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Environmental Health Officer

Find out the requirements to be a Environmental Health Officer

Environmental Health Officer

What does a Environmental Health Officer do?

Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) aim to protect people from environmental health hazards in their living and working surroundings.

They enforce procedures which are sometimes necessary to ensure compliance with legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act, the Food Safety Act and the Environmental Protection Act. They also advise householders, shopkeepers, business owners, managers and workers in industry.

Typical tasks include:

  • inspecting a wide range of premises and advising on hygiene and safety issues
  • following up complaints and investigating outbreaks of food poisoning or infectious diseases
  • investigating accidents
  • monitoring standards and taking enforcement action
  • collecting samples for laboratory testing
  • giving educational talks to groups of people in the community
  • giving evidence in cases which come to court
  • keeping records and writing reports.
EHOs can deal with a wide range of functions such as food safety, air pollution control, noise control, radiation monitoring, occupational health and safety, monitoring of drinking water and bathing water, environmental assessment, waste management and housing standards. Some become specialists in one or more of these areas. In Scotland, food hygiene premises inspections are carried out by Registered Food Safety Officers. Please see the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) website for details of this role.

EHOs work closely with other professionals, including planning officers, housing officers, building control officers, Health and Safety Executive staff and Trading Standards officers.

What's the working environment like working as a Environmental Health Officer?

EHOs work a 37 to 39 hour week and may be required to cover occasional weekend and night duties. It may be possible to work flexitime or job share. Part-time work may be available.

They are likely to be office-based but spend much of their time out and about visiting premises. Some of the work may be unpleasant or in dirty or potentially dangerous situations. Protective clothing such as hats, masks, boots and overalls is worn as appropriate.

A driving licence is needed as EHOs need to visit different premises and sites.

What does it take to become a Environmental Health Officer?

To be an EHO you should:
  • have problem solving skills
  • have an accurate and methodical approach to gathering information
  • pay close attention to detail
  • have excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • be able to work with people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • have good negotiating skills
  • be able to apply scientific and technical understanding
  • be self confident, assertive and tactful.

Environmental Health Officer Career Opportunities

The majority of EHOs are employed by local authorities. Some work in the private sector, advising businesses on their legal obligations and helping them to maintain good environmental health standards. They may be known as environmental health consultants.

In local government there is a clearly defined promotion structure to senior, principal and chief officer posts.

Further Career Information

If you would like to know more about a career as an Environmental Health Officer related facts, statistics, articles and websites.