Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Standard Operating Procedures are part of the Quality Assurance system. They are instructions about:

  • cleaning and sanitation
  • personal hygiene
  • waste disposal
  • water supply
  • pest and vermin control
  • chemicals including additives.

Abattoirs can also have SOPs to cover:

  • maintenance including preventative maintenance
  • livestock including animal care
  • slaughter
  • boning refrigeration
  • product traceability and recall
  • management review
  • internal audit
  • training
  • calibration

Standard Operating Procedures are written down and are usually kept in a manual in each work area. Copies are also kept in the Quality Assurance department.  You must know the SOPs for your work area. Your training will cover what is in the SOP and why it is important. If you need to check, you can ask a supervisor or look in the manual.

Work instructions and task descriptions

Work instructions or task descriptions are the instructions for each job or task in the plant.

Work instructions:

  • describe the tasks to be performed
  • Identify the order, if necessary, in which operations are to be performed
  • detail what should be done if errors occur
  • highlight the most important part of the task, if any
  • define the standard the job has to be done to
  • be written in simple languge

When you follow the work instructions you are making sure that the products are quality products.Work instructions are written down and kept in the manual in each work area. You can check your work against the work instructions. Your supervisor will explain the work instructions to you, to make sure you understand.

Report as part of SOPs or work instruction

SOPs and work instruction often ask you to report to your supervisor, especially if things go wrong. Most of the time you will only need to tell the supervisor what has happened.

Spoken reports

When you tell the supervisor you make a spoken report. You must:

  • speak clearly
  • explain clearly what is wrong or what has been done
  • use the correct name of the department, section or work area
  • give the correct name of the equipment involved
  • use the correct words for work processes
  • make sure the supervisor can hear you
  • make sure the supervisor can understand what you’ve said

Written reports, checklists and proformas

When you make a written report or fill in a checklist or proforma it will usually be on a form that is always used for this type of report.

Some of these reports and checklists are:

  • accident reports
  • housekeeping checklists
  • pre-operational checks.

What are the best ways to exchange information?

Clear and accurate information is very important in an abattoir or boning room. If information is wrong, or not given at the right time, there are the dangers of contamination, disease and injury.

People communicate information through speaking, writing, body language and visual signs. To give clear, logical and accurate information you need to ask yourself:

  • What’s the message?
  • Who is it for?

Written information

Everyone has struggled with badly-written instructions and diagrams. Just think about the instructions you get when you buy a new video recorder.

Look at these accident reports. One is a lot clearer than the other.

The second report:

  • is clear
  • is accurate
  • has full information.

It may help stop this type of incident happening again.

There may be other kinds of forms you need to use in your workplace. Always make sure you write information that is clear and easy to read.