Filipino woman, 30, falls to death in suspected window-cleaning accident

Victim believed to have lost balance while doing housework in her seventh-floor flat in Mong Kok

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 9:33am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 5:45pm

A 30-year-old Filipino woman fell to her death from a Mong Kok flat on Wednesday night. She is suspected to have lost her balance while cleaning windows.

Firefighters and police were called to the scene at 179 Tung Choi Street at about 10pm after the woman was found lying unconscious on the canopy on the second floor.

She was sent to Kwong Wah Hospital, where resuscitation efforts failed, and she was declared dead.

Her husband, who accompanied paramedics to the hospital, was distraught and emotional.

The victim was believed to have lived in a seventh-floor flat.

Initial investigations by police did not reveal any suspicious circumstances.

Records show that since 2015, at least 11 people have accidentally fallen from high-rise buildings while cleaning windows or carrying out renovation work, resulting in death or severe injury.

Hong Kong’s foreign domestic helpers to be protected by new rule on window cleaning in early 2017

At least four incidents involved foreign domestic helpers. In August last year, a 35-year-old Filipino helper fell to her death from a 49th-floor unit at Lohas Park in Tseung Kwan O. In January the same year, a 21-year-old helper from Indonesia, who only started working in Hong Kong two months prior, died whilst working on the balcony of a flat on Argyle Street in Kowloon City.

Calls by migrant workers’ groups to publish job safety guidelines by the Hong Kong government showed little impact, prompting authorities from their home countries to call for a ban last year on all window cleaning or work near windows in high-rise blocks.

After months of negotiations, the Labour Department reached a compromise in November by introducing a safety clause, which took effect this year, prohibiting the cleaning of windows not fitted with grilles.

Window-cleaning ban for Hong Kong’s domestic helpers will not keep them safe, campaigners say

The new rules also stipulated that no part of a helper’s body except his or her arms could extend beyond the window ledge.

Employment contracts signed on or before December 31, 2016, were not affected, which means most of the city’s 300,000 working maids remained unprotected.

The department had predicted it would take around two years for all to be included after contract expiry and renewal.

The Occupational Safety and Health Council has been organising training courses for domestic helpers, teaching them safety tips for performing household chores.