Source: Asia Pacific Region 2 – Singapore
These measures seek to ensure high public health standards, and enhance the accountability and professionalism of funerary service providers
Singapore, 19 October 2020 – The National Environment Agency (NEA), in consultation with the Association of Funeral Directors Singapore (AFD), have jointly developed and released a new set of Guidelines for Hearse Operators and Transportation of the Deceased. The latest guidelines follows the roll-out in June 2020 of the Guidelines for Handling Deceased in the Funeral Parlour. The new guidelines aim to provide useful information and share industry best practices for hearse operators and funerary personnel who carry out the conveyance of the deceased, so that they meet high public health standards, accord dignity to the deceased and serve the needs of the bereaved families well.
2 The guidelines mainly cover the scope of work in relation to the conveyance of the deceased from point to point during the funerary preparations and/or proceedings. They outline the roles and responsibilities of the hearse and transfer vehicle operators/drivers, in the collection and conveyance of the deceased, and the maintenance and disinfection of vehicles. Some best industry practices include ensuring that the vehicle used to transport the deceased must be enclosed to preserve the dignity of the deceased; use of a securing mechanism to ensure that the deceased or the coffin is securely fastened in the vehicle or hearse before moving off; and ensuring that the hearse and transfer vehicle are cleaned and maintained appropriately. These guidelines are available on both the NEA and AFD websites. Members of the public may refer to the NEA website link at www.nea.gov.sg/after-death-services/guidelines for more information on these guidelines. Earlier this year, the AFD and NEA also jointly issued the Guidelines for the Handling of Deceased in Funeral Parlours.
3 Ang Zisheng, President of AFD, said, “These upgraded new Guidelines for the Handling for Hearse Operators and Transportation of Deceased continue to reinforce the best practice standards for funeral conveyance in Singapore. It further strengthens what current operators already have in place in a more structured manner, ensuring the sharing of best practices amongst all providing funeral services to the community. AFD is continually looking at new guidelines to assist promising funeral directors in enhancing the services they provide.”
Registration of Contractors who Provide Services at NEA-managed After-death Facilities
4 From January 2021, contractors intending to provide or perform services at NEA-managed after-death facilities, such as exhumation, niche plaque related works, and erection of tombstone or monument service, must be registered with NEA. This is to enhance the transparency of the industry and ensure the accountability of contractors, especially if they are performing services within the NEA-managed after-death facilities. All next-of-kin who apply for permits to carry out work in NEA-managed facilities may only engage contractors who are registered with NEA.
5 Contractors may submit applications for registration, by completing the application forms and providing relevant documents for NEA’s consideration and approval. No fees will be incurred for registration, and contractors will need to renew their registration after the 3-year registration period has lapsed. Contractors were informed of these tightened requirements on 16 October 2020, to allow sufficient time for early registration before the requirement takes effect in January 2021. If a registered contractor or any of his employees is found to have engaged in unauthorised activities, NEA will take appropriate action, such as issuing written warnings or even withdrawing the registration, in accordance with the seriousness of the breaches.
Raising Standards for the Funeral Service Industry
6 Funeral parlour operators, funeral directors, funeral service contractors and employees, have a responsibility to maintain high standards of service and accountability, to ensure that the deceased who are placed in their care are handled with respect and dignity.
7 With our aging population and growing demand for after-death services and facilities, this will drive the demand for after-death services infrastructure, as well as industry manpower to support the provision of such services. As the lead planning agency for after-death facilities and services, NEA will continue to work closely with AFD and industry stakeholders, to uplift the professionalism and standards of the funeral services industry.
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