Labour reminds employers on window cleaning safety

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A foreign domestic worker is seen cleaning a window more than 20 floors above ground in Kornhill Gardens, Quarry Bay in July 2018


With the Chinese New Year approaching, the Labour Department (LD) today (January 16) reminded employers and cleaning workers to stay alert and pay attention to safety when cleaning windows.

“It is customary for families to conduct a thorough clean-up of their homes to get ready for the Chinese New Year. Many will either perform the chores themselves or engage cleaning workers to help,” an LD spokesman said.

“Both employers and cleaning workers should take heed of safety precautions when undertaking household chores. In particular, special attention should be paid to window cleaning, which involves potential risks of falling from height,” he added.

In October 2016, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) banned Filipino domestic workers from cleaning the exteriors of windows of their employers’ flats here in HK.

“For safety purposes, cleaning the exterior of windows is not part of the domestic helper’s duties,” said a memo from labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre.

A month later, the Labour Department added a clause in the contract of foreign domestic workers saying that, when an employer requires the helper “to clean the outside of any window which is not located on the ground level or adjacent to a balcony (on which it must be reasonably safe for the helper to work) or common corridor,” two conditions should be met first.

The department said the window being cleaned must be “fitted with a grille which is locked or secured in a manner that prevents the grille from being opened.”

It added that “no part of the helper’s body extends beyond the window ledge except the arms.”

In its statement today, the LD reminded employers and cleaning workers to observe safety precautions when cleaning windows:

– Install secured window grilles as far as practicable and keep them closed while cleaning windows;

– Always stand on the floor when cleaning windows without grilles;

– Never stretch the body out of windows;

– Never lean against windows or window grilles; and

– Use proper tools with long handles where necessary.

In addition, cleaning agents should be used in the proper concentration and manner in accordance with the instructions on the labels of the packaging, the LD said.

Different types of cleaning agents should not be mixed for use. Plastic gloves should be worn to protect the skin from harm caused by chemical agents, it added.

For enquiries about occupational safety and health matters, please contact the LD’s Occupational Safety Officers at 2559 2297.