Following the death of 9 domestic helpers since last January, from high rise buildings, the Ministry of Manpower has sent a notice to all employers informing them of the new rules for all homes higher than 2nd floor:
1. the helper is not allowed anymore to clean the exterior side of windows when alone;
2. if the employer wants her to clean the exterior of the windows, 2 conditions MUST be met simultaneously:
………………….i. then the employer MUST be physically present while she is doing the cleaning;
………………….ii. the windows MUST have grilles that are locked AT ALL TIMES during the cleaning;
The notice explains the penalties for those employers who fail to comply with these new rules: a fine of 5000 SGD and / or 6 months’ jail.
The exact circumstances when the helpers fell to their death are not known for all cases: excessive leaning out of the window while cleaning or while hanging poles heavily loaded with laundry? Yes for some instances but the possibility of suicide cannot be excluded.
Considering the large number of high rise buildings in Singapore, this new rule that comes with a leaflet for domestic helpers explaining the dos and don’ts when working next to a window is definitely a good move towards re-inforcing the safety at work.
However, one question remains to me: how can you clean the exterior of windows if the window grilles are locked? If anyone has the answer, I’d be happy to read it!