As part of our campaign asking the people of Wales ‘How healthy is your Town’ http://myhealthytown.wao.gov.uk/ we will be taking an inside look at the role Environmental Health Officers play in ensuring our towns, cities and villages are clean and safe to live in. Over the course of the next two months we will follow Environmental health graduates Caryl and Stephen as they train towards becoming fully qualified Practitioners.
In part 2 Caryl shares with us the lessons gained from her work experience placements with various Welsh Council’s.
During my Environmental Health degree, I had to study modules covering Food Safety, Housing, Environmental Protection and Health and Safety. All these taught modules developed my understanding of the Environmental Health legislation and procedures but I was aware that to advance my practical understanding of Environmental Health I needed to gain practical experience.
Therefore I contacted several councils and was able to gain a number of work experiences within sectors of Environmental Health, such as Food Safety and Housing. I would like to share this experience with you.
As a student Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP), my work experience with the Council provided me with an understanding of the range of duties and responsibilities of an EHP. I accompanied an EHP who was conducting a visit and I was able to observe their inspection methods. Initially, the EHP explained to me the process of a routine inspection and outlined the different potential outcomes of the inspection.
There were some instances where I found it difficult to assess the hazards on the visits or to decide on which enforcement option was necessary. In addition to using the knowledge I gained at University, the EHP explained the relevant codes of practice and enforcement guidance that the Council used.
For each visit that I was involved in and with the assistance of the EHP, I became more familiar with the routine inspection methods and investigation techniques. As a result, I developed my confidence by applying my existing knowledge into the practical visits.
I also witnessed on the visits the EHP dealing with difficult situations. It helped to witness these situations as this experience offered me ways of dealing with and handling the queries from the public when I have to undertake my visits without supervision.
On top of these visits, I was involved in other council duties. This involved me attending various in-house team meetings and council meetings with the public.
My work experience with the Council provided me with additional opportunities to liaise with other local councils and government bodies such as Public Health Wales and Trading Standards.
Overall my work experience extended my practical knowledge of Environmental Health procedures as well as the working relationships with other local councils, government bodies and the public. Without gaining this work experience, I would not have the confidence to undertake a routine visit by myself nor would I be able to handle the demands of this important area of work.
The Wales Audit Office is currently looking into how well councils are providing Environmental Health Services in Wales. As part of our study, we are seeking views from the public.
If you would like to take part our survey you can do so by visiting http://www.myhealthytown.wao.gov.uk (all contributions are anonymous, you won’t be asked to give your name).
You can also contribute to the conversation around Environmental Health by following our Twitter hashtag #MyHealthyTown or visiting our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/WalesAudit