Designation of authorised officers and appointment of environmental health officers

What is an authorised officer?

An authorised officer is a person or class of persons who are designated the authority to administer and enforce provisions of the Act on behalf of the enforcement agency [section 24].

 The Act enables an enforcement agency to designate as an authorised officer:
  • environmental health officers, as appointed under the Act; or
  • persons who are not appointed environmental health officers, but who possess other appropriate qualifications and experience to perform particular functions under the Act or other Acts; or
  • a mixture of both.

Who is responsible for designating a person as an authorised officer? [section 24]

It is the responsibility of the enforcement agency (the local government) to designate persons or a class of persons as authorised officers [section 24].

Who is responsible for keeping a record of authorised officers designated by the local government? [section 27]

Local government must prepare and maintain a list of designated authorised officers [section 27]. Although it is not specified in the Act, it is recommended that the list includes:
  • the person’s name 
  • persons job title
  • qualifications and experience that were considered in their designation 
  • date of designation 
  • specify the Acts and provisions of the Acts the designation relates to
  • listed any conditions or restrictions of designation
The maintenance of a list of authorised officers may form part of the local government annual reporting requirements to the Chief Health Officer [section 22].

Can two or more local governments designate the same authorised officer? [section 24(4)]

Two or more local governments may jointly designate a person or classes of persons as authorised officers [section 24(4)]. Unfortunately the person must be issued with separate certificate of authority cards for each enforcement agency.

Appointment of environmental health officers [section 17]

Any person appointed as an environmental health officer under section 17 of the Public Health Act must have at least one of the qualifications and/or experience approved and gazetted by the Chief Health Officer under section 18

The appointment of an EHO is the responsibility of local government and does not need to be in writing. The appointment can be done in accordance with whatever process is used by a local government for employing staff. 

A person appointed as an environmental health officer under section 17 of the Public Health Act may be designated as an authorised officer in writing and be issued with a certificate of authority.

Persons who are not environmental health officers [section 25]

An enforcement agency may designate as an authorised officer persons who are not also an appointed environmental health officer in accordance with section 25 of the Public Health Act. This can be done if the enforcement agency considers the person has appropriate qualifications and experience to perform the particular functions that they will be designated to perform. The Act enables an enforcement agency to specify conditions or restrictions to which the person’s authority is subject, based on their qualifications and experience.

Although an enforcement agency has the discretion to assess what will constitute appropriate qualifications and experience, when making these designations an enforcement agency must have regard to any Chief Health Officer guidelines issued under section 29 of the Public Health Act.

As the Act is being implemented in a staged manner, the Chief Health Officer guidelines under section 29 will initially require that persons designated as authorised officers should:
  • hold a qualification approved by the Chief Health Officer under section 18 of the Public Health Act or
  • have been previously approved by the Executive Director, Public Health to be appointed as an environmental health officer, under the Health Act 1911 or 
  • hold qualifications and experience approved by the Western Australian Environmental Health Officers Professional Review Board.

As new subsidiary legislation under the Public Health Act is implemented, these guidelines will be updated to include other qualifications and experience. 

It is strongly recommended that during the implementation phase of the Public Health Act an enforcement agency follows the Chief Health Officer guidelines on the qualifications and experience for the designation of persons who are not appointed environmental health officers, as authorised officers.

EHO qualifications previously approved by the then EDPH

Persons who's qualifications were previously approved by the then Executive Director of Public Health (EDPH) under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 will not receive further acknowledgement of this approval from the Chief Health Officer. The EDPH provided a letter of approval at the time, which can continue to be shown as evidence of this approval to any new employer. 

EHO qualifications previously approved by the then EDPH under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911. 

Persons who’s qualifications were previously approved by the then Executive Director Public Health (EDPH) under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 will not receive further acknowledgement of this approval from the Chief Health Officer. The EDPH provided a letter of approval at the time, which can continue to be shown as evidence of this approval to any new employer.

Why aren't some of the environmental health qualifications of people who received approval from the previous EDPH or the WAEHORB on the recently published CHO Gazette?

The CHO gazette of approved qualifications only includes those qualifications formally accredited by the recognised professional body, Environmental Health Australia (EHA), as part of their national course accreditation policy, and those previously Gazetted as approved in Western Australia.

If a particular University qualification does not appear on the CHO Gazette it means the qualification has not been formally approved by either the EHA accreditation process or the Western Australian Environmental Health Officers Professional Review Board (WAEHOPRB).

