Occ. Code 4412200










New York State Department of Civil Service


Classification Standard




Sanitarians enforce the provisions of the Public Health Law and New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations relating to environmental health, sanitation, and safety. These provisions incorporate by reference many other technical standards, such as those of the National Fire Protection Association, the National Plumbing Code, etc.  Incumbents determine the compliance of facilities or assess public health problems in the following areas: structure and space provisions; mechanical and electrical systems; ventilation/air conditioning/heating; fire safety (structural and operational); housekeeping; maintenance; laundry; infection control; pest control; solid waste disposal; water supply; plumbing; sewage disposal; accident prevention; dietary/food sanitation; disaster preparedness; hazardous wastes/biohazard wastes; air pollution; and medical systems.


            Sanitarians apply the principles of biological and physical sciences and the skills of assessing environmental features to maintain, protect, and improve the health and safety of the public.


Sanitarians may develop environmental standards, conduct inspections, educate and inform the public, act as a regulatory agent, testify as expert witnesses, obtain correction of violations through informal or formal hearings, train facility operators and facility and local health personnel to respond to public health emergencies, conduct epidemiological investigations, investigate serious injuries and deaths, assess public health problems, provide technical assistance, and recommend preventive measures.


            These positions are classified in the Department of Health and in the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.








PUBLIC HEALTH SANITARIAN: entry level: performs routine duties independently.


SENIOR SANITARIAN: performs more complex inspections and investigations; e.g., those involving controversial or sensitive issues or those requiring more in-depth knowledge; may supervise subordinate staff. 


PRINCIPAL SANITARIAN: conducts surveillance and investigations; plans, directs, and reviews the work of lower level staff; and provides technical assistance and policy interpretation to staff, facilities, and local government units. 


CHIEF SANITARIAN: directs environmental health programs, recommends goals and objectives, develops program policies and procedures, evaluates program effectiveness, and establishes statewide program priorities.




The location of the positions within an agency determine the types of facilities in which incumbents perform their duties.  The emphasis of an incumbent's duties may also vary based on the types of facilities incumbents are responsible for. 


In the Department of Health:


Office of Public Health:  incumbents’ duties are directly related to the health, safety and welfare of the public. They perform their duties in the following types of facilities/sites: food service establishments (including temporary, mobile and vending); children’s camps; temporary residences, such as hotels and motels; campgrounds; mobile home parks; labor camps; schools; swimming pools; and bathing beaches. Incumbents also conduct evaluations of environmental contamination as related to public health.  Sites would include residences (evaluated for asbestos con­tamination) and hazardous waste sites.


Offices of Health Systems Management and Continuing Care: incumbents are concerned with the safety, sanitation, comfort and welfare of patients/residents of health care and adult care facilities. Incumbents participate in the regulatory/surveillance program in the area of environmental health. They are responsible for ensuring an environment in which patient care can be delivered safely and appropriately. Incumbents enforce and ensure facility compliance with the federal conditions of participation for the Title XVIII (Medicare) and Title XIX (Medicaid) programs as well as with NYS Codes, Rules and Regulations. Health care and adult care facilities include hospitals; nursing homes; intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded; ambulatory care facilities, such as diagnostic and treatment centers, clinics, etc.; and adult care facilities including adult homes, enriched housing programs and assisted living programs.


In the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities:


            Incumbents are concerned with safety and sanitation in the Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities facilities and with the comfort and welfare of consumers who reside in them.  They provide technical assistance to the facilities in connection with safety and sanitation issues as well as environmental factors influencing consumers’ psychological well-being and medical care; and participate in the regulatory/surveillance programs in the areas of environmental health and enforce and ensure facility compliance with the Federal and State conditions of participation for the Title XIX (Medicaid) and Article 31 programs.  (These facilities include agency operated developmental centers; Community Residences; Community-based Intermediate Care Facilities; Family Care Homes; Day Treatment Programs; Day Training Programs; Private Schools for the Mentally Retarded/Developmentally Disabled; and Intermediate Care Facilities.)




