Memorandum by the Chartered Institute
of Environmental Health (HSE 07)
Founded in 1883, the Chartered Institute of
Environmental Health (CIEH) is an independent professional and
education body representing those who work in environmental health
and related disciplines. It is dedicated to the promotion of environmental
health and to encouraging the highest possible standards in the
training and the work of environmental health professionals.
The Chartered Institute represents a professional
environmental health membership of 9,000 people, in England, Wales
and Northern Ireland. The majority of its members work for local
authorities and many of these are authorised as inspectors under
the Health & Safety at work etc Act 1974 and enforce health
and safety legislation in service, retail and service sectors
of employment. Others work in central government, industry, the
armed forces, academia, as independent consultants and overseas.
During 1997-98, 6,400 local authority inspectors,
many of whom have combined health and safety duties with other
public protection work, carried out 356,000 health and safety
visits to commercial premises and served 4,510 formal notices
requiring action. A total of 35,000 workplace injuries were reported
to local authorities in the same year.
An important role of the Chartered Institute
is to campaign for improvements in public health and to facilitate
debate about the environmental challenges that affect our health.
Active in technical policy and educational development, the Chartered
Institute communicates the views of the profession to governmental,
professional, and international organisations including the European
Union and the United Nations.
In 1993 the Chartered Institute became the World
Health Organisation (EURO) Collaborating Centre for Environmental
1.1 The Chartered Institute represents a
professional environmental health membership of 9,000 people in
England and Wales. Over 6,000 of these are authorised as inspectors
under the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 although the
majority combine this work with other public protection work.
1.2 The Chartered Institute is responsible
for ensuring high standards in the education and professional
development of its members. The Education Unit accredits professional
courses, assists members with training enquiries and administers
the Environmental Health Officers' Registration Board (EHORB),
the accrediting body for qualifications in the profession.
1.3 Before becoming an Environmental Health
Officer (EHO) a student must satisfactorily complete an accredited
BSc degree course in Environmental Health and register with the
Environmental Health Officers Registration Board. This involves
both academic study and practical training. It is a requirement
of the registration board that the student understands the impact
of work activities on the health, safety and welfare of people
and be familiar with; and be able to apply control mechanisms
and strategies to ensure that the risk to peoples' health and
safety from work activities are properly controlled. The qualification
is based on the attainment of competency in this area of work.
1.4 Local Authorities employ a variety of
staff who may not be qualified as EHOs. The Chartered Institute
is developing an "Advanced Certificate in Health and Safety
Inspection" aimed at local authority enforcement officers,
who are not EHOs, but wish to develop the competencies currently
met by EHOs as set out in guidance issued by the Health and Safety
Commission under section 18 of the Health & Safety at Work
etc Act 1974 (HSW Act).
2. THE ROLE
2.1 Local authority enforcement officers
are appointed as inspectors under the HSW Act as are inspectors
employed by the HSE. They enforce the same legislation as HSE
inspectors but in different premises as prescribed by Health and
Safety (Enforcement Authority) Regulations 1998. These premises
include offices, shops, warehouses, hotels, restaurants, places
of enterainment, consumer services, churches, residential care
homes and the service sector etc.
2.2 Local authorities have played a major
part in the success of the HSW Act to date. They are currently
responsible for 1.2 million premises, 10 million employees, and
over 50 million members of the public potentially affected by
work activity. Some of the biggest labour market changes impact
on the local authority enforced sector, a broad based services
sector, including substantial leisure activities, which has been
growing steadily at the expense of manufacturing.
2.3 This growth sector is characterised
Small and micro firms. Two thirds
of all firms with less than 50 employees are in the Local Authority
A growth in non-conventional employment:
peripatetic workers, part-time and home working;
The emergency of complete new industries
such as call centres.
2.4 Local Authority and HSE inspectors also
face new workplace health and safety issues which parallel wider
societal and life-style issues such as stress, sick building syndrome,
smoking (active and passive), violence and bullying, upper limb
disorders. Many of these are encountered in the office and service
sectors of employment.
