Improved standards for new migrant worker dormitories

Singapore, 20 September 2021 – The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Ministry of National Development (MND) and Ministry of Health (MOH) have developed improved standards for new migrant worker dormitories to strengthen resilience against future pandemics and enhance liveability. The new standards will apply to all new dormitories, including Purpose-Built Dormitories (PBDs), Factory-Converted Dormitories (FCDs), Construction Temporary Quarters (CTQs) and Temporary Occupation Licence Quarters (TOLQs).

The government has conducted a comprehensive review of existing dormitory standards in consultation with public health and infectious diseases experts, taking reference from local and international standards. A set of standards was piloted at the Quick Build Dormitories (QBDs). These standards were subsequently refined, based on the experiences with the QBDs and in managing the COVID-19 outbreak in the dormitories. The review also took into consideration the feedback from stakeholders including employers, dormitory operators, migrant workers, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and architects.

Improved standards for new dormitories

The improved standards will reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases in dormitories by:

a. Reducing intermixing amongst dormitory residents by modularising dormitory living and segmenting communal facilities (e.g., cooking, dining and laundry facilities). Examples include room occupancy capped to 12 residents, en-suite toilets, and segmentation of communal facilities for dedicated use by 120 residents per section;

b. Improving ventilation of dormitory rooms and toilets to reduce virus accumulation within enclosed areas. Examples include requiring at least one exhaust fan per toilet and adequate number of fans in dormitory rooms to ensure sufficient air circulation.

c. Facilitating early detection and quick isolation of unwell residents. Examples include increased isolation facility capacity and requirements to facilitate wastewater surveillance.

The standards will also enhance liveability for dormitory residents. Residents will have more spacious rooms (at least 4.2-square-metre living space per resident) and in-room Wi-Fi coverage to allow them to communicate with their families and friends.

The improved standards will complement existing safeguards such as enhanced safe living and safe working measures at dormitories and worksites, including the implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC) practices, and the multi-layered strategy to detect, isolate and contain outbreaks. A longer-term medical support plan is also being developed to ensure migrant workers have access to comprehensive and timely primary care.

The key changes in the improved standards are summarised below.

Standards Current New
Occupancy per room No maximum residents per room. In practice, 12 to 16 residents per room.
No requirement for spacing between beds, mostly double-decker beds
≤ 12 residents per room
≥ 1 meter spacing between beds, double-decker beds allowed
Occupancy per floor ≤ 240 residents ≤ 240 residents, capable of being divided into self-contained sections of 120 residents
Communal facilities (e.g., cooking, dining, laundry facilities) No segmentation required Designed to allow segmentation for dedicated use by ≤120 residents per section
Ventilation Subjected to BCA’s prevailing requirements for natural ventilation, e.g., windows or openings to be at least 5 per cent of the floor area of the room Additional requirements:

≥ 1 exhaust fan per toilet

Adequate number of fans, reasonably spaced out throughout room, to provide sufficient air circulation

If Air conditioning is provided in room, additional requirement, i.e., install a filter of at least MERV14 rating, to reduce transmission risks in enclosed areas

Toilets ≥ 1 set of common or en-suite toilet, bathroom, sink and urinal: 15 residents ≥ 1 set of en-suite toilet, bathroom, sink: 6 residents
Isolation facility ≥ 1 isolation bed per 1,000 bed spaces during peacetime

≥ Additional 19 isolation beds per 1,000 bed spaces to be stood up during pandemics

≥ 10 isolation beds per 1,000 bed spaces during peacetime

≥ Additional 15 isolation beds per 1,000 bed spaces to be stood up during pandemics

Living space excluding shared living facilities ≥ 3.5sqm per resident ≥ 4.2sqm per resident
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi in common areas for residents Wi-Fi in common areas and rooms for residents

Providing sustainable housing options for migrant workers

To ensure sufficient housing for migrant workers and support efforts to reduce the density of existing dormitories, the government will be launching two new PBD sites (at least 12,500 beds) at Kranji and Jalan Tukang, to be completed in the next three years. To ensure the timely construction of PBD beds in the current economic climate, the government will construct and own these dormitories, while the day-to-day operations will be managed by a dormitory operator.

– Construction+ Online

Source: MOM