Conduct environmental health inspections/surveys.


-          Conduct on-site inspections of facilities/sites to ensure health and welfare of the public/patients/residents and to ensure compliance with applicable standards/criteria; and conduct follow-up inspections to ensure correction of deficiencies, as necessary.


-          Evaluate observations and prepare reports of findings noting conditions found, citing violations/deficiencies and recommending corrective action; and describe violations/deficiencies to facility operators, as assigned.


-          Testify at enforcement proceedings presenting inspection findings, as needed.


Participate in epidemiological investigations or control of emergencies. Emergencies may include complaints, nosocomial, food-borne or waterborne disease outbreaks, fire and disaster emergencies, and labor strikes at health care facilities.


Collect samples of food and water for laboratory testing and interpret labo­ratory reports.


Assist in training local sanitarians/inspectors.


Assist in preparation of news releases and other public relations materials regarding environmental health programs.




In the Department of Health:


Office of Public Health:


-          Conduct or direct on-site inspections to ensure compliance with applicable standards/criteria.


-          Review and evaluate building plans and water supply, sewage disposal, fire safety, electrical, re-circulation, and disinfection systems; obtain assistance from engineering staff as necessary for approval of plans for water supply systems, sewage systems, fire safety systems, building construction, etc.


-          Prepare or review correspondence/reports outlining results, cited deficiencies, and required corrective action.


-          Consult with/advise facility operators/owners to ensure operation in accordance with applicable standards and to correct violations.


-          Prepare legal/enforcement action as necessary to obtain compliance and testify as expert witness to present inspection findings during hearings.


-          Recommend issuance of permits and prepare permits and other necessary paperwork for their issuance.


-          Respond to emergencies (fires, floods, power failures, toxic spills, complaints, illnesses, etc.) involving the above facilities.


Provide technical assistance and training, as necessary, to owners/operators/managers and staff regarding requirements.


Respond to telephone and written inquiries from owners/operators/managers and the general public regarding programs.


Administer rabies program.


-          Ensure that animal bite reports are investigated; collect specimens suspect for rabies; forward specimens to labo­ratory for analysis; confer with local medical personnel, as necessary, regarding need for rabies treatment for individuals bitten by suspect animals.


Administer specialty programs (lead poisoning, asbestos, formaldehyde, hazardous waste site contamination, etc.) and programs involving nuisance complaints, service requests (individual water and sewage), rodent and vermin control, communicable diseases.


-          Conduct investigations of reports of lead poisoning, presence of asbestos, etc; collect samples and coordinate with public health nursing services, as necessary/appropriate; assist public in matters of environmental health and work with local health officers.


-          Monitor reports of diseases and identify patterns or groupings of cases; make recommendations on the management of persons with communicable diseases in regulated facilities.


-          Prepare reports and ensure receipt by appropriate parties.


Work with local governmental units to secure improvements in local sanitation through the creation of sanitary inspector positions, selection and training of local personnel, and the adoption or revision of local sanitary codes.


Address community groups on topics related to environmental health. Prepare periodic reports of program status, perform other related duties as assigned.


In the Office of Public Health field or district offices:


May serve as administrator or supervisor of one or more specific program areas.


-          Evaluate program and assess status; define program goals and objectives.


-          Plan areas of concentration and identify facilities to be inspected; coordinate workload.


-          Supervise Sanitarian Trainees, Public Health Inspectors and Student Assistants; assign and review work.


-          Train subordinate professional staff.


-          Maintain records.





In the Health Department’s Offices of Health Systems Management and Continuing Care:




Inspect/survey health and adult care facilities (as defined above) to ensure compliance with applicable standards/criteria.


-          Record pertinent observations.


-          Interact with facility administration and staff to obtain information essential to the regulatory process.


-          Take necessary steps to eliminate imminent health hazards.


-          Facilitate correction of observed deficiencies.


-          Determine degree of code non-compliance.


-          Interact with other disciplines and coordinate findings with other survey team members.


