The Health Agents provide a broad scope of public health services to the community while enforcing the state Sanitary and Environmental Codes. These services include: policy development, issuance of permits and licenses, ongoing inspections and surveillance, and reporting of potential foodborne illnesses. Implementation and enforcement of state and federal regulation requirements and applicable local laws and administrative rules and regulations is the number one priority to assure compliance with environmental quality and public health protection objectives.
The Environmental Health Agents protect the public's health by monitoring and regulating a variety of establishments throughout town. They license and conduct inspections of:
- All permitted retail / food service establishments (including mobile food vendors, home kitchens, caterers, etc.), at least every 6 months:
- Temporary food events
- Retail Tobacco establishments (every six months)
- Public / semi-public pools and special purpose pools
- Domestic Animals
- Establishments that use sharps within the community
- A bottling company
- The agents also actively review proposed plans and conduct inspections of new/upgraded Title V septic system installations or repairs. They also review Septic Abandonment/Connection to municipal sewer forms.
- They review new or renovated Food establishment design plans, Additions or renovations to homes on septic system
- They review Notification of Demolition applications, Septic Hauler/Installer permit applications, and Well permit applications (Irrigation / Geothermal / Monitoring).
- They review Domestic Animal permit applications and conduct inspections/quarantine animals as needed.
- Routine Tobacco Compliance checks are also conducted at all of the permitted retail tobacco establishments.
- They also conduct annual Chapter II Sanitary Housing inspections.
- They inspect Subdivision Lots prior to the release of off-street drainage bonds.
- The Environmental Health Agents follow-up on a variety of complaints (Food/Nuisance/Housing), along with responding to work place Tobacco smoking complaints.
The Environmental Health Agents actively work with other town departments in providing environmental risk assessment and control. In addition, to ensure environmental quality, the agents respond rapidly to environmental emergencies. Another primary focus is to improve community awareness of public health issues and to help reduce the incidence of seasonal public health concerns by providing health education and information to Needham residents.
This is accomplished through newspaper articles, cable slots, on-site trainings, and by providing in-house brochures and state / federal website links which contain up to date public health information. They continue to actively serve on committees in town. And they continue to be involved in a variety of seminars and on-going training sessions to remain apprised of today's public health issues.