SINGAPORE - Mr Nashrudin R. Amzan's job is to get rid of pests but he says his role is more of a "pest doctor" than a serial killer.
"I don't think it is a good idea to go to a (pest-infested) location, do (a) chemical spray, and kill the insects. We are in the professional pest control line," said the senior foreman at pest control firm Aardwolf Pestkare.
He and his team prefer to tackle the challenge by pest-proofing a place and clearing the source, such as a flower pot filled with swimming mosquito larvae. The last resort would be to turn to pesticides and fogging, stressed Mr Nashrudin, 33, who has been with the company for almost 13 years.
On Thursday (Dec 16), he was among 27 employees in the environmental services (ES) industry, who received the annual ES Star Awards.
The awards - organised by the National Environment Agency (NEA) - honour workers in the cleaning services, waste management and pest management lines. The 27 award winners will also receive $100 gift vouchers.
Another 389 employees across the ES industry will get certificates of excellence and $50 gift vouchers.
Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, who was the guest of honour at the ceremony held at the Environment Building in Scotts Road, said 2021 was a tough year for employees in the ES sector due to manpower constraints arising from a number of workers who were down with Covid-19 and many others quarantined.
"This is in addition to employees having to grapple with fatigue and burnout against the backdrop of rising Covid-19 cases.
"Nonetheless, our environmental services heroes pressed on with their duties to uphold Singapore's public health defences by ensuring a clean and safe environment for everyone," he added.
Dr Tan noted that the Progressive Wage Model for the cleaning sector, and soon for waste management, will help to uplift the wages of workers, improve their skills and provide them with clearer progression pathways.
Increasing the ES industry's adoption of technology and attracting younger people to join the sector are key focus areas to address manpower constraints, noted NEA on Thursday.
One of the 27 ES Star Awards recipients, Ms Hong Peiyu, 27, joined the waste management service two years ago through a career conversion programme under Workforce Singapore.
She is currently an operations executive at integrated waste management firm TEE Environmental. In a bid to understand workflow, she joined the waste collection team when they made their rounds, and helped to cut down two collection routes, reduce fuel consumption and emissions from the trucks.
Ms Hong, who was previously a saleswoman at a food and beverage distribution company, said: "To be frank, before I joined (waste management), I thought this industry would be the last to come to my mind."
She also noted that the waste management industry has been traditionally male-dominated. "As the country is advocating (working) towards a zero waste nation, I told myself I should give it a try and contribute to the environmental industry," added Ms Hong.
The work calls for ingenuity too, as Mr Nashrudin can attest to in his battle with a crafty rat that left bacteria-ridden droppings and fed on raw ingredients in a restaurant in Holland Village.
The rodent was able to evade traps so he and his team had to install cameras and sensors in the area to track its movements before they finally managed to ambush the unwanted invader.