Hong Kong government promotes safety at work for domestic helpers

An image from the Occupational Safety & Health Council's poster on safety at work.
An image from the Occupational Safety & Health Council’s poster on safety at work.

The Hong Kong government is sharing videos and booklets to educate employers and domestic helpers about work safety – particularly relating to window cleaning.

This follows the announcement of new rules that say helpers can only clean window exteriors above the ground floor when window grilles are fixed and an adult is there to supervise.

Since a clause to that effect will only be included in new, or renewed, contracts (and not existing ones), the government is running a campaign to educate employers and helpers about safety on the job.

Several domestic workers have plunged to their deaths this year while performing chores such as window cleaning, leading to protests and demands that window cleaning be banned.

The Labour Department said in a letter to agencies and other stakeholders this week that it was “highly concerned about work-related accidents of domestic helpers”. It said employers should take necessary precautions to ensure their helpers’ safety, while helpers should observe safety guidelines.

The department shared educational videos with tips on safe window cleaning and general safety at work. Next Monday, November 7, the department plans to publish a new leaflet on its website (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk), with safety tips in various languages.

Among the government’s tips relating to window cleaning are that grilles should be kept closed while windows are being cleaned, and that helpers should not stretch their bodies out of windows while cleaning them. Helpers should also not lean against windows or grilles, and should use proper tools with long handles and a hand string where necessary.

Here is an online version of one of the Occupational Safety & Health Council’s various safety booklets: