What should I expect in Trading Standards? - Early careers in Public Health - Working for Essex

What should I expect in Trading Standards? – Early careers in Public Health

As part of our World Consumer Rights Day content, we got in touch with Harriet, one of our fantastic Regulatory Compliance apprentices. Read on to hear her brilliant insight into what she faces on a day-to-day basis in her role:

“I changed career from hospitality management in March 2022 and have just gone past my year anniversary of working at Trading Standards. I really didn’t know what to expect but was looking for a varied role. When I was issued my stab vest in my second week I knew I had chosen correctly…

Trading standards enforce over 250 pieces of legislation from underage sales to illicit tobacco with its main focus on ensuring consumer safety and fairness, protecting the vulnerable and creating a level playing field for legitimate business. I’m always interested in learning something new so when the opportunity arose to undertake some petroleum work I was happy to be involved; although I had no idea I would actually like it. I should hopefully qualify as a petroleum officer by the end of March, a role that in Essex is carried out by Trading Standards. I have been involved in a petroleum weights and measures project where we checked that the amounts being dispensed were within legal parameters – This was of particular importance at the time due to fuel cost and the increased cost of living.”

“I have attended newly built sites to help assess their safety before opening, involving wearing a hard hat – Another item of clothing I never saw myself wearing. We also conduct regular petroleum audits of open sites across the county to assess their safety and compliance under legislation as well as promoting best practice principles and educating businesses to ensure future compliance. Situations are often dealt with by issuing advice and working alongside business, but enforcement action will be taken in cases of severe non-compliance, normally starting with an infringement notice, we will then follow up to ensure appropriate action has been taken…

We sometimes have to assess a situation and react accordingly; I recently attended a petroleum audit with a colleague where we detected the strong smell of gas on the forecourt. After a brief discussion with the business we contacted the gas board, who attended swiftly and identified a leaking gas main under the pavement at the edge of the forecourt. We worked with the business to shut the forecourt (to remove sources of ignition) while the gas company attended the leak. Although the situation was not within our normal parameters, it shows the importance of the safety work we do and enabled a potentially catastrophic situation to be dealt with quickly and efficiently, working with other officials and the business to create a safe environment for all involved.”

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