Environmental Health is a broad term that covers many topics. A local community decides which topics are important to provide local programs. The Environmental Health Division is responsible for several programs that include permitting and inspecting food establishments, childcare facilities, swimming pools, general sanitation conditions, health nuisances and on-site sewage facilities.
The mission of the Environmental Health Division is to identify and correct conditions in the environment that may cause disease or disease outbreaks. This is accomplished primarily by performing inspections. To be as effective as possible in accomplishing our mission, comprehensive approaches are utilized which may be regulatory, advisory, consultative, academic, investigative and enforcement in nature.
The Environmental Health Division of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District consists of one program administrator, one inspection supervisor, one senior sanitarian, five sanitarians, two inspectors, one environmental inspector, two customer service representatives and one part time secretary. Their territory covers all of McLennan County including each incorporated city and the City of Waco.
The duties they are responsible for fall into six broad categories:
- Food Establishments Regulations
- Childcare inspections
- Swimming pool inspections
- General Sanitarian/Complaint investigation
- On-Site Sewage Facility (OSSF) program
Food Establishment Regulation:
This program is very comprehensive in nature. A variety of establishments are permitted and inspected where food is stored, prepared, served, or sold. This includes establishments such as restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, cafeterias, schools, nursing homes, institutions, bars, temporary food booths at special events, mobile food vendors, etc.
Activities to effectively administer the program include regulatory, advisory, consultative, education, inspection, investigation, enforcement, and administrative.
The division provides food education classes at two levels:
- A basic food safety course for all food workers
- A basic food safety course for childcare food workers
- A state accredited course for food managers
- A food safety course for childcare food managers
Each year, approximately 4200 food workers and 250 food managers receive training in food safety.
*Please note, all classes will be taught at MCC*
*Please note, effective 01/01/12 we no longer offer the Food Safety Class on Wednesday from 3-5pm.
Child Care Inspections:
Annual sanitation inspections of licensed childcare facilities are performed under the guidelines of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Care Regulatory Services Division. These inspections ensure a healthy environment for the children. Inspections are also provided for foster and adoptive homes upon request.
Swimming Pool Inspection:
Public and semipublic pools and spas in the incorporated cities of McLennan County are permitted and inspected each year. These facilities are typically located at hotels, motels, apartments, fitness clubs, neighborhoods and city property. These inspections provide standards to ensure water quality is safe and all pool facilities are maintained in a safe condition. Other pools in the county may be inspected upon request.
General Sanitation/Complaint Investigation:
A request for assistance and complaint investigation is a regular activity of the division. Inspections are performed for a variety of conditions dealing with health nuisances related to food, property conditions, mosquitoes and rodents, premise sanitation, improper solid waste and wastewater disposal, etc. If staff members are unable to help, the individual requesting assistance is referred to the appropriate agency that can best assist the individual with their problem.
This division is part of the public health response team to investigate disease outbreaks and respond to disasters and other major emergencies.
The Health District encourages cities to adopt smoking ordinances to provide smoke free indoor environments. Those cities within the Health District that have an ordinance are Bellmead, Hallsburg, Hewitt, Robinson, Woodway and Waco. This division provides information about these ordinances and enforces the provisions as necessary.
OSSF (Onsite Sewage Facilities) Program:
The On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF) program is the Designated Representative for McLennan County and oversees all installations and maintenance of septic systems and other types of sewage disposal systems. This program is comprehensive in nature since the goal is to eliminate and prevent health hazards by regulating, properly planning and inspecting the location, design, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of all on-site sewage disposal systems.
This division acts as an information clearing house for environmental health topics. The definition of environmental health is a board term that includes a variety of subjects ranging from air to water to solid waste to food to sanitation, etc. Since this division addresses only a portion of this, we try to provide information and referrals that will be helpful to the requester. The sanitarians are available to speak to groups about environmental health topics addressed by this division.
Coordination with other agencies is also a vital part of what we do. Efforts are coordinated on a regular basis with state agencies such as the Department of State Health Services, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Care Regulatory Services Division. Coordination with local government agencies occurs on a frequent basis. As an example, the sanitarians coordinate inspection activities with the Code Enforcement and Inspections Departments of all cities in McLennan County.