-          Follow up on surveys to ensure that the deficiencies and problems cited are corrected or that appropriate plans have been made to rectify the situation.


-          Review facility’s plan of correction and determine acceptability in regard to corrective action and time frame.


-          Determine status of corrective action at follow-up visit; for uncorrected deficiencies, a decision is made as to degree of non-compliance (i.e., inadequate or acceptable progress), and a new plan of correction is obtained and reviewed on-site.


-          Write reports describing the areas in which the facility is not in conformity with State and/or federal requirements.


-          Recommend and prepare enforcement actions due to non-compliance.


-          Participate in administrative hearings with regard to enforcement action.


Conduct investigations of complaint reports involving environmental aspects.


-          Investigate complaints and incidents for the Long Term Care, Adult Care, Hospital and Primary Care and other central and regional office programs involving environmental aspects.


-          Conduct interviews to obtain pertinent information regarding the facts/circumstance of the allegation.


-          Coordinate complaint investigation with local authorities where applicable.


-          Prepare detailed written reports and analysis, including recommen­dation for Department actions (i.e., enforcement) and statements of deficiencies generated as a result of the complaint investigation.


Conduct epidemiological investigations.


Provide consultation on environmental and other areas of professional expertise to other regional and central office programs.


Review non-engineering aspects of facility construction applications and comment on appropriateness; accompany architects and engineers in inspection of construction projects to assure patient care and safety will not be adversely affected upon project completion.


Make initial recommendation on waivers of structural standards, environmental standards, and standards for the physically handicapped to ensure that the waiver of such requirements does not adversely affect the health and safety of patients/residents.


Participate in emergency response actions at health and adult care facilities (e.g., disease outbreaks, fires or other disasters, labor strikes, etc.) as needed.


May assign and review work of Public Health Sanitarians.


In the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities:


Senior Sanitarians:


Inspect/survey or in some cases provide technical assistance to Mental Retardation facilities to ensure compliance with applicable standards/criteria.






Principal Sanitarians:


In the Department of Health, Office of Public Health:


Plan, direct, and review work of Senior Sanitarians.


Plan and direct regional or Statewide environmental health programs.


-          Develop program policies and procedures.


-          Evaluate program effectiveness and progress.


-          Ensure adherence to policies/criteria.


-          Maintain reporting system to make data available for program planning and evaluation; interpret and summarize data and make recommendations for its use.


-          Provide staff with information required for inspections, follow up on uncorrected efficiencies and follow up on local units reporting abnormally low levels of violations.


-          Provide technical expertise and regulation interpretation to ensure uniform application.


Make recommendations for program revision/improvement.


Recommend and develop Sanitary Code provisions.


Study present and proposed local regulations to determine conformity with the Public Health Law, the Sanitary Code, and existing federal regulations; prepare recommendations for revisions in local codes not in conformity.


Prepare interpretations of provisions of regulations and directives to achieve uniform application by all local sanitarians/inspectors; evaluate local programs to secure uniformity in interpretation and enforcement of regulations/directives.


Assess local/district/county training needs; arrange for and develop training programs; conduct or participate in training in regard to technical matters and Department policies and procedures.


Provide technical consultation to local units.


Review local/district/county plans submitted with applications for State aid; approve State aid payments; ensure appropriate utilization of State/federal funds; review quarterly reports to assess progress.


Review case reports and initiate enforcement action; participate in/testify to hearings.


As necessary, conduct inspections and process permits.


Respond to inquiries from the public, business and civic organizations, and State and federal governmental agencies.


Respond to requests from and prepare correspondence for executive staff.


Prepare and/or review periodic reports of program status.


In the Department of Health Offices of Health Systems Management and Continuing Care:


Principal Sanitarians:


Supervise professional staff in the conduct of surveys/inspections of health and adult care facilities:


-          Coordinate staff activities.


-          Provide guidance, technical supervision, and consultation to staff in the performance of their duties.


-          Evaluate work performance and train staff to upgrade performance.


-          As required, participate in surveys of facilities requiring special attention due to special or unusual problems/circumstances; resolve controversial and critical issues in accordance with departmental policy.


