Download PDF

The notion of a profession is a typical product of nineteenth century ingenuity: a curious blend of trade, business, craft, medieval guild, trade union and “society for the promotion of useful knowledge”. Reforms and developments that evolved in the nineteenth century in the profess­ ions of medicine, law and engineering, focussed essentially on four major issues: the establishment of programmes of education and training in a coherent body of knowledge leading to certificates of competence; public recognition of such competence, prefer­ ably with state backing; the right of the profession to regulate its own affairs, including entry to the profession and control over the conduct of its members; and collective defence of the interests of the profession against competing groups. The attainment of professional status thus demanded the creation of new institutions: “schools” in which the skills could be taught; professional knowledge; and professional associations for mutual help and collective defence.

Our Association has among its objects the promotion of efficiency and useful­ ness of members by, among other things, enforcing the observance of strict rules of personal conduct as a condition of membership. In addition the Association serves to protect the professional rights and duties of the profession; and is committed to affording government departments, profession­ al institutions and trade associations, facilities for ascertaining the collective views of environmental health officers. Regional branches have been circulated with information on proposed legislation for the statutory registration of certain professions and it has been agreed by central council to support the proposal
in principle and seek a consensus on a disciplinary code for members of the profession.

The legislation proposed by the Minister for Health is seen as an important development. It is in keeping with the policy of our Association to seek statutory registration of environmental health officers and for this reason we welcome it.