotels, motels, and other public accommodations
  • schools
  • child care facilities
  • long-term care facilities
  • animal facilities
  • private and public water supplies
  • swimming pools, whirlpools, and water spray parks
  • public beaches and recreational camps
  • places people go for entertainment
  • personal services facilities (for example, tattoo shops)
  • work camps.

In general, public health inspectors assess the situation, provide advice, and ensure compliance with policies and regulations regarding:

  • food and waterborne communicable diseases
  • insect and rodent control
  • food problems and institutional cleanliness
  • public health complaints
  • outdoor and indoor air quality
  • polluted land.

Photo: Island Health

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