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THEIR JOB, YOUR HEALTH

- Health Unit Highlights Work of Public Health Inspectors in Protecting People Against Health Hazards -

Most days their work goes unnoticed, but behind the scenes, public health inspectors play an important role in promoting health and preventing illness.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is highlighting the work of its more than one dozen public health inspectors, including through a new YouTube video. The awareness effort comes during Environmental Public Health Week (September 25-29), marked nationally to shed light on the PHI profession.
“The work of Public Health Inspectors may not always be seen, but it is always there to protect you and your family,” says Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Public health inspectors work in many different settings to ensure public health is protected. We’re very proud of their hard work and dedication to the job.”

When it comes to food safety, public health inspectors play an important role. They inspect hundreds of restaurants, grocery stores, long-term care homes and other food premises each year to check that food is safe and staff comply with and follow safe food handling practices. Inspectors also: respond to public complaints about unsafe food; assist in food recalls; help to investigate sources of foodborne illness; offer advice to people opening new food premises; re-inspect food premises that need to be brought into compliance; and provide safe food handler courses and recertification exams.

In 2016 alone, Public Health Inspectors offered 33 food handler courses in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, certifying a total of 513 local residents in safe food handling.

Ensuring water is safe for public use is another key duty carried out by public health inspectors. To do this, inspectors will:

• Check that all food premises use potable water and ensure any water provided to the public is bacteria-free and safe to drink.

• Respond to adverse drinking water incidents in the area, and issue Boil Water Advisories if warranted. Inspectors can also provide advice and directions on corrective actions to take to fix the problem.

• Help private well owners understand their test results and then answer questions or provide advice on how to fix potential problems.

• Inspect Small Drinking Water Systems to ensure water is safe for human consumption.

• Test bacterial levels in beach water and public pools to ensure they are safe for public use.

In addition to ensuring food and water is safe, public health inspectors also check that environmental hazards do not pose a health risk to people. Inspectors offer prevention tips and monitor for the spread of illnesses such as West Nile virus and Lyme Disease. Inspectors also protect against the spread of rabies to humans by following up on animal bites and, when necessary, distributing rabies vaccine. In 2016 for example, public health inspectors conducted 514 animal bite investigations in the Health Unit region.

For media inquiries, contact:

Richard Ovcharovich, Manager, Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2222.

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