Federal safety officials fined a Camden chocolate plant $39,000 yesterday for safety violations following the death of a factory worker who fell into a vat of chocolate last summer.

Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Moorestown-based Lyons & Sons Inc. and Cocoa Services L.P. for failing to install railings above the tanks or post signs warning workers of potential hazards.

"It is absolutely imperative these companies rectify these violations to prevent other workplace tragedies from occurring," OSHA director Paula Dixon-Roderick said in a prepared statement.

A woman who answered the phone at a number shared by Lyons & Sons and Cocoa Services said the company had no comment.

On the morning of July 8, Vincent Smith II, a temporary worker who had started at the plant two weeks earlier, was loading raw cocoa into an eight-foot mixing and melting tank when he fell into the liquid chocolate and was struck on the head by a rotating paddle.

After the accident, Lyons & Sons was temporarily closed and eventually fined $1,152 by the City of Camden when inspectors discovered the plant had been operating without a mercantile license.

Inspectors also found plumbing and electrical problems on the property, which, in a July interview, company officials said had been corrected.