Individuals who sought employment as an Environmental Health Officer, who believed they possessed a suitable qualification which was not accredited by the EHA or had previously been Gazetted, submitted a separate application to the WAEHORB for individual review.

The WAEHORB endorse additional qualifications and experience on a case by case basis, based on the persons skills, knowledge and professional experience, as well as their academic achievements.

This allows persons who did not possess an accredited qualification to seek employment as an environmental health officer in WA.

I have someone who has recently applied for a job as an authorised officer and does not have one of the qualifications in the CHO Guideline (section 29) or the CHO Gazette (section 18). Is there a process for reviewing qualifications I am uncertain about? 

The Western Australian Environmental Health Officers Professional Review Board(WAEHORB) was created in 1988 to assess qualifications appropriate to environmental health and advises the Chief Health Officer of their suitability for practice in Western Australia. Applicants who do not possess an approved qualification (listed in the CHO guideline or gazette) should approach the WAEHOPRB for further advice.

Applicants will be requested to provide a recent CV, copies of qualifications, and references from previous employers clearly setting out the nature of duties undertaken.

For further information please contact Vic Andrich, Secretary/Treasurer WAEHOPRB by emailing vic.andrich@health.wa.gov.au or publichealthact@health.wa.gov.au

Why aren't the EH qualifications of persons who received approval from the previous EDPH or the WAEHORB on the CHO Gazette?

The CHO gazette of approved qualifications only includes those qualifications formally accredited by the recognised professional body, Environmental Health Australia (EHA), as part of their national course accreditation policy, and those previously Gazetted as approved in Western Australia.

If a particular University qualification does not appear on the CHO Gazette it means the qualification has not been formally approved by either the EHA accreditation (external site) process or the Western Australian Environmental Health Officers Professional Review Board (WAEHOPRB).

Individuals who sought employment as an Environmental Health Officer, who believed they possessed a suitable qualification which was not accredited by the EHA or had previously been Gazetted, submitted a separate application to the WAEHORB for individual review.

The WAEHORB endorse additional qualifications and experience on a case by case basis, based on the persons skills, knowledge and professional experience, as well as their academic achievements.

This allows persons who did not possess an accredited qualification to seek employment as an environmental health officer in WA.

Is there a process for reviewing qualifications I am uncertain about?

The Western Australian Environmental Health Officers Professional Review Board (WAEHORB) was created in 1988 to assess qualifications appropriate to environmental health and advises the Chief Health Officer of their suitability for practice in WA. Applicants who do not possess an approved qualification (listed in the CHO guideline or gazette) should approach the WAEHOPRB for further advice.

Applicants will be requested to provide a recent CV, copies of qualifications, and references from previous employers clearly setting out the nature of duties undertaken. 

For further information please contact Vic Andrich, Secretary/Treasurer WAEHOPRB by emailing vic.andrich@health.wa.gov.au or publichealthact@health.wa.gov.au

Issuing a certificate of authority [section 30]

An authorised officer must be issued with, and show evidence on request, of their authorisation under the Act. This is achieved by issuing any person who is authorised under the Public Health Act with a ‘Certificate of Authority’ card. 

Section 30(2) sets out the requirements for the content of the certificate which must contain the following information:
(a) state that it is issued under the Act
(b) state the name of the person to whom it is issued and bear a photograph or digital image of that person and the person’s signature
(c) state the date, if any, on which it expires
(d) specify
a. the Acts or provisions of the Acts for the purposes of which the person is designated as an authorised officer
b. any provisions of an Act that are excluded from the designation
(e) specify any conditions or restrictions to which the person’s authority is subject; and
(f) bear the signature of the person by whom it is issued and state the capacity in which the person is acting in issuing the certificate.

Where necessary, a local government may issue an authorised officer with a temporary certificate of authority. This must comply with all of the above criteria other than the photograph/digital image and/or the designated authorised officer’s signature. A temporary certificate of authority is valid for a period not exceeding one month.

An authorised officer must carry their certificate of authority cards with them. If asked to show their ID card (section 30(3)) and he or she cannot, the authorised officer cannot exercise the relevant powers of the Act.

Consolidating authority cards [section 31(3)]

If a person is designated as an authorised officer for the purposes of another written law, and that other written law requires the officer to also be issued with a certificate or other document evidencing their identity or appointment, section 31(3) of the Act provides the ability for the authorised officer to consolidate these identity cards into the one identify card.

