Video monitoring | Meat processor finds fewer mistakes after expanding its watch on employees
BRANDON — It could be assumed that more experienced workers in a slaughter plant would make fewer errors and cause fewer problems than a shift of newer workers.
But that wasn’t the case when Cargill began monitoring what actually occurs in its slaughter plant in High River, Alta., a company official told the Manitoba Beef Producers annual meeting.
The company found that the more experienced line was committing far more mistakes and breaking more rules on procedure than the other shift, which had many newer workers.
“The second shift really took the messaging and the expectations that we set out for them to heart,” said Scott Entz, Cargill Meat Solutions’ vice-president and general manager.
However, the first shift seemed to have dropped to a lower level of care, one that its members might not have realized existed because it didn’t know there was a problem.
“We hadn’t made the expectations clear enough,” said Entz.
“We hadn’t given them feedback and created an environment where the right thing to do was the right thing.”
Cargill has installed a video monitoring system to ensure it is meeting its own standards at 15 points along the process, from unloading onward.
A non-Cargill company monitors the video feed, and it will immediately send a message to plant managers if it sees anything that breaks Cargill’s procedural rules.
Entz said he and other managers will receive a page alerting them of a recent problem so they can check it out while it is still current.
This is the kind of monitoring that Entz said meat buyers now demand because they have to deal with frequent criticisms and questions from consumers and activists and they want to be able to defend the products they sell.
“When our customers come to us, that’s one of their expectations, that you have clear programs, clear expectations and you’re following up on these,” said Entz.
Entz showed a chart of the deviation from standards of the two shifts, which improved radically at the point where the first shift was told about its noticeably worse performance.
“A little bit of change with the experienced folks, eh?” said Entz.
Their error rate fell greatly, to below the level of the other shift, after being told they were performing worse.
He said having good standards and monitoring whether they are being followed is an important part of ensuring that animal welfare and food safety problems are minimized and don’t become an issue. That has been Cargill’s hope with this program, he added.
“Hopefully we have eliminated and reduced the risk.”