NEA to roll out new framework and guide to improve sanitation

·Senior Reporter
·4-min read

SINGAPORE — The National Environmental Agency (NEA) will roll out the new Environment Sanitation regime from the middle of this year, starting with higher-risk premises with high footfall and immuno-vulnerable occupants.

More than 2,000 premises are expected to implement the regime by the end of the 2021 financial year (March 2022), said Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Dr Amy Khor on Thursday (4 March) during the ministry's Committee of Supply debate in Parliament.

The regime will be rolled out progressively from July onwards, starting with higher-risk premises at preschools, schools, youth facilities, and eldercare facilities, followed by hawker centres and coffee shops.

"Over 30,000 premises have achieved the “SG Clean” Quality Mark. We passed the Environmental Public Health Amendment) Bill to introduce mandatory baseline environmental sanitation standards. But the battle is far from over," Dr Khor noted.

She pointed out that gastroenteritis incidents affected more than 1,200 persons in 2018 and 2019, while satisfaction levels of public cleanliness at premises like markets, hawker centres and coffeeshops remain low.

"Birds, which are attracted by food remnants, continue to be a nuisance, with about 90 feedback cases on this every month." she added.

As part of the regime, premises managers will be required to implement an Environmental Sanitation programme and be responsible for the cleanliness of their premises under the regime.

They will also be required to appoint Environmental Control Coordinators (ECCs) who should preferably hold supervisory roles. These coordinators will assist them in developing and implementing the Environmental Sanitation programme.

The regime's staggered roll-out will provide premises owners more time to prepare for the new cleaning workflow, and to send their appointed coordinators for mandatory EEC training. Training for ECCs will be made available from March, with over 2,000 expected to be trained, and will be conducted by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) accredited training providers.

The training will provide ECCs with skills in planning and implementing environmental measures including cleaning and disinfection, pest management, waste management, and other relevant environmental topics.

A cleaner passes the city skyline after a morning shower in Singapore April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su
(Reuters file photo)

The NEA will also release a technical guide developed by the Environmental Sanitation Technical Committee, which is chaired by the agency.

The guide will contain the national baseline guidelines for improving environmental sanitation in high-risk premises and is applicable to premises across all non-healthcare settings.

To be made available on the NEA's website from mid-2021, some of its guidelines include conducting minimum daily cleaning for toilets, lifts, bin centres, and high-touch surfaces as well as a minimum six-monthly thorough periodic cleaning, which includes cleaning of areas that are not easily accessible and not covered by routine cleaning.

A sample of what an Environmental Sanitation programme would look like is also included in the guide.

Refreshed cleaning services guide

The NEA will also roll out a refreshed outcome-based contracting (OBC) guide for cleaning services this month. To date, more than 110 organisations have come onboard the adoption of the OBC for cleaning contracts, said Dr Khor.

New features include an easier method for service buyers "to measure service outcomes and sample contract clauses to cater for contingencies such as COVID-19", she added.

An OBC guide for the pest management sector is targeted to be ready by end-year. Currently, many pest management contracts are task and frequency-based contracts.

The guide will ensure pest management outcomes for service buyers and at the same time encourages skill upgrading of pest management workers and deployment of technologies to raise productivity

To further facilitate the adoption of automation in the environmental services industry, the NEA will also extend the Productivity Solutions grant to September this year. Eligible companies can be supported with up to 80 per cent of the qualifying cost, capped at S$350,000, until the extended deadline.

As of 17 February, a total of 1,290 applications have been approved for 458 companies and about $28 million of the grant has been committed.

The Environmental Services Industry Digital Plan will also be refreshed to include the pest management sector, with more details to be made available in the future.

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