Although there are plenty of different specialisms within health and safety for hospitality, a career in environmental health in cafes, hotels and restaurants is very much sought-after. If you harbor a desire for such a career, then there are several skills you should be working on including, most importantly, the following six.

1.   A Working Knowledge of the Various Specialisms

Depending on the level of education you’ve undertaken thus far in the field of food health and safety, it may be the case that you’ve already chosen your preferred specialism.

Environmental Health Officers’ primary responsibility is to both enforce and administer legislation covering every single aspect of environmental health, as well as identifying and eradicating hazards relating to health and safety.

Within this umbrella definition of the core duties of an EHO, there are a number of specialisms which are outlined below:

  • Pest control
  • Environmental protection
  • Hygiene education
  • Infectious diseases
  • Water quality
  • Air pollution
  • Waste management
  • Food quality

2.   An Unrivalled Attention to Detail

As inspections form the basis of an EHO’s professional responsibility, it stands to reason that you’re likely already looking for ways and means to enhance your own aptitude for spotting smaller details which others regularly miss.

Luckily, there are a considerable number of proven-to-be effective methods of honing your attention to detail, such as keeping a tidy and organized home, practicing meditation and other mindfulness techniques, taking your time with each project, and even reading more books.

3.   Outstanding Interpersonal Skills

As you would expect, even though EHOs usually inspect a restaurant on their own, they’re part of a larger team working to ensure that legal government rulings surrounding the hospitality industry are constantly and thoroughly being adhered to.

This is why interpersonal and communication skills are absolutely mandatory, as often, once an inspection is complete and regardless of a positive or a negative outcome, you are then required to meet with colleagues and other professionals.

Furthermore, it’s a fine balance, a balance that you’ll only learn to manage once you’re out in the field, to maintain a professional and friendly conversational tone with the proprietor of the premises you’re inspecting.

4.   Familiarize Yourself with FSMS

One of the leading methods of maintaining excellent levels of food storage, preparation, and service, not to mention ensuring an establishment is ticking every associated legal box, is to implement a food safety management system.

In the UK, food safety management systems (FSMS) are actually a legal requirement in any establishment where food is served, and if you’re passionate and dedicated to your chosen career path, it’s time to learn all about them.

FSMS are especially useful in the case of larger pubs and restaurants, and provide a wealth of benefits for restaurateurs, including:

  • Employee retention
  • More accurate financial management
  • Stronger relationships with guests
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Forecasting and data analysis
  • Efficient levels of stock control

5.   Gain Experience in the Core Duties of an EHO

For anyone wanting to become a professional EHO, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need a master’s degree in a certain area of the industry, and rather, life experience and industry knowledge is usually preferred.

Regardless of the area of food health and safety that you’re most interested in, you need to gain practical, working knowledge in the key areas, as the most detailed textbook in the world can’t prepare you for a real-life inspection.

Inspections themselves involve taking immediate action if you discover anything dangerous in the wide variety of premises that an EHO is tasked with inspecting.

During each inspection, special attention needs to be paid to identifying and then subsequently reporting both serious and less severe violations to health and safety standards, and in some cases, if the hazard is perceived as potentially catastrophic, EHOs have the ability to close a restaurant.

It would also be very pertinent to ensure that you’ve passed your driving test, and specifically, have a clean driving license. Even though this isn’t a compulsory requirement, as EHOs travel from one establishment to the next, completing your day’s work would be substantially easier in a car.

6.   You Need to Care About Other People

Finally, a strong and innate thread of empathy should also come naturally to you as a prospective environmental health officer.

Obviously, you’re essentially doing everything you can within your professional remit to protect innocent, paying patrons from either blatant, or more subtle and concealed, health and safety dangers and hazards in their food.

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