What checks are made on the transport before loading?

Before moving the product from refrigeration storage, the work instruction will normally require you to check the hygiene of the transport. This is to make sure it meets AS 4696:2007 Australian Standard for the hygienic production and transportation of meat and meat products for human consumption, which requires:

  • exposed meat to be transported without contamination from any surfaces
  • cartons and containers of product to be transported without deterioration and contamination through floor contact, splash and drip from other products
  • non-meat products carried as back-loads are physically separated from meat product, to avoid cross-contamination, e.g. from odour.

This check can be part of the work-up procedures when you are preparing the transport for loading by:

  • checking internal air for odours
  • visually inspecting the unit floor, walls and roof for damage or contamination
  • checking around the doors for damaged seals which may allow road-dirt to get in.

Report any transport problems in the way that your workplace procedures say, so that corrective action can be taken.

How are loads secured?

Products are loaded according to work instruction, including:

  • stringing or hanging chilled quarters and carcases from rails or hooks to clear the floor
  • keeping chilled and frozen cartons on pallets or off the floor on lining
  • stacking frozen cartons directly into containers for shipments.

You need to close the transport unit doors to protect security and integrity of the product during transit. Additional security procedures may include:

  • company locks
  • company and customer seals
  • door export seals
  • barriers to maintain the physical separation of export and non-export products.

Always check the load out dockets for information about the security arrangements needed, or ask your supervisor.

As in chillers and freezers on the plant, it is important to ensure the refrigerated air can flow throughout the container or truck.

What documentation is sent with each consignment?

Each order will require accurate descriptions of the product and transport arrangements on documents which:

  • travel with each consignment
  • travel separately from the consignment
  • stay with the company.

Details must be completed correctly at all stages, especially as the order is loaded. Incorrect or incomplete transport documentation may result in the product being in transit longer than necessary and may also prevent a load from being exported.

These documents may include one or more of the following:

  • Meat Transfer Certificate (MTC)
  • certificates verifying product preparation for specific markets
  • air freight or shipping documents
  • loading and delivery dockets.

These documents are finalised once the consignment can be made. The selected transport must meet temperature, space, time and hygiene requirements so quality is maintained during transit.

What are the WHS risks of working in refrigerated load out areas?

As chillers and cold stores operate at low temperatures, you need to be aware of the extra precautions required when working in these areas.

The obvious precautions include:

  • wearing additional thermal clothing to help maintain body temperature
  • wearing thermal foot and headwear and approved hand gloves where appropriate
  • keeping your clothing dry.

For continuous work in low temperature areas, especially in cold stores below
-18˚C, a mask on your lower face is recommended as part of the personal protective equipment (PPE).

Industry WHS procedures in cold storage areas commonly require rotated rest periods, e.g. 15 minutes for every hour worked.

Lengthy exposure to the cold can:

  • turn fingers white and stiff resulting in Reynaud’s disease, from continual  long-term exposure
  • cause numbness, white patches or chilblains on exposed skin surfaces
  • reduce movement or dexterity in manual handling.

Metal trolleys or steel racks, used to transport carton product from the production areas to overnight storage in the freezers, can be a trap for an inexperienced worker. Gloves are essential. Handling the trolleys or racks without gloves will cause the unprotected hand to stick to the cold, metal surface.

Poorly stacked palletised cartons can become unstable in freezers. You should report any unstable pallets immediately. Workers should also be careful when working near or around forklifts.

Any WHS problems experienced should be reported. Your workplace will have procedures for reporting WHS problems. This is necessary for your own benefit and for the benefit of those you work with.

Additional precautions to take when you are working in load out areas are:

  • correctly using manual handling techniques for lifting
  • checking rail points are correctly positioned before moving carcase product.

Report all WHS problems in the way detailed in the work instruction. This is for your own benefit, and for the benefit of others you work with.

LO freezer PPE Photo