Regulations Under the Public Health Act
The Environmental Health team inspects, monitors, regulates and provides advice on environmental factors that can affect human health such as water cooling systems, skin penetration practices, public swimming pools and spa pools, disposal of the deceased, and drinking water. Click on the headings below to find out what regulatory environmental health involves at the Public Health Unit.
Environmental health officers monitor and provide advice regarding the installation, operation and maintenance of water cooling systems to prevent or inhibit the growth of micro-organisms that cause Legionnaires' disease. Additionally officers investigate notifications of Legionnaires' disease and coordinate outbreak investigations in accordance with NSW Health protocols.
Information about Legionella and Legionnaires' disease is available on the Legionella Control page on the NSW Health website.
Skin penetration includes activities that involve the deliberate penetration or removal of skin, such as tattooing, piercing, waxing and nail art. Environmental health officers of the Public Health Unit investigate complaints of inadequate infection control practices by skin penetration operators, as well as notification of newly-acquired blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C, and human immunodeficiancy virus (HIV) to determine if exposure is related to skin penetration activities
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Public swimming pools, spa pools and splash parks, if not appropriately managed, can pose a risk to public health through the spread of illness. Environmental health officers inspect public swimming pools and spa pools for compliance with the Public Health Act 2010, the Public Health Regulation 2012 and Schedule 1 of the Public Regulation (2012) Requirements for Public Swimming Pools and Spa Pools.
This may involve checking pool disinfection systems, surrounds, toilets, change rooms and plant rooms, as well as chemical and microbiological testing of pool or spa water. Public pools, spas and splash parks may be closed if reasonable grounds exist to suspect a risk to public health.
The Public Health Unit investigates water-borne disease notifications associated with swimming in a pool, including cryptosporidiosis.
Information about the public health risks associated with public swimming and spa pools, and steps to healthy swimming is available on the NSW Health website.
To limit the risk to the public from the disposal and management of deceased persons the Public Health Unit Environmental Health team are involved in regulating a number of activities including the following:
The removal of human remains from a grave or crypt for the purpose of relocation to another burial site requires approval by delegation from the Secretary of Health. Environmental health officers attend the procedure to ensure that the correct remains are exhumed and other conditions are observed to protect the health of the public.
Transportation overseas of bodies of deceased persons
Funeral directors requesting that the remains of a deceased person be transported overseas require authorisation from the Public Health Unit to confirm that these bodies are free from diseases that may pose a risk to public health.
NSW Health maintains a register of Mortuaries within the State. Officers may conduct audits of funeral businesses and facilities for handling bodies in response to complaints or issues raised. Audits may include inspection of cleaning procedures, waste disposal, viewing areas, storage of bodies and cremation paperwork.
Information on the funeral industry regulations and requirements is available on the NSW Health website.
Good quality drinking water is essential for a healthy lifestyle to be achieved. The 2011 Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) incorporates the “Framework for the Management of Drinking Water Quality” and provides the water authority with guidance.
The Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulation 2012 require drinking water suppliers to develop and adhere to a quality assurance program (QAP). QAPs are required to be submitted to the Public Health Unit for review and possible on-site inspection. Information is available here on the NSW Health website.