Question and Answer
What is the environmental sanitation regime?
The environmental sanitation regime will introduce mandatory cleaning standards for higher-risk premises, which will require a regime for proactive routine cleaning and disinfection. It will require the specified premises to appoint a Premises Manager (PM) and a registered Environmental Control Coordinator (ECC) to develop and implement an environmental sanitation programme, which includes, but is not limited to, baseline standards such as minimum cleaning frequencies for daily and thorough periodic cleaning and disinfection, a pest management plan, a cleaning and disinfection methodology/protocol to handle bodily discharge incidents, to achieve stipulated cleanliness outcomes after cleaning operations, and to ensure that workers are sufficiently trained and provided with the necessary cleaning equipment, detergents and disinfectants.
Why is it important to implement the environmental sanitation regime?
The spate of gastroenteritis outbreaks in 2018 to 2019 and the recent COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of maintaining high standards of hygiene and sanitation to safeguard our environmental public health.
The environmental sanitation regime will be made mandatory for various types of premises, starting with higher-risk premises with vulnerable occupants and high footfall such as eldercare, youth and social service facilities, preschools, schools, food centres and markets (FCMs) and coffeeshops. It supports the SG Clean movement by clarifying lines of accountability for maintaining clean premises, and setting clear standards and outcomes expected of premises owners. It builds on existing hygiene and sanitation measures already in place in the various sectors and premises, and goes further by moving towards a co-regulation approach where stakeholders take accountability and ownership of the environmental sanitation standards within their respective premises.
How did the authorities decide on the types of higher-risk premises for this new regime? Will all premises eventually be covered under the environmental sanitation regime?
In consultation with various sectoral leads, MSE/NEA will focus on higher-risk premises with high footfall and vulnerable occupants such as eldercare, youth and social service facilities, preschools, schools, food centres and markets and coffeeshops. We will continue to review the need to include other sectors or premises and conduct the necessary consultations with key stakeholders before designating more premises under the environmental sanitation regime.
| 4||Are private properties covered under the environmental sanitation regime?|
No, but if the property is used for businesses/activities that are classified as specified premises that cater to vulnerable users/ occupants (e.g. childcare centre in a landed property) or with high footfall, then it will be covered under the ES regime. Specified premises are designated under the Environmental Public Health Act Section 62A(2). Refer to the Environmental Public Health (Designation of Specified Premises) Order 2021 for the phased implementation timeline.
When will the environmental sanitation regime be implemented?
It will be implemented progressively from 30 July 2021 to higher-risk premises with vulnerable occupants. To provide sufficient time for specified premises to put in place the necessary measures for their respective environmental sanitation programmes, NEA will adopt an advisory approach for the first six months of implementation. Enforcement will take place after the six-month advisory period.
How does the SG Clean quality mark differ from this new environmental sanitation regime?
The SG Clean quality mark is a voluntary scheme to call to action for premises owners/occupiers to take ownership to maintain high standards of environmental hygiene. SG Clean will pave the way to the new environmental sanitation regime, which mandates Premises Managers of specified premises to implement upstream cleaning standards.
| 7||How much more in terms of cleaning costs can premises expect with the implementation of this new environmental sanitation regime?|
NEA will work closely with sectoral leads to ensure that the new standards are calibrated to balance between cost considerations and expected outcomes. Improving cleanliness and hygiene standards upstream can minimise downstream business costs resulting from environmental lapses, such as closure of premises or impact from reputational damage. It may also potentially benefit premises through increased business due to greater consumer confidence, as consumers become increasingly aware of the importance of cleanliness arising from outbreaks such as COVID-19.
| 8||How frequent must specified premises update their environmental sanitation programme (ESP)?|
There is no fixed frequency in updating the ESP. Upon the first submission to NEA, there is no need to resubmit if there are no changes in (i) the PM/ECC, (ii) cleaning or pest control contractors or (iii) areas for cleaning including the cleaning and disinfection frequencies. However, the ECC of a premises should review and assess if the cleaning frequencies are sufficient to meet the outcome-based indicators. Specified premises may be required to resubmit the ESP if the Director General deems it necessary.
| 9||What is the duration for records (e.g. cleaning and disinfection, pest management records etc) to be kept?|
All records of cleaning, disinfection and pest management works must be kept till the end of the next calendar year (e.g. records from 1 Jan 2021 to 31 Dec 2021 must be kept till 31 Dec 2022 and may be discarded on 1 Jan 2023).
| 10||What is the scope of the 6-monthly comprehensive pest management survey? How comprehensive is comprehensive?|
PM will have to hire a licensed Vector Control Operator (VCO) to carry out the 6-monthly comprehensive pest management survey of the premises to identify any potential pest issues, flag up potential pest harbourage areas and entry points within the specified premises (including the compound), flag out the root causes of pest infestation such as identifying structural defects to be repaired promptly to remove pest entry and harbourage points. This also includes identifying any gaps in refuse management and housekeeping, mitigating measures to avoid pest infestation/re-infestation and alternative/better treatment methods. Key areas include (but not limited to) the common areas, bin centres entry/exit points, waste conveyance systems, dry riser, external perimeter and landscaping area and the loading and unloading bays, as well as false ceilings and false walls (if applicable). For specified premises that already have regular pest management services carried out in their premises, they would need the VCO to conduct a more thorough check and put up a detailed report of the premises every 6 months.
