Protect Food Factory Employees From Dangerous Detonations

Target: Douglas L. Parker, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

Goal: Increase safety guidelines and accountability in food manufacturing following fatal factory blast.

Factory workers should not have to go on the job and wonder if they’ll ever return home. But after the tragedy that befell the R.M. Palmer Co. chocolate factory in Pennsylvania, such fears are likely heightened. A massive blast rocked the factory, killing over half a dozen employees and injuring more (one woman almost burned alive until she reportedly fell into a vat of chocolate).

The exact cause of the explosion has not yet been identified, but survivors reported smelling gas at least half an hour prior to the blast. No action, including evacuation, was apparently taken by supervisors. The severity of this incident could also highlight a deeper problem that runs across food manufacturing: the presence of highly combustible elements. In chocolate production, such elements may include cocoa, ammonia, and especially starch. Dust from these products poses an especially dangerous hazard, and these particles could have exacerbated a gas explosion exponentially.

Manufacturers are supposed to take steps to mitigate these risks, such as hazard tests. They are also supposed to document all potential combustibles and take steps to remove dangerous dust with aids like industrial vacuum cleaners. But since the company where this tragedy took place has apparently been investigated and fined for other workplace accidents in recent years, questions remain about whether proper precautions were taken.

Sign the petition below to demand America’s primary occupational safety agency evaluate all facts and take the necessary action both in this incident and to prevent future fatalities.


Dear Assistant Secretary Parker,

When the National Transportation Safety Board releases its preliminary findings concerning the Palmer factory explosion, immediate and decisive action can and should be taken. This company has a history of dangerous alleged workplace violations. If negligence played any role in the most recent tragedy, closure needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Perhaps more importantly, this agency should take a closer look at the threat posed by combustible dust within food manufacturing. In the past few decades, over a thousand workers have reportedly been injured in workplace blasts that were likely caused by the presence of these elements. Current standards and codes have proven insufficient in curbing these hazards. They need a thorough evaluation and update (with the assistance of experts such as the National Fire Protection Association) to save livelihoods and lives. No factory worker should have to die for the job.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Matthias Kabel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


234 Signatures

  • dawn lamarca
  • cat MIGLIANO
  • cat MIGLIANO
  • Karen Landry
  • Diane Racz
  • Allison Burgess
  • Brenda Arson
  • Brenda Dumont
  • Jennifer Crum
  • Aaron Grafton
1 of 23123...23
Skip to toolbar