Reading, PA — (WJET/WFXP/– Investigators from the United States Department of Labor determined this week that the candy maker failed to evacuate their employees despite knowing about a potential gas leak before the factory exploded in March, 2023.

An investigation launched by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after an explosion at the R.M. Palmer Co. factory in Reading, PA has determined that workers were not removed from the facility despite several workers raising concerns over smelling gas.

Seven workers died in the explosion that leveled one building, damaged several others and was later determined to have been caused by a natural gas leak.

R.M. Palmer Co. has also been cited by OSHA for not marking emergency exit signs clearly, using flexible cords improperly and for recordkeeping violations.

In total, R.M. Palmer Co. is facing $44,483 in citations.

“Seven workers will never return home because the R.M. Palmer Co. did not evacuate the facility after being told of a suspected gas leak,” said OSHA Area Director Kevin T. Chambers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “Ensuring the safety of a workplace is expected of employers and required by law. The company could have prevented this horrific tragedy by following required safety procedures.”   

Headquartered in West Reading, R.M. Palmer Co. has manufactured chocolate and other confections at its Pennsylvania facility since 1948 and produces, packages and ships over 500 types of products across North America while employing about 850 people.