The HSE Environmental Health Service regulates a wide range of areas of public health concern. The purpose is largely preventative, by controlling and removing environmental risks and factors that may cause ill health or reduce quality of life. The Environmental Health Officers are central part of the service.
Environmental Health Officers administer and enforce a wide large of legislation including that in relation to
- infectious diseases,
- tobacco control,
- food safety,
- drinking water standards,
- cosmetic products,
EHOs work with preschool service officers enforcing the Childcare (Preschool Services) Regulations. They advise on and enforce regulations and requirements in relation to physical condition, equipment, welfare staffing, food, activities and administration. EHOs act in relation to ds. preschool services, day care child minding drop in centres and overnight pre-school services.
EHOs enforce the EU Cosmetic Products Regulations. Cosmetics products are wider than makeup and cover preparations and substances intended to be put in contact with the human body or with teeth. This includes sun protection, deodorants, toothpaste and similar products.
EHOs undertake inspections and take samples of products.
EHOs examine drinking water in food premises. They are also involved in the management of drinking water in public supplies and group water schemes. They may undertake tests and offer advice on the result of analysis.
EHOs have powers in relation to pest control including rats, mice and insects. They have powers to require the disinfestation of premises.
EHOs undertake food control services under contract between the HSE and Food Safety Authority of Ireland. They inspect and examine food premises at all levels from importers, wholesalers, retailers to consumers. They examine food services in public houses, restaurants, child care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and hotels. They may advise in relation to compliance.
EHOs have power to enter premises and undertake inspection. EHOs have a range of sanctions from closure of premises to warnings. Generally EHOs will advise on remediation steps. An improvement notice may be required in more serious cases. If this is not complied with, the EHO can apply for an improvement order in the District Court.
EHOs may apply for a closure order in the event of serious noncompliance with food legislation or if an improvement order has not been complied with. They may issue an enforcement notice. They may issue prohibition orders and may prosecute for breach.
EHOs may take samples and subject them to analysis. They may enforce rules in respect of requirements for food composition including those relating to additives and labelling.
Under the food alert notification system, a notice may issue from the FSAI requiring the recall of food. If a food has been identified as hazardous, the FSAI may issues a food alert to enforcement agencies, food distributors and retailers.
The EHOs operate tobacco control in conjunction with the National Tobacco Control Office. They monitor point of sale restrictions and packaging requirements. They enforce the regulations applicable to retail premises including
- restrictions on advertising and displaying tobacco products in retail premises which sell tobacco assurance that tobacco products are stored out of view
- display of a sign to the effect that tobacco products may only be sold to persons over 18.
- restriction on vending machine
Complaints may be made to the EHO or the National Tobacco Control Office.