Food manufacturing giant Talley’s has hired former Police Commissioner Mike Bush to carry out what it describes as an “independent investigation” of its vegetable processing factory in Ashburton, following a 1 NEWS investigation into the company’s safety practices.
Bush started his review three weeks ago, after a series of whistleblowers came forward to allege several health and safety violations, and has already visited the site.
Talley’s have denied those claims and their chief executive, Tony Hazlett, said in a statement today that he believes their systems will “withstand scrutiny and validate the work our staff have been doing to improve our health and safety”.
However, 1 NEWS can now also reveal that Talley’s has regularly reported injuries endured at that same Ashburton factory to Government watchdog WorkSafe.
An Official Information Act (OIA) request released today shows the company had 25 incidents serious enough to require a formal notification to the regulator within the last 10 years at that one plant alone, including 15 “serious harm notifications” and nine notifiable injuries or illnesses.
They have continued to report notifications of injury or illness in recent years, with two recorded in 2017, three in 2018, two in 2019, one in 2020 and another in 2021.
Talley’s say the findings of their “independent investigation” will be delivered to Talley’s in August, and then passed to WorkSafe for review. However, they refused to respond to an inquiry over whether the findings of the report will be made available to the public.
The company says it is also cooperating with a “top to bottom review” announced by WorkSafe, which is currently arranging its own site visits to their factories.