2.4 The Chartered Institute therefore believes
that it is essential that the HSE and Local Authorities work in
partnership and maximise their collective contribution. It is
also essential that the liaison between the HSE and local authorities
HSE LOCAL AUTHORITY
3.1 The HSE Local Authority Unit (LAU) is
a free standing Division within the HSE and sits at the heart
of the partnership between the HSE and local authorities in securing
the Health and Safety Commission's (HSC) objectives. In conjunction
with the Local Government Associations it has general policy responsibility
for local authority enforcement matters. It offers advice to LAs
and co-ordinates information and data relating to the LA's enforcement
role. Local Authorities therefore very much depend on the LAU
for information, guidance and advice to ensure consistency, proportionality,
transparency and targeting on a risk related basis. The Chartered
Institute will continue to support the LAU in this important role
and looks to the Government to ensure that the Division is adequately
3.2 The Health and Safety Executive/Local
Authority Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA) comprises of representatives
of the HSE and local authority associations and is jointly chaired
by the Deputy Director General of the HSE and a senior Director
from a local authority. HELA aims to promote a consistent approach
between the HSE and LAs, promote good enforcement practice by
developing and disseminating guidance to local authorities, promote
and support local authority health and safety enforcement training,
collate and report details of local authority enforcement activity
and encourage consistency of enforcement. HELA operates through
a main committee and ad hoc working groups. The Chartered Institute
is invited to the HELA Technical Sub-Committee.
3.3 The Chartered Institute supports HELA
by disseminating information and promulgating key features of
its current strategy in publications and training seminars. The
Chartered Institute holds the view that HELA is not totally transparent.
It regrets that it does not have observer status on the main HELA
4. LIAISON AT
4.1 Local Authority inspectors liaise locally
with HSE Enforcement Liaison Officers (ELOs) who are normally
principal inspectors. The ELOs provide assistance in respect of
technical enquiries and play a part in resolving problems of demarcation.
Effective liaison between the HSE and local authorities is essential
at local level. Resources allocated to local authority liaison
by HSE Area Directors varies from region to region. The Chartered
Institute believes that these resources should be maximised and
that the resources allocated by Area Directors for liaison with
local authorities should be fully utilised in every case.
5. LIAISON WITHIN
5.1 The Chartered Institute's Health &
Safety Committee funds a Health & Safety Co-ordinating Group
(HASCOG) which consists of members representing all of the County
Health & Safety Groups throughout England and Wales. The groups,
of which there are 47, are either set up under the auspices of
the Chartered Institute or report direct to Chief Officer's within
their County. HASCOG meets four times a year to discuss technical
issues and to resolve common problems. The HSE LAU is represented
at these meetings thus enabling the County Groups to liaise direct
with the LAU and feed back information to the County Groups they
represent. The Chartered Institute welcomes this representation.
6. HSE ACCESS
6.1 The Environmental Health Electronic
Communications Network (EHCnet) supports environmental health
officers throughout the UK with a fast private communications
link with their peers in hundreds of other local authorities,
and gives them access to a wealth of professionally vital information.
A message can be sent to all environmental health users (including
391 local authorities who subscribe to the network). This year
the Chartered Institute granted the HSE LAU free access to EHCnet
enabling it to liaise with LAs quickly and effectively. The Chartered
Institute is currently discussing with the HSE how technical manuals
etc can be transmitted and updated by way of the network. The
Chartered Institute considers this to be an important development
in communication between the HSE and LAs.
7. LOCAL AUTHORITY
HSE LIAISON GROUPS
7.1 In recent years local authority representation
on HSE liaison groups has been somewhat sparse. However, representation
on technical and policy groups is growing and there is now more
joint development and testing of good practice a development which
the Chartered Institute strongly supports.
8. LA ENFORCEMENT
8.1 The profile of health and safety enforcement
in LAs has been the concern of the Chartered Institute for some
time. Resources within local authorities environmental health
departments are subject to a number of pressures in particular
the enforcement of food safety legislation. HELA reports a 10
per cent drop in enforcement officer numbers in 1997-98 which
is of particular concern to the Chartered Institute which questions
whether this is a proper re-balancing to reflect risks, or a knee
jerk response to public concerns. The Chartered Institute believes
that the HSE LAU and HELA should take every opportunity to persuade
local authorities to redress this fall.
9.1 The relationship between the HSE and
LAs has improved over recent years and the Chartered Institute
looks to both parties to continue with this improved dialogue.
It must be recognised that the LAs are not simply a bolt-on enforcement
network. There is no room for a gulf between the LAs and the HSE
when expectations demand a continued central role for LAs which
Partnership, engaging with others,
participation, equality of access and minimisation of social exclusion;
Local delivery of quality services
clearly focused on the customer;
The need to tackle more successfully
the needs of a diverse and numerous small business sector; and
Emergence of "new" health
and safety challenges which are, in effect, part of a wider social
issues and government agenda.