(WHTM) – The federal government has fined a Pennsylvania chocolate factory for failing to protect its workers from a deadly explosion.

The natural gas explosion at R. M. Palmer in West Reading killed seven people including an Ephrata woman.

Osha says the company did not evacuate the plant on March 24 even though multiple employees warned they smelled gas.

Osha said in a statement today, “Seven workers will never return home because the R. M. Palmer company did not evacuate the facility after being told of a suspected gas leak. – – The company could have prevented this horrific tragedy by following required safety procedures.”

R.M. Palmer denies it violated workplace safety standards.

It has been fined $44,000.