Death of helper hit by cabinet should lead to review of safety, living arrangements of domestic workers

Statement 04 Oct 2014
The Mission for Migrant Workers expresses our sadness on the death of the 45-year old Filipino domestic worker in Tseung Kwan O after a wall cabinet fell on her head while she was sleeping on a pull-out bed beside her ward.
Our sympathy goes to her family and we hope that assistance will be immediately given to them including repatriation of her remains after a thorough investigation.
This incident shows that occupational safety of migrant domestic workers should be also ensured. In the past years, there have already been many cases of migrants falling off the windows or meeting accidents inside the household. Currently, no standard that ensures a safe working and living environment for migrant domestic workers exists.
We take this opportunity to once again call the attention of the Hong Kong government to review the mandatory live-in policy that places many migrant domestic workers at risk because it forces families and their helper to live in small and inadequate spaces. While the policy rules for live-in employment, the government does not define how the sleeping arrangements of migrant domestic workers should be with full consideration to their safety, privacy and wellbeing.
The various living arrangements that are made for migrant domestic arrangements are accidents waiting to happen. We know that there are many who are forced to sleep in the kitchen, in cupboards, in the laundry area, in makeshift beds inside toilets or any such spaces that are unsafe, unhygienic and unsuitable.
While authorities may yet again say that this is an isolated case, the fact that such can happen under a condition forced upon them by the mandatory live-in arrangement is already a cause for its review. Surely, there are other relatively minor incidents that those who live in cramped spaces and inappropriate arrangements experience but are just unreported.
Finally, as a service NGO, we also offer our services to the family of the victim to ensure that compensations due to their loved ones are settled.
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