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All foreign domestic workers attend safety awareness course

  • Lianhe Zaobao (14 October 2010) : All foreign domestic workers attend safety awareness course
  • Lianhe Zaobao (11 October 2010) : What does fall from height mishaps tell us?

All foreign domestic workers attend safety awareness course
- Lianhe Zaobao, 14 October 2010

We thank Mr Chen Wenping for highlighting the need to ensure the safety of foreign domestic workers (FDWs).

Both FDWs and employers are educated on the importance of safety at the workplace. All first-time FDWs are required to attend a Safety Awareness Course that instructs them specifically on the safety precautions required for performing tasks such as cleaning of windows and hanging of laundry in an urban high-rise environment. MOM also conducts random interviews with selected first-time FDWs during their initial months of employment to determine if they have adjusted to their work environment. During this interview, MOM also takes the opportunity to reiterate the importance of working safely.

First-time employers have to attend a compulsory employers’ orientation programme, which covers good employment practices and employers’ obligations towards FDWs. These include the need to provide a safe working environment for FDWs, and ensure that they carry out their duties in a safe manner. The importance of workplace safety is further reiterated in regular newsletters to FDWs and their employers.

Employers and members of the household who place FDWs in situations that endanger their lives or personal safety may face prosecution and be barred from hiring a FDW in future.

Since 2006, MOM has taken 15 such employers to task for failing to ensure that their FDWs performed their duties in a safe manner. Twelve were prosecuted and fined between $2,500 and $10,000 upon conviction while the rest were issued composition fines of up to $2,000.

Anyone with information on FDWs working under unsafe conditions can call the FDW hotline (1800 339 5505) or e-mail

What does fall from height mishaps tell us?
- Lianhe Zaobao, 11 October 2010

I was sad to read about another case of a FDW suspected to have fallen to her death while cleaning windows in the media on 5 Oct. There were at least several cases of such mishaps in the past few years. Social workers have long suggested that employers attach importance to home safety and teach their FDWs the correct ways of cleaning windows. When necessary, employers should also be present to supervise their FDWs when cleaning windows.

However, some employers have the mentality that they can do whatever they want with their FDWs since they are under their employment. They ignore the fact that their FDWs are new to the environment and may have never stayed in a high-rise building. FDW employers have the responsibility to educate their FDWs on the safety precautions when staying in a high-rise building and ensure they do not run the risk of falling to their death during their course of work.

MOM, as the regulatory authority of FDWs, must implement strict regulations and ensure that the FDW employer’s house is a safe workplace. Such “workplace accidents” can definitely be avoided and controlled and usually occurred due to employers’ negligence or failure to take safety precautions.

A company can be fined or charged if a workplace accident occurred due to their negligence. Similarly, FDW employers have to be responsible if an FDW meets with an accident in the home. I thus suggest that MOM to take reference from the workplace safety and health regulations and take action against employers whose FDWs are killed or seriously injured while cleaning windows to prevent such accidents from happening.