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Punggol maid's fatal fall a misadventure

This article is more than 12 months old

Ten days into her new job, a 25-year-old Indonesian maid was cleaning windows at a third-storey Housing Board flat service balcony when she fell and died 12 hours later.

State Coroner Marvin Bay found Ms Ella Wahyu Setyaningrum's death on Dec 4 last year to be an "unfortunate misadventure".

He said generally, it would be helpful for employers to emphasise to their domestic workers the potential dangers in cleaning windows, hanging laundry or accessing structures that protrude from high-rise apartments.

Domestic workers, particularly those from rural backgrounds, he said, may be naive to the hazards inherent in undertaking such work without proper tools and methods, or supervision.

"Some may put themselves at even greater risk by improvising with stools, chairs and ladders to access hard-to-reach places," he said.

No one saw Ms Ella fall from HDB estate Punggol Parcvista in Sumang Link.

Circumstantial evidence points to her having fallen from a height while cleaning the kitchen window, apparently using a grey stool for access, he said.

"This is borne out by the open windows and grilles, the cleaning fluid found nearby and especially the pink cleaning cloth found at the sloping edge below the window."

Ms Ella had arrived at the Punggol flat on Nov 24 to take care of her employer, who had undergone bypass surgery.

On Dec 3, the employer's daughter, 36, and Ms Ella had been cleaning the service balcony.

Later, when the daughter saw Ms Ella standing on a stool to retrieve some clothing from the indoor drying rack, she reportedly admonished her and instructed her on the proper way to keep clothing on the drying rack.


She asserted that she had not asked Ms Ella to clean the windows when she went to sleep. She woke up at about 1.20pm after hearing a woman's voice shouting for her.

She ran to the kitchen and called out for Ms Ella, who was found at the foot of the block with her right hand encased in a plastic bag.

Ms Ella died from multiple injuries at about 2am the next day.