Average of 12 people a year taken to task for not providing safe conditions for maids cleaning windows: MOM

The Ministry of Manpower said those implicated included employers and their household members.
The Ministry of Manpower said those implicated included employers and their household members.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The authorities here took about 60 people to task from 2016 to 2020 for failing to provide safe working conditions for their maids while they were cleaning windows.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said those implicated included employers and their household members.

It added that they were warned, issued with composition fines or prosecuted, depending on the severity of the case.

The ministry was responding to queries from The Straits Times on the 26-year-old Indonesian maid who died in hospital after being found at the bottom of a block of flats near Hougang MRT on March 29.

The police said that they had received a call for assistance at Block 464 Upper Serangoon Road at 4.53pm.

The woman was unconscious when she was taken by the Singapore Civil Defence Force to Sengkang General Hospital, where she later died.

She is believed to have been cleaning windows when she fell.

MOM said that it is investigating the incident.

"MOM expresses our deepest condolences to the deceased's family. The Centre for Domestic Employees is in touch with her family members and employer to provide assistance," said an MOM spokesman on Thursday (April 8).

The ministry added that it takes a serious view of employers who fail to provide safe working conditions for migrant domestic workers (MDWs).

"We educate both employers and MDWs and have stipulated safety conditions that have to be in place for cleaning windows in a high-rise setting," it said.

Domestic worker advocacy groups said that though measures have been put in place to stop maids from being put in such dangerous positions, both maids and employers could do more.

Case worker Jaya Anil Kumar from the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) said: "Since the ban on cleaning windows in a dangerous manner has been included in the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act regulations, there have been less reported instances in the news of such cases.

"However, such instances should not be happening at all. Domestic workers should be given a safe working environment, and they should not be undertaking tasks that put their safety and their lives at risk."

Mr Shamsul Kamar, executive director of the Centre for Domestic Employees, said: "We believe that domestic workers have been amply briefed on how to work safely during their compulsory settling-in programme.

"We encourage them to speak to their employers when they are unable to carry out a household cleaning duty if it is in an unsafe environment."

In 2006, a housewife was convicted of a negligent act which resulted in her Indonesian maid falling to her death from an eighth-floor apartment in 2004.

It was then the first case of its kind in Singapore.

Additional reporting by Ang Qing