The routine work of an environmental health program must be planned ahead.

Developing a work plan allows the EHP to manage his or her time effectively. Without a good plan a lot of time can be wasted and very little gets done.

A work plan is like a road map. It gives people direction in their work. A good plan should show:

  • what is going to be done
  • when it is to be done
  • how it is to be done
A work plan should also show what equipment, materials and people will be needed so that the work can be done.

Some of the EHP's jobs will need to be done daily and others will need to be done as soon as the problems are reported. As well as this, there will be regular weekly and monthly tasks to be done.

Any EHP's work plan should include:
  • an outline of what these jobs are
  • the days they are to be done
  • the tools and equipment needed for each job
It is important that the council knows of the plan and approves it and that through the council the community will know what jobs will be coming up and how it will involve them.

From time-to-time there will be emergencies, such as a blocked toilet or a broken sewage pipe, which must be fixed immediately. The EHP's plan must allow some spare time each week so that routine jobs can be allocated new times when emergency work has to be done.

All plans should be worked out so that the jobs can be done within the hours for which EHPs are paid. Otherwise, they may get discouraged when they cannot get the work done or when they are doing work for which they are not being paid.

Yearly plans

It is a good idea at the beginning of a year to plan when all the major tasks, such as dog treatment and checklisting, will be done during the year. These jobs can then be marked on a special chart on which blank spaces are provided for each month of the year. This is called a yearly planner. The jobs to be done are written in the space on the chart at the date on which they are to be done.
Fig.  7.1: Yearly planner
Fig. 7.1: Yearly planner

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Weekly plans

Weekly plans also should be prepared. These plans contain the routine and major tasks (from the yearly planner) which the EHP decides to do on each day from Monday to Friday and the times at which they are going to be done. At the end of each week, the weekly plan for the following week should be prepared.

Planning an environmental health work program for a community requires a lot of thought, especially if it is a large community or there is need to plan the work of more than one EHP.

The planning process will need to include:
  • consultation with the community and its council on what they think should be done
  • all the routine environmental health work which the EHP knows must be done, for example, checklisting, dog dipping and rubbish collection
The routine work must be accepted as being important by the council and must take priority (first place) over any additional non-emergency tasks the Council may wish to be done.

It is the EHP's job to prepare the plan and explain it to the council. The EHP may, at times, need to convince the council and other people in the community about the importance of completing priority tasks before tackling others.

It is important to follow the work plan. There are many ways to plan a work program and these suggestions may be useful:
  1. The EHP will need to think about:
      • All the environmental health facilities that need to be checked. For example, sewage lagoons, rubbish tips and water tanks; and
      • Any environmental health problems which have been reported by the community or noted during checklisting will also need to be included.
      • This information can be used to make decisions about:
      • What tasks need to be done and how often; and
      • How much time needs to be left to deal with unexpected problems which have been reported or found. These decisions are placed on the planner showing when they are to be done. Time should be left on the planner for emergency jobs.
  2. If there are several EHPs, they should meet regularly to discuss the work that needs to be done and who is going to do it.
  3. Routine tasks which must be included in the plan include:
      • checklisting
      • equipment inventories and maintenance
      • regular environmental health jobs. For example, checking sewage lagoons and rubbish tips, pest control operations and dog dipping
      • health education/promotion activities
      • ordering replacement materials, such as pesticides, plumbing parts
      • office duties, such as filing, completing records, including daily timesheets and diaries
      • reporting to council and attending meetings
      • maintaining contact with the Environmental Health supervisor and/or the local EHO
Meetings should be held at the start of most working days to work out the details of how and when the jobs listed on the plan will be done.