6 Jun 2012, 3.46PM
The recent spate of fatal accidents involving Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW), also colloquially known as maids, falling from heights has raised concerns about their safety when doing chores amongst REACH contributors
Since January 2012, there were nine fatalities as a result of maids falling from heights of which five are due to window cleaning, compared to four cases for the whole of 2011 and eight in 2010.
In his Ministry’s blog
, Manpower Minister of State (MOS) Tan Chuan-Jin said that MOM’s engagement of various stakeholders and members of the public showed that while there was many differing views, there was a strong consensus to “do more of the same thing more intensively” - educate, enforce and legislate.
Hence, with immediate effect from 4 Jun [Read the MOM Press Release
], employers of maids or an adult representative has to be around to supervise when their maids clean the exterior of windows at their homes. Window grills must also be installed and locked during the cleaning. This will apply to all homes, except for windows that are at the ground level or along common corridors.
This new regulation is an addition to the existing measures set in place to address maid safety. Members of the public can also play a part in enforcing work safety by snapping unsafe work practices and submitting them via the Snap@ MOM app (Read the Discussion Forum
for more details).
As part of an ongoing view, there are plans to double the penalty for employers prosecuted for failing to provide maids with a safe working environment, from the current $5,000 fine and/or six months’ jail to $10,000 fine and/or 12 months’ jail.
MOS Tan said in conclusion in his blog post, ‘My final appeal is for FDW employers to ensure the safety of your FDW, as you would ensure yours or any of your family members. Let’s work together to keep our home safe, for everyone in the household, FDWs included’.