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The Future of: CPD For Environmental Health Officers

The global environment health and safety (EHS) market size is expected to reach $88.39B by 2027. However, companies resisting EHS and the cost of new software solutions, might block some of this growth.

An environmental health officer inspects a construction site

When laws, regulations, standards and practice change and markets evolve, CPD is a key need. These changes are currently happening to a significant degree in this ever-growing field of EHS. Therefore, this article is about how CPD may evolve in this area to allow Environmental Health Officers to continue to work effectively.

Increasing Urgency

A person washes their hands at a stone sink

The job of an environmental health officer is to make sure that homes and workplaces are safe, hygienic and healthy. They carry out such duties as following up complaints and investigating outbreaks of food poisoning, infectious diseases, and pests. Therefore, with new COVID-19 variants, environmental health officers must be more adept at investigating infectious outbreaks in particular, as their role becomes more urgent. Might this result in CPD efforts focusing on infectious disease investigation, as opposed to pest infestations? Or might structured CPD, planned months in advance, make way for more fast-track CPD activities that can offer EHS officers more urgent skills that can allow them to help the workplaces of today?

In terms of the EHS role becoming more urgent, we’re now at a middle-point scenario with regards to workplace environments. Some employees have returned to the office, some (including vulnerable people) are still working entirely from home, and 43 of the UK’s biggest firms questioned by the BBC have said that they’ll encourage hybrid working. These choices are thrown further into confusion when many members of staff have to self-isolate due to a combination of eased restrictions and the COVID-19 app. Furthermore, masks are not compulsory but are a personal choice, so people may be unsure about whether they should wear masks in a certain location and therefore its safety needs are also uncertain.

Therefore, as workers and employers alike face confusion over whether the workplace is safe enough to return to and how they should act within that environment, environmental health officers need to particularly develop in terms of their communication, interpersonal skills, organisation and problem solving. This is so that they can effectively communicate to clients whether an environment is safe or not, how it should be improved if not, and be on top of changes to any social distancing. People need assurance more than ever, and CPD must ensure that environmental health officers are entirely confident in providing this.

New Standardised Course Topics

In the field of environmental health and safety, best practice must be consistent across all training providers. If a company has to pay more for certain solutions that another environmental health officer does not see as necessary for them, then they may see it as unfair.

Therefore, we expect to see more standardised, compulsory modules in EHS CPD courses, so that there is no confusion between different EHS officers. This has already been a confusing enough couple of years, so EHS officers need to be trained to be reliable authority figures across the board.

In terms of these new CPD modules, these should include the skills and knowledge relevant for new legislation. They will need a much higher attention to detail, as health and safety considerations that may have been overlooked or not as strongly considered in the past, will now be paramount to follow to the letter. With how transient this legislation has been in the past year (and certain legislation has just been a personal preference as opposed to set in stone), you will also need a lot of patience when it comes to being told which legislation you do and do not need to learn to enforce. CPD topics might be ever-changing, which can be frustrating, so EHS officers need to be able to roll with the punches and adapt quickly.

EHS Software

Along with the biggest health crisis we’ve encountered in our lifetimes, this new decade is also bringing changes to environmental health and safety software. This is a technology used by companies to organise their activities and risks. EHS officers in 2021 need to be able to understand and make decisions based on the metrics shown in this software, in order to base their reports off of some of this data.

However, this can make the job of an EHS officer somewhat easier. If one is inspecting a company that uses such software, then if valuable employees have left the organisation (or are simply absent due to self-isolation), they’re not taking away the critical knowledge about the business’s health and safety activities; the data can simply and easily be checked on the company’s EHS system.

Do you organise CPD or training for environmental health and safety officers? Workplace-based training is another key feature of CPD for EHS, but not everyone can access it in-person. If you’d like a technical team to livestream or record your training sessions so that they are more accessible to more learners, contact us here.

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