A service report that only states no major pest issues observed and/or treatment carried out at a particular area within the specified premises will not suffice. The report should include information such as whether refuse management and housekeeping is in order or whether it should be improved, in addition to the pest control works (if any). The VCO should also flag out any damaged structure that requires repair to prevent pests from entering or harbouring etc. Please refer to the Code of Practice for ECCs for the comprehensive pest management survey template.
| 11||We are going to renew our contract for cleaning but the ESP is not ready. When ESP is being implemented, what will happen to our existing contract?|
Outcome Based Contracting (OBC) is still recommended for specified premises as one of the ways for them to meet the ES regime requirements. However, if the current minimum cleaning frequency does not meet the sector-specific ES standards, there is still a need for PM to scope in the additional requirements, where necessary.
| 12||Under manpower declaration, what is considered cleaner is properly trained (both outsourced or in-house)? |
For outsourced cleaners, as part of the Progressive Wage Model, they have to meet WSQ training requirements. As such, for outsourced cleaners, they would have received the necessary training already. However, for in-house cleaners, if the PM is unable to send them for WSQ training on cleaning, they must minimally be briefed by the ECCs on proper cleaning and disinfection of surfaces. Specified premises should keep records on when in-house cleaners were briefed. During NEA’s audit checks, we will observe cleaners and conduct random checks with cleaners to ensure that they are familiar with cleaning and disinfection works and/or protocol in handling incidents involving bodily discharges.
| 13||The Code of Practice for ECCs indicates that good indoor air quality practices are mandatory for youth facilities only. Why is that so? How about the other premises?|
Indoor air quality affects the comfort and well-being of those who occupy indoor spaces. The occupants of youth facilities, including young children, belong to the vulnerable group and hence, it is important for premises managers and Environmental Control Coordinators (ECCs) to put in place measures to ensure good indoor air quality in these specified premises.
The Premises Managers and ECCs can take reference from the Code of Practice for Indoor Quality for Air-Conditioned Premises (SS 554: 2016+A1:2021), which specifies good practices in managing indoor air quality as well as standards and limits of indoor air quality parameters.
| 14||The Code of Practice for ECCs indicates that periodic indoor air quality audits should be conducted at least once every three years. Who will conduct these periodic indoor air quality audits?|
Premises Managers will be required to get accredited labs to conduct the periodic IAQ audits (at least once every 3 years) and the audit should include measurements of the recommended IAQ parameters stipulated in the Code of Practice for Indoor Air Quality for Air-conditioned Premises (SS 554: 2016+A1:2021). IAQ audits after major renovations should include measurements of parameters for Formaldehyde and Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs). In cases where the parameters exceed the acceptable limits stated in SS554:2016+A1:2021, ECCs and PMs should follow up to identify the cause(s) and rectify the situation accordingly.
| 15||Are the mandatory indoor air quality (IAQ) practices included in the Code of Practice because of COVID-19?|
NEA, together with the relevant authorities, had begun work on the environmental sanitation regime as early as 2018, following a series of gastroenteritis outbreaks which affected preschools. In 2019, NEA convened an Environmental Sanitation Technical Committee to develop national baseline standards on environmental sanitation for designated high-risk non-healthcare premises. Since 2020, we have been working with the sectoral lead agencies to include good indoor air quality practices as part of the sector specific requirements for youth facilities while the other premises will be encouraged to adopt as best practices.
What are the penalties for non-compliance with the environmental sanitation regime?
For premises which do not comply with the new regulations of appointing a registered ECC and discharging its duties under the environmental sanitation regime, the Premises Manager may face a maximum fine not exceeding $5,000 for a first conviction, and a maximum fine not exceeding $10,000 for a second or subsequent conviction.
ECCs who fail to register themselves with NEA before taking on the role of an ECC may face a fine not exceeding $5,000 for a first conviction, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a maximum fine not exceeding $10,000. For failure to discharge their duties under the environmental sanitation regime, ECCs may have their registration suspended or cancelled, depending on the severity of the offence.