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Over 170 Talley's staff injured at three sites in one year, probe reveals

Food manufacturing giant Talley’s recorded 174 separate injuries to workers over the course of a single year at its three manufacturing sites in Marlborough, a 1 NEWS investigation can reveal.

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Whistleblowers have come to 1 NEWS with allegations about the Talley’s plant in Blenheim. Source: 1 NEWS

Talley’s Ashburton factory is already under an independent investigation, following concerns aired by 1 NEWS.

Now, those concerns extend even further, with whistleblowers coming forward over the company's operation in Blenheim.

If you have any more information about this story please email 1 NEWS reporter Thomas Mead at thomas.mead@tvnz.co.nz

Earlier this month, photos were leaked of filthy machines at the Ashburton factory despite Talley's CEO Tony Hazlett saying the machines are cleaned regularly.

The company runs a massive operation in Marlborough - their marketing material showing the production of seafood, vegetables and more.

But now, 1 NEWS has obtained leaked documents, revealing what those ads don't show - the human impact.

Boxes of frozen food on the floor of a Talley's factory. Source: Supplied

An internal report shows there were 174 injuries in Blenheim, Havelock and Picton alone between October 2019 and September 2020 - an average of one every two or three days.

Injuries included:

- 10 where people were caught between objects
- 3 "caught in machinery"
- 12 "chemical" incidents
- 35 'colliding with object'
- and 26 cuts with a knife.

1 NEWS has also been leaked two independent health and safety audits, conducted at the Blenheim site.

Talley’s launches independent review in response to allegations in 1 NEWS story

The first, in February 2019, identified multiple critical issues that required action.

The auditor noting "there is likely to be significant number of unreported incidents or near misses".

And, in a visit to site 23 separate issues were noted, including a worker clearing a jam in a hopper while it was still operating.

In a second report in July 2020, the auditor noticed a clear improvement, but graded "the health and safety of employees, contractors and subcontractors" - at just 50 per cent - saying "it appears that all incidents and near misses are not reported across site".

1 NEWS has spoken to two anonymous whistleblowers who add to that - claiming health and safety concerns are regularly ignored at the Blenheim plant.

“They just want to ignore you, and brush it under a carpet because there's paperwork that comes with it, and it's put in the too hard basket, or it's going to cost too much money,” one said.

It was also alleged that when staff do file reports, they're often not followed up.

“I never heard back about any of it - one was very serious, I wouldn't have gone home to my family,” a complainant said.

In response, the company gave 1 NEWS a statement from their independent auditor, QMS - who said “it is clear there is a substantial commitment by the company to health, safety and wellbeing of their staff”.

More whistleblowers share images of incidents at Talley’s Ashburton factory

“Talley’s have made significant improvements to their health and safety systems.”

Hazlett added the reports show “we’ve improved on every measure each year since 2019 … We’re going to continue making progress."

But those 1 NEWS spoke to say the company needs a culture change.

“People need to go home every night to their families, these people are coming to work for hours and hours on end -they give up so much, and they deserve to go home,” a staffer said.