Greater synergy between cleaning, waste and pest management sectors would enable workforce to become multi-skilled and cross-employable
Singapore, 24 April 2019 – Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, announced at the Singapore Urban Pest Management Forum today that the pest management sector will be integrated with the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM), to transform the pest management sector alongside the cleaning and waste management sectors. The pest management sector plays a critical role in helping to safeguard public health, and it needs to adapt to changing demands, and leverage technology and innovation to deliver quality services. As part of the ongoing journey to transform the pest management sector into one that is vibrant, sustainable and professional, enhancements to the licensing regime will also be explored. Together, these efforts will help to create stronger businesses and better jobs for the industry.
As demand for environmental services continues to rise, increasing the number of workers to meet the service demand is not sustainable given our manpower constraints. Recognising the need to transform the cleaning and waste management sectors, the ES ITM was launched in December 2017. With the inclusion of the pest management sector, NEA will work with partner agencies and the trade association for pest management to look into the strategies and initiatives to transform the pest management sector as well. Industry transformation will ensure that the sector remains competitive and attractive, and a skilled workforce will also be needed to meet the changing demands in a competitive business environment.
The strategies and initiatives for the pest management sector will similarly be focused on the four pillars of the ES ITM: (i) technology and innovation; (ii) jobs and skills; (iii) productivity, and (iv) internationalisation. By integrating the efforts of the three sectors under the ES ITM, the industry as a whole can look forward to a more employable workforce, i.e. multi-skilled professionals who are able to move across various sectors. NEA will conduct a manpower study in the second half of 2019 to better understand the manpower needs of the pest management sector. The findings and analysis would enable us to identify the areas of career mobility across the three sectors. For more information on the ES ITM, refer to Annex A.
Speaking at the forum, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Masagos Zulkifli said, “As our economy and consumption continues to grow, service demands and public expectations over performance standards will increase. Climate change may also lead to escalation of pest and vector issues. Pest management businesses and employees must therefore innovate continuously, adopt new technologies, and improve efficiency and productivity to meet new challenges. With the integration of the pest management sector in the ES ITM, businesses will be able to synergise cleaning, waste management and pest management services to reap greater efficiency and productivity. There is immense potential to transform our environmental services and pest management sector. This not only presents opportunities to develop our local enterprises and provide good jobs for Singaporeans, it will ensure Singapore remains clean and green for our future generations.”
Enhancements to licensing regime to be explored
To ensure that the pest management sector continues to be equipped to provide quality services to the public, NEA had conducted industry consultations last year to gather views and feedback on the current industry practices and licensing regime. The industry expressed several existing challenges such as manpower shortage, low productivity as well as varying service delivery standards, limited use of automation and technology, as well as poor contracting practices. To enable the pest management sector to truly transform from all fronts, NEA is also exploring to enhance the licensing regime, in tandem with the strategies and initiatives that will be launched progressively over the next few years under the ES ITM. NEA is reviewing the views and feedback gathered from the industry consultations, and more details will be announced at a later date. For more information on the current licensing regime, refer to Annex B.
Extending the Environmental Control Officer (ECO) scheme
The Environmental Control Officer (ECO) scheme has been in place since 1 April 2000 in the construction sector. ECOs are advisers and advocates of good environmental practices in construction sites, and they actively monitor and bring any environmental and public health issues to the attention of the developers or contractors. Besides pest management, ECOs also oversee other environmental services such as cleaning and waste management services within their premises. For more information on the current ECO scheme, refer to Annex C.
NEA is looking to extend the ECO scheme to shopping malls, given their high footfall and other factors such as the increasing number of foodshops, and will conduct a trial to assess the feasibility of the scheme for mall premises. The extension of the ECO scheme to shopping malls is the first step in creating upward mobility for environmental services personnel in the ES industry, as it encourages environmental services personnel to move within the ES sector, upgrade and diversify their skills, and ultimately to be an ECO should an individual be keen to pursue this vocation. This extension will contribute to the overall transformation efforts to ensure that the ES industry remains attractive for locals. In developing the scheme for malls, NEA will look at the following areas that the ECOs in malls would be expected to cover:
- Advocate for and tackle environmental issues holistically;
- Devise an effective environmental control programme to comply with the law/regulations; and
- Ensure optimal level of environmental services (i.e. cleaning, pest and waste management services) are procured.
