My experience as an Environmental Health Practitioner during Covid-19

A bit of background

I have been working as an Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP) for the last 10 years. I am what they call a ‘generalist’ in that I didn’t specialise after qualifying so it’s like being a ‘jack of all trades’. I work in health and safety, food safety, nuisance and public health including infectious disease doing proactive work such as advising businesses and routine food inspections. I even appeared on Channel 5’s ‘Filthy Britain’ as a food inspector ‘doing my bit to clean up Britain’.

I also do reactive work including accident investigations, food complaints, infectious disease follow ups.

I set up my own business as a food safety consultant in my spare time so I can focus on the thing that I love which is food. I started off training as a chef at catering college and have always worked in the catering industry. I re trained as an EHP and haven’t looked back.

Lockdown

Before March 2020 everything was running quite smoothly and then Bam! coronavirus and lockdown hit. I, like the majority of the country resigned myself to working from home for the foreseeable future. Also similar to most people I spent the first few weeks in shock worried about mine and my family and friends’ health and how we were going to avoid this invisible killer.

Eventually I came to accept this as my new way or living and working and I have sort of got used to it. On the work front food inspections and visits of any kind came to an abrupt halt and everything went virtual. Obviously apart from the really high risk stuff including enforcement of the
Coronavirus regulations which were given to Environmental Health and Trading Standards to deal with.

Coming out of hibernation

Since the relaxation of restrictions and re opening of businesses we are finally returning to a ‘normalish’ way of working and are helping businesses to understand and comply with the Coronavirus regulations including risk assessments and social distancing  as well as all the other routine stuff that we normally do.

Keeping up to date

I am attending regular webinars, listening to podcasts, have joined a knowledge hub for environmental health professionals working through Covid-19. As well as digesting guidance and legislation on a daily basis to keep up to date with the fast pace of the evolving coronavirus epidemic.

Unfortunately there are more questions than answers at the moment but we are trying to support businesses and help them untangle the information available and what applies to them.

A typical day

‘Newsflash’ – there is no typical day, I have been jumping between advising retail businesses on how to get Covid 19 secure – social distancing, sanitising, hand washing, use of changing rooms etc. to following up complaints about business who are not complying. A small minority have been open when they shouldn’t be or not following the rules which has resultEd in in enforcement notices being served and businesses being closed . However the majority of businesses have taken on the challenge and have fully complied to help stop the spread of the virus.

On the front line

With the imminent re opening of food businesses I am advising food businesses on how to understand the social distancing ruling of 1m+ and who is allowed to eat with who. Also how many people are allowed inside and outside, what to do about cutlery, taking customers details and the myriad of new questions that come up every day. This is challenging but it is really what makes the job exciting  and varied and being on the front line of the epidemic as a key worker is certainly a unique experience.

Passing on my knowledge

I am using all this invaluable experience and knowledge that I am building on a daily basis to advise businesses in my consultant’s role on how they can become Covid 19 secure. I want to give them insight into what other businesses are doing so they can use this information to help them through this terrible and uncertain time and hopefully come out of the other side.

To download a copy of my Top Ten tips on how to get Covid 19 secure, sign up on my Covid 19
page https://www.foodsafetylogic.co.uk/covid-19/. I will be sending out lots more tips over the next few weeks so make sure you don’t miss out

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