A 46-year-old Singaporean housewife was fined S$46,000 (US$33,751) on Tuesday for endangering the lives of two Indonesian maids. The domestic workers were made to use two-storey-high scaffolding to perform maintenance work on her home several times last year.
The accused Willow Phua Brest pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to provide safe working conditions for her two Indonesian maids Karsinah, 39, and Dati, 43, Lianhe Zaobao (Singapore) reported.
The court heard that on October 9 last year, Brest asked her neighbor, whose home was undertaking major renovations, to erect scaffolding so that the second-storey exterior windows of her Cluny Park condominium could be reached and cleaned by her maids.
On October 11 and 13, the maids were seen to use the scaffolding to clean windows. They wore safety belts, masks and gloves, though neither of them had received any training for working at heights.
Later Brest asked her neighbor’s contractors to construct further scaffolding. However, although the contractors delivered the components for additional scaffolding, they did not assemble it.
On Oct 20, it took about three hours for the accused and one maid, Karsinah, to erect the the 4.5-meter-tall scaffolding, which lacked required safety features such as proper guardrails.
The two domestic workers were made to use the scaffolding to prepare and paint a wall at the back of their employer’s house. The work took seven days.
The District Judge commented that, since it was very dangerous to force untrained maids to work at heights on scaffolding, a deterrent sentence was suitable in order to protect the rights and safety of the vulnerable. A fine was set at S$46,000 (US$33,751).