New course teaches them easy to remember safe window-cleaning tips
Lock, check, open. First, lock the window grilles. Check to make sure they are locked before cleaning the out-facing windows. Then, open the grilles to clean the inside panels.
This is what more than 15,000 maids have been taught to do since May to be safe when cleaning the windows of high-rise homes.
The cleaning tip is part of the new Settling-In-Programme (SIP), a course that replaces an entry test that was scrapped after non-governmental organisations, maid agencies and maids complained that it was too difficult for non-English speakers.
The compulsory, one-day course teaches first-time maids how to work safely and adjust to life in Singapore.
Since its May launch, about 15,660 maids have taken the course, provided by Grace Management & Consultancy Services (GMCS), in partnership with the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Skills Training, and Econ Careskill Training Centre.
On Tuesday, about 20 Filipino maids attended the course held at GMCS' premises in Mountbatten Road. It was the first time the media was allowed in to report on the programme.
About half of the nine-hour course was spent on safety issues. The rest of the time was spent covering topics such as an introduction to life in Singapore and relationship and stress management. Using lectures, videos and practical lessons, trainer Lizandro Afable taught the class with a light touch - often, he peppered his lessons with jokes that made the maids laugh.
But he got serious when it came to work safety. Mr Afable summarised important safety tips into short taglines, which he said would be easier for the maids to recall. For example, when cleaning windows, always remember: Lock, check, open, he told them. Another one: "Remember your safety is more important than impressing your employers."
Nine foreign maids have died this year after falling from high- rise buildings while at work. In response, the Government said in June that when maids clean windows at home, they must be supervised by an adult.
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