Public Health Investigator Job Duties

by Erika Winston
Health investigators inspect restaurants and other businesses.

Health investigators inspect restaurants and other businesses.

Public health investigators work for government agencies to ensure that citizens are protected in various environments, from restaurants and apartment buildings to water treatment centers. They search for and document instances where a business or individual does not comply with regulations regarding health standards. As a health inspector you might be entrusted with the well being of thousands of people who rely on you to be principled and unyielding in your responsibilities. Education requirements vary by the location and job, though many positions require at least some college.

Fit For Habitation

Public health investigators conduct inspections in a variety of locations, depending on which government agency employs them. As an investigator, you visit any location that potentially endangers public safety. Even private residences are inspected at the request of an interested party. If an apartment resident calls the city to complain about the building's condition, for example, the public health investigator visits the apartment for an inspection. Based on his findings, he has the power to sanction the building owner or even declare that the dwelling is unsafe for habitation.

Food Service Inspections

Any facility that provides food to the public is likely to be visited by a public health inspector. Restaurants, grocery stores and food kitchens for the poor are all regulated by government health laws. Your job is to investigate specific aspects of the food preparation area for compliance. This typically includes checking that food is stored properly, cooking equipment is clean and working properly, refrigeration units and water are at the proper temperatures, and food storage areas are free from mold and rodents. You also ensure that employees are following proper hygiene measures and cooking food to the right temperature. If your inspection finds numerous violations, you can sanction the restaurant with a fine or even close it down until it complies with health regulations.

Keeping Children Safe

An investigator can shut down a daycare center.

Public health investigators visit childcare facilities to ensure the children are well cared for in a safe environment. Inspectors visit a facility to make sure that the center has the appropriate amount of exits, bathrooms and safety equipment. You also check the food preparation area and verify that the location offers the appropriate amount of square footage per child. For new childcare centers, you might investigate and approve a facility before it can open for business. You also routinely inspect established centers to ensure that ongoing safety measures are followed. In some cases you might investigate allegations of unlicensed or unsafe centers. Based on your findings, you have the authority to shut the facility down and even recommend criminal sanctions.

Keeping Water Safe

Governments hire water inspectors to investigate areas where water is stored, collected or filtered to make sure safety standards are being followed. This work might involve visiting water treatment facilities or refuge collection sites. You might also inspect construction sites, where private builders are working with or around public water lines. Public water treatment facilities are also under the regulation of public health investigators, who visit the sites to ensure that the location is maintained in compliance with government regulations.

About the Author

Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.

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