The ECO scheme is currently opened for malls to participate on a voluntary basis. Malls are welcome to come on board the trial to collaborate with NEA to tackle environmental issues together. During the trial, NEA will work closely with participating malls to co-develop a fuller scheme that will be of greater relevance to their type of premises. The ECO scheme is expected to encourage mall managements to exercise greater ownership over, and raise the environmental and public health standards in, their premises for the benefits of the public. More details on the trial will be announced in the later part of the year.
Given their understanding of pest management, integrating the ECOs into the pest management eco-system closes the loop with service buyers, as ECOs are placed in a position to influence purchasing decision for pest management services with sound knowledge and professional advice. Business owners and operators would gain from business premises that are pest-free and well-managed when there are ECOs in their teams. Over time, we expect the ECO scheme to evolve and form an additional pathway for the workforce to become certified professionals who are well-versed in environmental management and dependable in different types of premises.
NEA will also continue to work closely with key association partners, such as the Singapore Pest Management Association (SPMA), Waste Management & Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) and the Environmental Management Association of Singapore (EMAS), to encourage industry-level collaboration and support the transformation of the environmental services industry. For quotes from the industry, refer to Annex D.
Members of the public can also play their part to care for the environment by practising the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle), binning their litter and cleaning up after themselves. With the collective effort of all stakeholders and the general public, we can transform the environmental services industry into a vibrant, sustainable and professional one, providing services and solutions to help achieve our Zero Waste vision and a clean and liveable Singapore.
Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map
The Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM) was launched in December 2017, and is one of the four ITMs under the Built Environment cluster, which also includes the construction, real estate and security sectors. There are over 1,700 companies delivering essential cleaning and waste management services daily. With more than 90 per cent of the companies being SMEs, transforming SMEs is necessary to improve productivity, promote growth and create better jobs for both sectors.
The cleaning, waste management and pest management sectors face similar challenges, such as manpower constraints, and varying service delivery standards. Since the launch of the ES ITM, the cleaning and waste management sectors have progressed on various fronts, such as by adopting greater use of technology and innovation, and improving productivity through better procurement practices.
With the inclusion of the pest management sector, pest control companies will also be able to transform in a similar fashion. The cross-sectoral nature of the ES industry enables the complementary nature of cleaning, waste management and pest management services, as well as integration of efforts between service providers and buyers. This will in turn facilitate a multi-skilled workforce that can enjoy better career mobility not only within the environmental services industry, but also other industries such as facility management. 4 The strategies and initiatives to drive the transformation of the entire industry will be centered on the four key pillars under the ES ITM: (i) technology and innovation; (ii) jobs and skills; (iii) productivity, and (iv) internationalisation. NEA will work closely with the partner agencies and trade associations to identify synergies between the three sectors for greater efficiency and productivity.
Current Regulations of the Pest Management Industry
The Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act (CVPA) has been in place since 1998, and it comprises the registration, licensing and certification of persons/ businesses engaged in vector control work. The following categories of licences/ certification are present today:
- An individual who wishes to carry out pest control works against vectors would need to be licensed/ certified or provisionally licensed/ certified as a vector control technician (VCT) or worker (VCW) respectively.
- Any person who in the course of trade or business undertakes/ engages in pest control works against vectors would be required to be registered as a Vector Control Operator (VCO).
- Pest control operators that carry out control and treatment works for pests which are non-vectors, such as termites, ants or birds are not required to be licensed under CVPA.
As of 31 March 2019, there are more than 340 VCOs with a workforce of more than 3,100 VCTs and VCWs. The workforce comprises 70 per cent VCTs and 30 per cent VCWs.
Vector control operators (VCOs) are reminded that they could face penalties if they operate without a valid certificate of registration or if they were found to employ unlicensed or provisionally unlicensed vector control technicians (VCTs) and uncertified or provisionally uncertified vector control workers (VCWs) to carry out vector control works.
