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Health and Safety guidelines in Gurdwaras

Many Gurdwaras do not follow common health and safety guidelines....

Last year the Maritime Sikh Society, Halifax, Canada  elected an all women executive committee at to manage its Gurdwara. This news received wide coverage in the press:

See: All women team to manage Sikh Gurudwara in Canada

Kanwal Sidhu (President), Krishna Grewal (Vice President), Sushma Paul (Treaurer)

The  executive successfully completed its term on Dec. 31, 2010. President Ms. Kanwal Sidhu  used a computer for the first time to present the President's and Treasurer’s reports to the General Body using an LCD projector.   All round development and improvement in the running the Gurdwara were pretty noticeable in the reports. There was also a message that the younger generation with their knowledge of modern technology is happily taking over,

A noteworthy feature of the report was the recommendations of the  Health and Safety Committee for Safety Practices in the Gurdwara. This came about due to a news item in the Calgary Herald that a Gurdwara was fined $14,030 for unsanitary conditions and  improper storage of food

Mrs. Sawinder Clair, a nurse by profession, prepared the following report with input from some of the other members. It was approved unanimously by the general body. As a result sevadars have started wearing gloves while serving Langar. We are sharing this with other sister organizations so that they can also start considering these safety measures if they are not already doing so.

See: MS Gill: SGPC should emulate Halifax example

Recommendations for Safety Practices in the Gurdwara

1. Food Preparation

a. Cover head when working in kitchen or around food.

b. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, and dry them, before preparing food in the kitchen, and around food.

c. Do not cough or sneeze around food.

d. Fruits and vegetables should be washed before and after peeling and cutting.

e. Wash pots before using for cooking.

f. Clean counter with soap and water before rolling the rotis.

g. Food allergies: make note of any nuts used in the food and make the congregation aware of them.

2. Serving Food

a. All sevadars (volunteers) must wash their hands with soap and water, and dry them, before serving langar (food).

b. All sevadars must keep their heads covered while serving food.

c. Sevadars should wear a glove on the serving hand when serving rotis and certain desserts.

d. Shoes should not be worn in the Langar Hall.

3. Kitchen Supplies

a. Keep bags or containers of flour, dal, sugar, salt, spices, etc., in a different room than the washer, dryer and laundry supplies.

b. All drygoods (Atta, dal, sugar, salt, spices etc.) should be kept in airtight containers.

c. Check refrigerator and freezer for cleanliness every week.

d. At the end of the day, make sure the dishwasher is dry and open, and sink is clean and dry.

e. Microwave should be cleaned regularly.

f. Sponges used for dish cleaning should be replaced often.

4. General Kitchen Safety

a. Use non-skid rubber or carpet mats in front of sinks and dishwasher, to avoid slipping accidents.

b. Place dirty dishes in a large plastic container on top of the trolley. Do not carry the container; wheel the trolley near the sink to transfer dishes into the sink.

c. Keep a clean mop handy to keep the kitchen floor dry.

5. General Safety

a. Employ two labeled baskets for clean and used scarves.

b. Separate slippers should be used for kitchen and bathroom. Slippers should be colour-coded for the appropriate area, and made of rubber, or vinyl, for simple washability.

c. Avoid overfilling the garbage bags. Tie the bags and place them in the shed after Langar on Sunday.

d. Place large coconut mat outside, in front of the main entrance.

e. Place nonskid large mat inside the main entrance.

f. Bathroom floors, toilets, and sinks should be cleaned with antibacterial solution.

6. Fire Safety

a. Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all floors.

b. Change batteries of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year.

c. Propane tank, gas line and stove should be serviced annually, and checked for any leaks.

d. Knobs of the stove should be replaced.

e. Furnace should be serviced annually.

f. Make sure exit lights are working properly:

i. Change bulbs if needed.

ii. Motion sensor lights should be installed in the front and back of the building.

g. Check oil tank often for any leaks. The sooner leaks are located, and fixed, the better.

h. Possible entrance holes for wildlife should be blocked on both the inside and outside of the building.

 

Jagpal S Tiwana
Director Communications
Maritime Sikh Society
Halifax, Canada

 

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