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James Norgalis, Deputy Director
The Somerset County Department of Health Consumer Health inspects retail establishments on a regular basis to ensure that facilities are in compliance with the laws. Facilities such as:
- Body Art Establishments
- Child Care Centers
- Kennels and Pet Shops
- Massage Parlor
- Recreational Bathing
- Retail Food Establishments
- Sewage Disposal
- Smoke-Free Air Act
- Tanning Facility
- Well Construction and Water Analysis
- Youth Camps / Campgrounds
The Consumer Health Unit also investigates complaints regarding the following:
To protect the public's health, the Consumer Health Unit permits and inspects businesses that offer:
- Permanent cosmetics
- Ear and body piercing
All businesses that intend to perform body art procedures must get a license from the Municipality or Borough within the SCDOH service area prior to operation. Permitted businesses are then inspected once a year or more frequently if necessary.
Child care centers serving 6 or more children under the age of 13 must be licensed by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Local jurisdictions that require child care centers to be renewed annually will be inspected at least 1 time during the year. Those jurisdictions that do not require annual renewals will be inspected at least 1 time every 2 years.
These facilities are inspected for:
- General sanitation conditions
- Administrative concerns
- Physical structure issues that may pose a threat to occupants inside or outside the building.
The Consumer Health Unit investigates reports of Elevated Blood Lead Levels in children and investigates where the child resides to identify lead hazards within their environment. When hazards are found, the SCDOH will order a clean up of the residence.
The Consumer Health Unit inspects kennels and pet shops for general sanitation and animal welfare issues. All new facilities must submit a plan of the facility for review and approval to the SCDOH prior to operation. Permitted businesses are then inspected once a year or more frequently if necessary.
The Consumer Health Unit inspects these businesses that are licensed within the SCDOH service area in order to protect the public’s health.
These facilities are inspected for sanitation issues as well as the proper licensing of the individuals performing these activities. Inspections are conducted at least once a year.
The Consumer Health Unit responds to reports from the public regarding public health nuisances. These include the following issues:
- Vermin (insects / rodents)
- Heat (Rental units)
- Mold (Rental units)
- Garbage and Debris
- Property Maintenance Issues
- Water supply (Rental units)
- Sewage Disposal (Septic malfunctions / Sewer overflows)
- Housing (Multiple Family Dwellings)
The Consumer Health Unit receives and investigates reports of animal bites to humans in order to control exposure to known or suspected rabid animal.
- SCDOH will work with hospitals and medical facilities to advise victims on proper treatment options.
- Owners of animals that have attacked or bitten a person are contacted and sent a Notice of Confinement from the Municipality or Borough.
- After 10 days, animals are checked for signs of rabies by SCDOH staff
- If the animal shows no signs of disease, it is released from quarantine.
- Individuals bitten by wild animals or strays are referred to their physicians to determine if rabies treatment is appropriate.
Most municipalities or Boroughs within the SCDOH service area have ordinances requiring licensing of dogs and sometimes cats. The ordinances require owner to have proof of current rabies shots for their pets.
The Consumer Health Unit inspects public recreational bathing places including:
- Swimming pools
- Wading pools
- Hot tubs
- Bathing beaches
- New or altered swimming pools, wading pools, hot tubs, and spas
Most facilities are inspected twice per year. A recreational bathing pool or spa may be closed by SCDOH when such action is necessary to abate a present or threatened menace to public health. This could include conditions such as physical safety hazards or failure to meet water quality standards.
The Consumer Health Unit inspects all restaurants and other retail food establishments at least once a year. This also includes:
- Daycare centers
- Special events
- Any place where food is served or sold to the public
Staff also investigate complaints regarding retail food establishments and food-borne disease outbreaks with the County Epidemiologist.
If you are opening a new establishment or renovating an existing establishment, you must call the Somerset County Department of Health to submit plans and arrange for a pre-operational inspection.
Information packets and applications are found on the "Applying for a permit" page.
The Consumer Health Unit witnesses permeability tests, reviews septic system designs and issues permits for new system installation and existing systems requiring an alteration or repair.
The Unit also investigates reports of malfunctioning septic systems, public sewer overflows and odors associated with both.
For information on septic system maintenance please refer to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection website at http://www.nj.gov/dep/dwq/pdf/septicmn.pdf or contact this Department.
Effective April 15, 2006, indoor public places and workplaces across the State were made smoke free to ensure that workers, children, and senior citizens can breathe smoke free air in public places.
The law affects the following types of indoor public places and workplaces:
- Any enclosed location at which a person performs any service or labor
- Restaurants and bars
- Public transportation systems
- Child care centers
- Health care facilities, patient waiting rooms and nursing homes
- Sports facilities including racetracks and bowling alleys
- Theatres, clubs, concert halls, public libraries, museums, art galleries
- Shopping malls and retail stores
- Parking facilities, lobbies, elevators
- Lodging – hotels, motels, etc. (smoking is allowed in up to 20% of guest rooms)
- Bingo facilities
The SCDOH can assist the public and business owners alike in providing information, education and enforcement of this law. Click here for more information on the requirements to obtain an exemption from the New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act.
In 2009, regulations went into effect that established minimum safety and sanitation standards for the operation of tanning facilities in order to protect the health and safety of consumers that patronize these businesses.
All tanning facilities are required to register with the New Jersey Department of Health.
The rules cover areas such as:
- Patron age requirements
- Employee training
- Record keeping
The Consumer Health Unit personnel perform annual inspections at these tanning facilities.
In 2013, New Jersey amended the tanning facilities law. Under the new law, minors under 17 years of age are banned from using tanning beds and minors less than 14 years of age are prohibited from using spray-tanning facilities.
The Consumer Health Unit:
- Reviews plans for the construction and installation of residential potable and non-potable wells
- Physically inspects all new well installations
- Reviews required water analysis to ensure compliance with state and local standards
- Responds to and investigates water samples that exceed water quality standards
Public campgrounds and youth camps are inspected annually for:
- Sanitary conditions
- Site conditions
- Hazard activity
- Water front safety
- Food and water safety