Ensure elderly cleaners are not exposed to danger

On July 26, I spotted two elderly cleaners - who looked like they were in their 60s or 70s - clearing dead leaves from the top of a wall fronting a secondary school in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5.

One of them was on a ladder and using a broom to clear the leaves, while the other was holding the ladder steady against the wall.

I was worried for them, and angry that they were put to handle such a risky task that could have resulted in injury or even death if they had lost their balance and fallen.

I reported the incident to the Ministry of Education (MOE) that day, and received a call from the school's vice-principal the next day.

The vice-principal said that the cleaners were hired by a contractor and were given appropriate training and certified fit for the task. He added that senior cleaners were over 70 years old.

While I appreciated the quick response, the issue was not whether they were certified fit, but whether they should have been exposed to such risk in the first place.

I hope the MOE, Manpower Ministry or Workplace Safety and Health Council will review the matter and put in place protection measures that will prevent injury or death among elderly cleaners.

This is an urgent issue, given the many seniors working in cleaning jobs in various industries here.

Foo Kwang Sai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2017, with the headline 'Ensure elderly cleaners are not exposed to danger'. Print Edition | Subscribe