The West Yorkshire Fire Service told FoodManufacture.co.uk that one contractor suffering from burns was taken to Pinderfield Hospital in Wakefield. Six other workers, five suffering from smoke inhalation and one from shock, were taken to Dewsbury District Hospital.
The accident happened when an oil storage tanker was being decommissioned at the plant, according to a statement from Fox’s Biscuits.
“Fox’s Biscuits has experienced an incident at our Batley site today, which resulted in a contractor to the site suffering burns to his legs, following a spark in a diesel tank on the perimeter of the site,” said the statement.
“The individual’s burns are not believed to be life threatening and he is now being assessed at hospital and our first priority is his welfare. All of our safety and emergency procedures were followed and the fire brigade attended the site as a precaution.”
Mel Bugler, acting md of Fox’s Biscuits, said: “Safety is the highest priority across all of our sites.
“Clearly, there will be a full investigation. However, our first priority is the welfare of the affected contractor and we are liaising with the hospital and being kept informed of the situation.
“As a precaution, we evacuated the site following the incident and followed all of our safety and emergency procedures. All of our 450 colleagues have been accounted for, they are safe and warm and we anticipate being able to return to production during the afternoon.”
Wasn’t an explosion
A spokesman for the firm denied BBC News reports of an explosion at the site. “It wasn’t an explosion. The incident was caused by a spark in the diesel tank after something was poured onto it. This created a lot of smoke”
A Health and Safety Executive team has been sent to investigate the source of the fire.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: “We have sent our information to the Health and Safety Executive and any criminal investigation will follow its findings.”
The Fox's Biscuits factory in Batley was saved from closure last July. Its parent firm Northern Foods said in 2008 it wanted to merge its plants in Batley and Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.
But last year, Northern Foods confirmed that the Batley unit would remain open.