-          Prepare and review material pertinent to legal and regulatory activities.


-          Prepare and review materials for the consumer information system.


-          Review and evaluate staff survey reports/documentation for submission to surveillance team leaders for incorporation into survey results.


-          Review facility plans of correction for deficiencies cited during surveys; make recommendations to facilities as necessary.


-          Serve as specialist in the initiation and administration of uniform enforcement of environmental health regulations.


Participate in administrative hearings.


Respond to complaint and incident reports.


-          Assign staff to investigate general complaints and violations of the Patient Abuse Law to ensure compliance with the law.


-          Conduct on-site inspections and monitoring as necessary.


-          Review and/or prepare reports of investigations; advise facilities of findings and obtain necessary corrections.


Review or supervise review of construction applications for comment on appropriateness; accompany or assign staff to accompany architects and engineers on inspection of construction projects to assure patient care and safety will not be adversely affected upon project completion.


Review and make recommendations on requests for waivers of requirements for construction or physical environment.


Provide assistance to other staff in the interpretation of policies, rules, and regulations; make on-site observation to observe effects of those regulations, which are a hardship upon facilities; prepare recommendations for regulation policy revision.


Respond to nosocomial disease outbreaks, fire and disaster emergencies, scofflaw operations, and labor strikes.


-          Assign staff to investigate/monitor physical and environmental effects of the above emergencies.


-          As necessary, conduct investigations/monitoring.


-          Prepare review findings; make recommendations regarding enforcement remedial action.


-          Advise facility of findings and obtain corrective action as neces­sary.


-          Keep supervisors informed of status of emergencies.



In the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities:


Principal Sanitarians


Supervise professional staff in the conduct of survey inspections of the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities’ facilities.


Chief Sanitarians:


Prepare and recommend goals and objectives for each program under direction; develop policies, procedures and guidelines for their accomplishment; evaluate progress and revise methods as necessary.


Establish Statewide program priorities within and between programs.


Review proposed amendments to the Public Health Law and revisions to State and local codes, rules, and regulations, commenting and/or recommending on such proposals as an expert in the field; recommend revisions to laws, codes, rules and regulations and supervise development of such revisions; coordinate those proposals involving more than one program activity.


Supervise review and preparation of comments and recommendations on environmental and budget aspects of programs seeking federal funds; serve as liaison with Federal Government.


Supervise evaluation of performance of federally funded local programs including periodic project evaluation visits, review and critique of progress reports, and evaluation of comprehensive program data.


Provide advice and assistance in budgetary matters to ensure efficient management of grant funds including in-depth administrative review and analysis and making recommendations pertaining to cost efficiency.


Prepare contract budgets for submission to Fiscal Management, make appropriate application for budget modifications to State and federal offices and review project expenditures to minimize excessive, unobligated funds and prevent overexpenditures.


Supervise assessment of training needs and development of training programs.


Serve as liaison with State and federal agencies regarding compatibility of State laws and regulations with federal standards.


Develop publications and technical guidelines for use in interpreting and applying mandated program procedures.


Develop methodology for conducting evaluations of program performance in field offices of the Department and local agencies; supervise program evaluations, including inspection techniques, adequacy and completeness, and enforcement procedures.


Prepare recommendations to local health administrators for improvement of program efficiency and effectiveness; provide technical advice to local departments.


Review case reports of complex problems and make recommendations regarding legal action; provide expert testimony at hearings.


Develop and revise brochures and educational aids regarding programs; ensure dissemination of information to assist the public and increase public awareness.


Represent the Department at meetings with State and federal agencies having program interest and responsibility including development of memoranda of agreement, grant proposals, or contractual agreements with such agencies and coordinate program activities.


Participate in meetings/conferences of State and national organizations.


Supervise special projects involving assigned responsibilities on an as-needed basis.


Serve on special or ongoing advisory or coordinating committees.




Public Health Sanitarians interact with local health agencies and have contact with facility operators/owners/managers, staffs of facilities, and the general public regarding programs.


