Singapore

Tighter rules on transporting bodies during funeral proceedings issued

Operators of funeral parlours are now expected to adhere to more stringent measures for transporting bodies, following a mix-up in January that resulted in a wrong body being cremated.

In new guidelines released yesterday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Association of Funeral Directors Singapore said vehicles used to transfer the dead must be cleaned and maintained appropriately, and operators must ensure the coffin is securely fastened before the vehicle moves off.

The vehicle should also be enclosed to preserve the dignity of the dead person.

The NEA said the new guidelines are to ensure that hearse operators and funerary personnel "meet high public health standards, accord dignity to the deceased and serve the needs of the bereaved families well".

The new guidelines follow those that the NEA and the association issued in June.

Among other things, the guidelines require operators to have a proper system to identify a dead person.

REASONABLE LIMIT

Funeral parlours are also to ensure that the number of bodies in the embalming room is reasonable, with hygiene precautions taken to minimise the risk of disease transmission.

In January, the NEA barred Harmony Funeral Care from using government after-death facilities after it was found to have insufficient measures in place to ensure the proper handling of bodies.

The company was implicated in the mix-up that resulted in the first reported case of a wrong body being cremated in Singapore.

The NEA also said that from January, contractors intending to provide services at their cremation, burial and columbarium facilities must register with it first. These services include exhumation, erection of tombstone and niche plaque-related work.

More information on the new guidelines can be found on the NEA's website.

Death