MOM bans maids from cleaning window exteriors unless supervised

With immediate effect, maids will not be allowed to clean the window exteriors of high-rise HDB flats or apartments unless supervised.

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Manpower said this new rule will apply to all homes, except for windows that are at the ground level or along common corridors.

[To ban or not to ban?]

There are two conditions, however, for an exception to the rule: 1) that the employer or adult representative of the employer is physically present to supervise the maid and 2) that window grilles have been installed and are locked at all times during the cleaning process.

To deter employers from failing to ensure proper safety guidelines are followed, the MOM aims to double the penalties for errant employers from the existing S$5,000 fine and/or six months’ jail to S$10,000 fine and/or 12 months’ jail.

MOM will be sending a circular to all employers of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) on the new safety requirements.

The MOM added that since the start of the year, nine maids have died from work-related falls. Only four were reported in 2011 and eight in 2010.

Investigations showed that five of the nine who died were related to unsafe window cleaning practices, while two arose from hanging laundry. The other two are pending investigation.