Senior Sanitarians have direct contact with and instruct facility operators/owners/managers, local health officials, and facility staff. Incumbents deal directly with physicians, facility administrators, medical personnel, architects, engineers, laboratory personnel, the general public, and professional and community organizations.




Principal Sanitarians have frequent, direct contact with and instruct facility operators/owners/managers, local health officials, and facility staff. Incumbents deal directly with physicians, facility administrators, medical personnel, other State governmental agencies, federal governmental representatives, the general public and professional and community organizations.


Chief Sanitarians have direct contact with executive staff, federal officials, State governmental agencies, State and national organizations, special committees, and the general public. Incumbents advise and provide consultation to local health administrators.


In the Office of Health Systems Management, Sanitarians at all levels usually work with other professionals conducting surveys of health care facilities; the group works as a team, with each member contributing particular expertise.




Public Health Sanitarians function more independently than trainees, but are nevertheless directly supervised by Senior Sanitarians.


Senior Sanitarians are directly supervised by Principal Sanitarians or higher level program staff. They are expected to function independently with minimal supervision. Principal Sanitarians provide guidelines, assignments, and technical assistance.  In Office of Public Health District Offices, Senior Sanitarians may function as supervisor of one or more specific program areas. Senior Sanitarians may supervise Public Health Sanitarians, Sanitarian Trainees, Public Health Inspectors, and Student Assistants.


Principal Sanitarians may be supervised by Chief Sanitarians, Regional Engineers, Sanitary Engineers, Area Office Directors or other Area Regional Office staff functioning as team leader depending on assignment and location of position. Principal Sanitarians are expected to function independently with minimal supervision. Principal Sanitarians directly supervise other Sanitarians, providing work assignments, guidelines, and technical expertise. Principal Sanitarians may also supervise other disciplines involved in the survey process.


Chief Sanitarians are supervised by Bureau Directors. Chief Sanitarians function independently and supervise Principal Sanitarians, Senior Sanitarians and other staff on an as-needed basis for special projects. Chief Sanitarians supervise, manage and direct staff involved in several Statewide environmental health programs.


All of the above may supervise stenographic/clerical staff assigned to program.






            Completion of 30 college credit hours in the natural sciences and/or relevant applied sciences.  At least 12 hours must have been in the biological and/or physical sciences.  Up to 12 hours in the applied sciences including biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences (geology and hydrology) may be credited towards required hours.  Relative applied sciences include science-based courses in environmental technology, sanitation technology, medical technology, public health, infection control and food science.  The natural sciences considered appropriate are biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences (geology and hydrology).  In addition you must have had one-year satisfactory experience in environmental health protection.




Completion of 30 college credit hours in the natural sciences and/or relevant applied sciences.  At least 12 hours must have been in the biological and/or physical sciences.  Up to 12 hours in the applied sciences may be credited towards the required 30 hours.  Relative applied sciences include science-based courses in environmental technology, sanitation technology, medical technology, public health, infection control and food science.  The natural sciences that are considered appropriate are biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences (geology and hydrology).  In addition you must have had two years’ satisfactory experience in environmental health protection.


            “Environmental Health Protection” is defined as conducting field inspections of various types of facilities for compliance with the New York State Public Health law, Sanitary Code, Medical Facilities Code and those sections of the New York State Social Service Law and regulations governing environmental standards in adult homes, enriched housing and residences for adults.


            A Bachelor’s Degree in one of the natural sciences may be substituted for one year of the required experience.




            One year of permanent service as a Senior Sanitarian.




            One year of permanent service as a Principal Sanitarian.


Revised:  1/02


NOTE:  Classification Standards illustrate the nature, extent and scope of duties and responsibilities of the classes they describe.  Standards cannot and do not include all of the work that might be appropriately performed by a class.  The minimum qualifications above are those which were required for appointment at the time the Classification Standard was written.  Please contact the Division of Staffing Services for current information on minimum qualification requirements for appointment or examination.