Putting wrong things right - environmental health - Business Works
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Putting wrong things right - environmental health

by Graham Jukes OBE, CEO, CIEH Over many decades, the health of people and the environment have been improved by legislation and the work of professionals in the environmental health sector. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) represents over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors and Graham Jukes OBE, CEO of CIEH helps us understand the vital contribution the sector has made.

The Institute provides information, evidence and policy advice to local and national government and environmental and public health practitioners in the public and private sectors. As an awarding body, the CIEH also provides qualifications, events and support materials on topics relevant to health, wellbeing and safety to develop workplace skills and best practice.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety Act (1974) and there have been many jokes about its enforcement, but many vital changes have come about as a result of the Act. At our recent conference, we examined risk management today and Kevin Myers, Acting CEO of The Health and Safety Executive, spoke about health and safety from a regulators point of view. He reflected on how management of risk must lie with the creators of risk and how intrinsic health and safety was to fundamental business processes and success.

Last year's horse meat scandal resulted in the Elliott Review and Sarah Appleby, Secretary for the Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks commented that, "The Review has brought the idea of 'food crime' to the forefront as a real issue". The major part of the Elliott Review has been to restore public faith and 48 recommendations have been suggested as a result.

These are just two examples of the continuing importance of environmental health. The truth is that environmental health has a long and well-established importance to society and the health of people, so we decided to mark the recent Royal Diamond Jubilee by publishing a book that summarises the 60 years of improvement during the Queen's reign. I asked current and retired members to send in professional recollections and photographs from the previous 60 years. They responded in large numbers and this material has now been collated into a full-colour, 167-page, illustrated book.

In the first years of Queen Elizabeth's reign, cities were darkened by smog and living conditions were generally primitive. But over the next 60 years, the environmental health profession played a vital role in a public health revolution.

The book, Putting Wrong Things Right, shows how the members of a CIEH helped to make the UK a healthier and safer place. Since 1952 air quality has improved, the slums have been cleared and food has been made safer by the countless interventions of the environmental health profession.

Putting Wrong Things Right

In words and pictures, the book records in detail the London smog, the Aberfan disaster, slum landlord Peter Rachman's terror tactics, outbreaks of smallpox and typhoid, the BSE crisis, awareness of climate change and countless unacknowledged, but vital interventions that improved the quality of the nation's life.

"It was a labour of love putting this book together," said William Hatchet, Editor. "It's an account of an aspect of UK history that is not often talked about how improvements to our physical environment since the 1950s have been of great benefit to the nation's health and wellbeing. The book is designed as a corrective to the current view that we are over-regulated or that all regulation is bad. It was particularly gratifying talking to the older members of the CIEH and capturing their memories of the early-1950s and 1960s, while they are still around to tell their stories."

The book, Putting Wrong Things Right, (ISBN 978 1 906989 67 5 priced at £19.99) can be obtained via the CIEH - for more information, please visit: www.cieh.org

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