Temporary certificate of authority card [section 30(4) and 30(5)]

Where necessary, an enforcement agency may issue a temporary certificate of authority card. This must comply with all of the content criteria other than the requirement for a photograph/digital image and/or the person’s signature. A temporary certificate of authority may only be issued once and may be valid for a maximum period of one month. The temporary certificate has the same effect as an ordinary certificate of authority.

Specifying provisions of an Act on a certificate of authority [section 30(d)]

The enforcement agency is required to specify the Acts and provisions of those Acts for the purposes of which that officer is designated to perform. 

It is important to specify the specific Parts of the Public Health Act that the designation relates to on the certificate of authority, rather than only stating the Public Health Act 2016. This is because other Parts of the Public Health Act also require duties to be performed by authorised officers which may not be relevant to local government authorised officers. Therefore this distinction is required on the authority card.

All relevant sections of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 must also be listed. At stage 3 of implementation of the Public Heath Act, the term environmental health officer (EHOs) was change to 'authorised officer'. This meant that some parts of the Act that used to distinguish EHOs no longer does, so this must be specified on the card.  

Example wording: “The authorised officer is so designated for the purposes conferred by: 
  1. Part 8, 9, 14, 16 of the Public Health Act 2016 
  2. Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 sections 145(1), 157(2), 173 (paragraph (a) of the definition of authorised person), 181, 183, 184(1), 227(1), 228(1), 234(1), 257, 262(3), 265(1), 267(1)(c), 268(a), 277(1)(b) and (3), 280(2), 349(1), 351(1), (2) and (5), 352(1) and (2), 358(2) and 375
  3. Food Act 2008
  4. 15D(5) of the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 as an officer who is authorised to issue infringement notices for the offences specified under Schedule 1 of those regulations.
  5. Additional Acts can be added as required

Note: The certificate of authority does not need to reference subsidiary legislation, as a reference to an Act includes its subsidiary legislation. However, if an enforcement agency believes an authorised officer should be restricted from enforcing specific regulations; this may be listed as a condition or restriction in accordance with section 30(2)(e).

The only exception to this is that the authority card must have reference to the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 , which were amended on the 24th January 2017 if the authorised officer has been designation as an authorised officer for the purposes of issuing an infringement notice. Refer to the asbestos amendments information for advice on these amendments.

Specifying conditions or restrictions [section 30(e)]

The main parts of the Public Health Act that authorised officers must be designated for, and may need to be restricted on a certificate of authority depending on the persons experience include:
  • Part 8 – Registration and licensing
  • Part 9 – Notifiable infectious diseases and related conditions
  • Part 14 – Improvement notices and enforcement orders
  • Part 16 – Powers of entry, inspection and seizure

Asbestos amendments

The Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 were amended on the 24th January 2017 to increase the penalties for offences under the Regulations and to enable local governments to issue infringement notices for specified offences.

Regulation 15D(5) requires that Local Governments who wish to utilise the ability to issue or revoke infringement notices appoint persons as an authorised officer or approved officer, in writing, for the purposes of the Criminal Procedure Act 2004, Part 2.

Any person who is designated as an authorised officer under section 24(1) of the Public Health Act 2016, will also need to be appointed in writing to be an authorised officer for the purposes of the in order to issue infringement notices under the Regulations.

The local government must issue a person authorised to issue infringement notices with a certificate, badge or identity card identifying the officer as a person authorised to issue infringement notices under the Regulations.

A certificate of authority issued under section 30 of the Public Health Act 2016 (external site) may also serve this purpose if it includes wording to the following effect:

[Insert name of officer] is appointed by the [insert name of local government] under regulation 15D(5) of the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 as an officer who is authorised to issue infringement notices for the offences specified under Schedule 1 of those regulations.

For further information refer to the Asbestos amendments webpage.

Example certificate of authority

An example certificate of authority template is available on the non-prescribed forms section of this website.

This is not a prescribed form, and can be modified to suit local government’s requirements, as long as it contains the content specified in section 30(2).

Revoking or ceasing of a designation [section 28]

Any person designated to be an authorised officer by a local government ceases to be an authorised officer if the designation of the person is revoked or ceases to have effect [section 28]. 

An enforcement agency may revoke a designation in writing [section 32]

Where an authorised officer’s designation is revoked or ceases to have effect, the officer is required to return their certificate of authority to the local government as soon as practicable [section 32].

Useful resource

The Designation of authorised officer factsheet Stage 3 (PDF 200KB) released at stage 3 of implementation of the Public Health Act provides additional information on the requirements for local government to designate authorised officer following the 24 January 2017 when stage 3 was proclaimed.