Efforts to flush out dirty public toilets

We thank the writers for their feedback and suggestions on the cleanliness of public toilets (Filthy toilets a public hygiene concern, by Mr Derek Wee, Oct 7; Implement grading system for public toilets, by Mr Anthony Ng Seet Boo, Oct 10; and Make NEA reporting easier with app, by Mr Kang Choon Tian, Oct 13).

The National Environment Agency (NEA) and Restroom Association (Singapore) agree that owners of premises need to put in place an effective cleaning regime to ensure the cleanliness of public toilets.

The owners should also ensure that toilet facilities, including soap dispensers and hand dryers, are in good working order, and that toilet paper and soap are provided to facilitate good toilet hygiene on the part of users, which include food handlers.

Poor toilet hygiene of food handlers could give rise to food contamination and food poisoning incidents.

The NEA will not hesitate to take enforcement against errant owners of premises.

As of June this year, the NEA took more than 90 enforcement actions against owners of premises for toilet-related offences.

There is currently a Happy Toilet Programme, launched in 2003, which is developed and implemented by the Restroom Association (Singapore), with support from the NEA.

The programme grades public toilets based on five main areas - design, cleanliness, effectiveness, maintenance and user satisfaction.

Those that meet the minimum criteria are given three stars and best-in-class toilets are awarded six stars.

A total of 52 food shops, including coffee shops, have attained at least a three-star Happy Toilet grade.

The NEA will continue to work with Restroom Association (Singapore) to promote the voluntary Happy Toilet Programme.

We are also working with stakeholders to improve the standards of other non-participating premises and, in time to come, we hope that many more will meet the minimum criteria to be certified as Happy Toilets.

In keeping public toilets clean, everyone needs to practise social graciousness and help keep such shared spaces clean, in consideration of the next user.

The NEA will continue to work with the various stakeholders and service providers to improve the cleanliness of public toilets.

Feedback is welcome and members of the public who encounter any public toilet in a poor state of cleanliness or maintenance can contact the NEA on 1800-CALL-NEA (1800-2255-632).

Feedback and accompanying photos can also be submitted via the myENV mobile app or our online feedback form at www.nea.gov.sg/feedback

Tony Teo

Director, Environmental Public Health Operations

National Environment Agency

Emerson Hee

Executive Director

Restroom Association (Singapore)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2017, with the headline 'Efforts to flush out dirty public toilets'. Print Edition | Subscribe