Those found to contravene the provisions of the Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act will be liable to a fine not exceeding $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to both, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both. Registered VCOs, licensed VCTs and certified VCWs found to be in breach of licensing conditions may risk having their licence suspended or cancelled.
Environmental Control Officer (ECO) Scheme
The ECO scheme has been in place since 1 April 2000. Currently, ECOs are advisers and advocates of good environmental practices in construction sites who actively monitor for environmental and public health issues. Under the Environmental Public Health Act (EPHA), ECOs are required to be appointed for constructions sites of contract sums more than $10 million. As of 17 April 2019, there are more than 2,600 licensed ECOs. The table below shows a breakdown of the current requirements for ECOs for construction sites:
|Contract sum of construction works||Type of ECO required|
|$10 million and below||Not required|
|Above $10 million, below $50 million||Part-time ECO (At least 15 hours/ week)|
|Exceed $50 million||Full-time ECO (At least 40 hours/ week)|
ECOs undergo training to be well-equipped with environmental knowledge to manage a construction site. The roles of ECOs include the following:
- Facilitate compliance with the environmental laws;
- Advise occupier/ developers on environmental remediation measures;
- Inspect the site and engage stakeholders for environmental lapses; and
- Conduct outreach to educate workers in maintaining good and environmental health standards.
In a construction site, the ECO shall look out for conditions/ situations which causes environmental health problems or are likely to cause environmental health problems. The ECO should report these conditions/ situations to the occupier of the construction site together with recommendations on remedial measures to be taken to prevent recurrence. The main areas where the ECO should pay attention to are:
- Vector control;
- Proper waste management, including construction waste;
- Noise, air and water pollution;
- Proper maintenance of sanitary facilities such as toilets; and
- Any other environmental health matters.
Applicants who are interested to register as an ECO would need to complete the 1sup>ECO course and fulfil any one of the following criteria:
- A degree in any discipline;
- Technical Diploma with at least 2 years’ working experience in environmental engineering, pest control, estate management, environmental health or other work which is relevant to the work to be performed by an ECO; and
- Registered Safety Officer.
Under the Environmental Public Health (Registration of Environmental Control Officers) Regulation 5(1) and 5(2), it is an offence for the occupier of a construction site to employ an ECO without a valid Certificate of Registration. Likewise, it is an offence for an individual to work as an ECO without a valid Certificate of Registration. The individual and/or the occupier shall face a maximum court fine of $5,000 for first offence or $10,000 for second or subsequent offence.
1 For more information on the ECO course, visit this page: https://www.sp.edu.sg/pace/courses/course-type/short-modular/environmental-control-officer
Quotes from the Industry
“The Singapore Pest Management Association is supportive of the initiatives that NEA is driving. Given the challenges of the pest management sector, the integration of efforts with the cleaning and waste management sectors will be very useful in driving innovation and improving productivity for the pest management companies. The Singapore Urban Pest Management Forum today was organised to bring together different stakeholders in the industry, including businesses and entomologists, to encourage more companies to adopt new technology, upskill the workforce and improve productivity. We will continue to work closely with NEA and various stakeholders, and contribute to the transformative efforts of the pest management sector.”
- Mr Andrew Chan, SPMA President
“As an Environmental Control Officer, I prepare site Environmental Control Programmes before work commences, and also set up Project Environmental Objectives, Targets and Programmes. In my current role as a Corporate Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Manager, I help to develop and maintain the EHS management systems, and ensure compliance to EHS legal requirements, as well as advise the management on issues related to EHS. My role also requires me to provide feedback and information to my staff to further improve the EHS standards in the company. I am proud of my contributions as an ECO and hence, I contribute my skills and knowledge to others by lecturing at Singapore Polytechnic for the Environmental Control Officers Course – through lecturing, I am able to impart my knowledge gained, shared practical experiences and industry best practices for the construction site environmental control program with the course participants.”
- Susan Teo, Environmental Control Officer