Out on a limb, 6 storeys up

ONE false step could mean a fatal fall for this maid, perched precariously outside her employer's sixth-floor maisonette, cleaning windows.

Straits Times reader Wendi Do, 35, spotted the maid on Sunday at around 1 pm and spent five scary minutes watching her do the dangerous household chore.

"I was so afraid she would fall," said Mrs Do, a housewife. "I was hoping she would be all right."

Mrs Do was waiting in the car near her parents' flat in Jurong when she happened to look up at the block opposite, she said. "I saw the maid cleaning the windows so dangerously, she was even climbing out on to the ledge."

"She was at the upper deck of the maisonette, so it was really seven floors high."

Her parents were horrified when they saw the maid on the window sill.

We were saying, "It's so dangerous, how can her employer let her maid do something like that?"

As she had a camera with her, Mrs Do snapped this photograph and sent it to The Straits Times yesterday. "I want to remind people not to risk their lives just to clean windows," she said.

The maid's employer, a 34-year-old woman who declined to be identified, said last night: "I have told the maid several times not to do this."

"As for the Sunday incident, my maid denies she was on the window ledge but said she had stood on a stool inside the flat."

"I did not see her working on Sunday as we were out the whole day."

She said she had since locked the window grilles and kept the keys to make sure the incident did not occur again.

According to the police, nine maids fell last year while performing household chores, while eight fell in 1999.

Of the eight, six died while two were seriously injured. So far this year three maids have fallen.

Their employers we liable to be prosecuted if found to be criminally negligent, said the, Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

They were also not allowed to employ any maid until investigations were completed. But no employer has yet been charged although in one case last year, police issued a stern warning to an employer to pay special attention to his maid's safety.

MOM said that those suspected of setting their maids dangerous tasks be asked to show can why they should be allowed to employ a maid in the future.

Source: The Straits Times, June 26, 2001

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