SINGAPORE: Hearse operators will have to follow new guidelines for the transfer of the deceased, which are aimed at improving funeral service standards in Singapore, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Monday (Oct 19).
The regulations, which are developed in partnership with the Association of Funeral Directors Singapore (AFD), mainly cover the "best practices" for transfer of the deceased from point to point during funeral preparations and proceedings.
The guidelines also detailed conditions for the maintenance and disinfection for all hearse and transfer vehicles.
“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,” NEA said.
For example, drivers or funeral service providers must ensure that caskets are securely fastened before moving off to prevent movement of the body or casket, that music is played at an appropriate level to avoid disturbing the public and that vehicles must be properly cleaned with an "appropriate disinfectant".
Stacking and placing of caskets on the ground with the body inside are also prohibited, and care must be taken to ensure that the deceased cannot be viewed by the public when in the hearse.
The full set of guidelines is available on the NEA website.
INCREASING DEMAND FOR AFTER-DEATH SERVICES
The new guidelines will “reinforce the best practice standards for funeral conveyance in Singapore”, said AFD president Ang Zisheng.
“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,” Mr Ang added.
The new guidelines follow on the implementation of rules for licensed funeral parlours with embalming facilities in June.
“With our ageing 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,” NEA said.
FREE REGISTRATION FOR CONTRACTORS
The agency also announced on Monday that all contractors providing services at NEA-managed after-death facilities - exhumations, niche plaque works and the erection of tombstones or monuments - must be registered with NEA by Jan 2021.
Registration is free and valid for three years.
"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," said the agency.
"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."