Before anyone can be expected to comply with environmental health regulations, they must first know the regulations and understand the purpose of the regulations.
The first step in the enforcement of regulations is EDUCATION.
Unfortunately, in some cases, education is not the last step. There are times when an individual knows of the existence of regulation, but may not know of the consequences associated with non-compliance with regulation. In these situations, we typically employ the practice of an OFFICE CONFERENCE. During an office conference, the violator is summoned to our office to discuss the violation. We also explain the consequences of a failure to comply with the regulation. We discuss any issue that may prevent a person from complying with the regulations. This is the last step before a monetary penalty is levied against a violator. However, when it is obvious that the violator knows the regulation and there is a blatant disregard for the law, the office conference step may be bypassed at the discretion of the Department.
The STIPULATION OFFER is yet another avenue that we may take to provide an incentive for a person or facility to comply with the regulations. A Notice of Violation (NOV)is included with a Stipulation Offer. An NOV describes the violation, cites the violated code section, provides the date of the violation, and provides the maximum assessable penalty for that violation. A Stipulation Offer is generally a smaller penalty than the maximum allowed so as to provide an incentive to avoid an official hearing. Acceptance of a Stipulation Offer will close out that case. However, if an alleged violator does not choose to accept the Stipulation Offer, they have the right to appear before a Hearing Officer to state their case. After hearing the case, the Hearing Officer will make a recommendation to the Board of Health. The Board of Health will then render an Order. The Order could be that the case is suspended, or it could result in an order to pay a monetary penalty. Failure to comply with an order of the Board of Health could then become a civil violation that could be punishable with a fine, imprisonment, or both.
Listed below is a link to a chart showing the enforcement actions that have been finalized so far this year (actions listed in blue ink on the chart have not been finalized yet and are still pending):