Humane Interactive Knowledge Exchange (HIKE) Scenario 02-08: Cattle Unloading: Slips and Falls
You are observing unloading activities at chute #1. The cattle appear calm, and you do not detect animals vocalizing. The animal handlers do not appear to be using hot shots excessively and appear to be very patient as they move animals from the truck into the unloading chute. As you watch the animals being unloaded, you notice that some animals are slipping and sliding down the floor of the chute; 1 animal loses its balance and falls down. You examine the floor of the chute and observe that it is covered with a slurry composed of dirt and manure.
You inform establishment management of the incident, in accordance with 9 CFR 313.50, which states that an inspector will inform the establishment operator when they observe an incident of inhumane handling, that is not egregious, and request that the operator take the necessary steps to prevent a recurrence. You also tell them that they are noncompliant with 9 CFR 313.1 (b) and you will document this incident on an NR. (You recall from your training, and according to FSIS Directive 5000.1, that the appropriate way to inform an establishment of a regulatory noncompliance is by documenting the incident on an NR.)
The establishment yard supervisor informs you that the establishment will stop unloading animals at chute #1 and will evaluate and correct the situation before unloading any more animals. After your discussion with the supervisor, you move to chute # 2 and continue to observe unloading activities. While observing animals coming down the chute, several animals slip and 2 animals lose their balance and fall down. Again you find that the floor of this chute is covered with a slurry composed of manure and dirt. Because cattle continue to slip and fall, you determine that the establishment is noncompliant with 9 CFR 313.1 (b).
Based on the above findings and the fact that the establishment failed to take the necessary steps to prevent recurrences, you inform yard management to stop unloading cattle, and then, as instructed in FSIS Directive 6900.2, you take a regulatory control action (RCA) as authorized by 9 CFR 500.2. You place US Rejected tags across the openings of chute #1 and #2 as indicated in 9 CFR 313.50 (a).
The plant orally proffers immediate and further planned actions to control the problem.
For immediate actions, the plant institutes corrective measures of washing down the unloading chutes every 3rd truck. The establishment also indicates that it will use sawdust or sand if the cleaning of the floor is not adequate. For further planned actions the plant says that it will install metal mesh on the floors of both chutes over the weekend. You decide that these immediate and further planned actions are acceptable and remove the US Reject tags from the unloading chutes after communicating with the DVMS who concurs with your assessment of the plants response.
You have determined that there is noncompliance with regard to which states:
Floors of livestock pens, ramps, and driveways shall be constructed and maintained so as to provide good footing for livestock. Slip resistant or waffled floor surfaces, cleated ramps are examples of acceptable construction and maintenance.
You document the events in an NR. You document the humane handling noncompliance with 9 CFR 313.1 (b) using the 04C02 procedure code and mark protocol for the trend indicator. In block 10 of the NR, you reference HATS Category II Truck Unloading and HATS Category VII Observation for Slips and falls (as per FSIS Notice 16-08). The plant gives no written response, so you carefully and completely document the plants oral responses for corrective actions and further planned actions. You fax a copy of the NR to the District Office to provide information to the DVMS and Deputy District Manager.
At a later time, during the same day, you observe that the chutes floors are being washed at the specified frequency. In addition, you determine that animals are not vocalizing, slipping, or falling during unloading. You continue to monitor unloading operations to verify that the plant maintains and fully implements their verbal corrective actions.
The following week, you observe that the establishment has installed the metal mesh on the floors of the chutes by the specified completion date.
Note: Time spent observing this noncompliance should be entered into HATS under Category II and Category VII.
9 CFR 313.1(b): Livestock pens, driveways, and ramps. Floors of livestock pens, ramps, and driveways shall be constructed and maintained so as to provide good footing for livestock. Slip resistant or waffled floor surfaces, cleated ramps and the use of sand, as appropriate, during winter months are examples of acceptable construction and maintenance.
313.50 Tagging of equipment, alleyways, pens, or compartments to prevent inhumane slaughter or handling in connection with slaughter.
When an inspector observes an incident of inhumane slaughter or handling in connection with slaughter, he/she shall inform the establishment operator of the incident and request that the operator take the necessary steps to prevent a recurrence. If the establishment operator fails to take such action or fails to promptly provide the inspector with satisfactory assurances that such action will be taken, the inspector shall follow the procedures specified in paragraph (a), (b), or (c) of this section, as appropriate.
(a) If the cause of inhumane treatment is the result of facility deficiencies, disrepair, or equipment breakdown, the inspector shall attach a U.S. Rejected tag thereto. No equipment, alleyway, pen or compartment so tagged shall be used until made acceptable to the inspector. The tag shall not be removed by anyone other than an inspector. All livestock slaughtered prior to such tagging may be dressed, processed, or prepared under inspection.