Updated:Mar 24, 2021Original:Mar 25, 2019How the Horrific Tragedy the the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire led to Workplace safety Laws
Young women came to be trapped by tables, bulky equipment and doors the locked or opened the wrong way as flames enveloped the eighth, ninth and also 10th floors the the Asch structure in brand-new York City’s Greenwich village on March 25, 1911. As human being struggled come escape, several fell into the flames, your bodies piling by clogged exits. Others leapt—in twos and also threes—out the burn building's high windows.

You are watching: How did testimony such as this from the triangle shirtwaist factory disaster affect the workplace?

The march 25, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was among the deadliest workplace disasters in U.S. Ubraintv-jp.com, declare the resides of 146 workers, most of them ladies immigrants in your teens and also twenties. The fire was so horrific it shocked the conscience of brand-new Yorkers and others across the country and, ultimately, led to changes in safety regulations and much more diligent initiatives to force them. 


Fire hoses spray water top top the top floors the the Asch Building, housing the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, ~ above Washington and also Greene roadways in new York City, throughout the fire on march 25, 1911.

Keystone/Getty Images

Deplorable working Conditions

The fire, claims Paul F. Cole, director of the American Labor research studies Center, “awakened a country to the dangerous and also deplorable problems that numerous workers faced on a daily basis.”

The disaster’s causes were complex. In the at an early stage 1890s, immigrants from Italy and eastern Europe concerned the united States in search of a far better life, yet instead often found themselves in areas such as the Triangle waist Company, where they functioned 12-and-a-half-hour days because that $6 a week, follow to one AFL-CIO ubraintv-jp.com that the fire. They had actually to it is provided their own needles, thread, irons and also sometimes, even their own sewing machines.

Working conditions were so negative that the ladies didn’t also have accessibility to a restroom in the building, and also doors to be locked so the they couldn’t walk outside and also slow under production. And also though the place was fill with very flammable materials, there was little attention paid to fire prevention.

Discontent end wages and also working conditions at Triangle and also the city’s other garment factories led tens of countless workers to strike in 1909, seeking concessions such together a 20 percent pay hike and also a 52-hour week, as well as safer functioning conditions. Most of the manufacturing facility owners easily settled, yet Triangle’s owners withstood the demands. When the strike ended in February 1910, workers went earlier to their jobs without a union agreement, follow to the AFL-CIO ubraintv-jp.com.

See more: Q: How Much Do Carpenters Get Paid, Carpenter Salary

“Triangle to be the most hostile that the owner to the union,” describes Richard Greenwald, historian and also dean that the college of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University and also author that a 2011 book, The Triangle Fire, Protocols of Peace and also Industrial Democracy In steady Era brand-new York. “They relocated production the end of NYC in 1909 to stop the strike, rental thugs to beat writers and also most likely bribed the police to arrest strikers.”

Triangle Factory's Fire Safety: north Water Buckets

On the afternoon of in march 25, a Saturday, 500 world were functioning in Triangle’s factory, which populated three floors in a building that had actually been developed just 10 years before. Court testimony later placed the blame because that the blaze ~ above a fire that started in a towel scrap bin ~ above the eighth floor, which probably was ignited through a discarded cigarette, shortly before the factory’s 4 pm closing time.

Triangle had water buckets in location for extinguishing fires, a usual practice in garment factories at the time. However as one worker, mar Domsky-Abrams, later recalled in very early 1960s interview with author Leon Stein, the buckets to be empty. “On that certain morning, the work of the tragedy, i remarked to mine colleagues that the buckets were empty, and that if anything to be to happen, they would certainly be of no use,” she said.

Another worker, Cecilia walker Friedman, who worked on the 9th floor, stated that she was ready to leave work when she looked to the home window and witnessed flames. Everyone approximately her started to scream and also holler, but many were hindered in gaining away. “The girls at the machines began to rise up top top the maker tables, maybe because it was that they to be frightened or probably they assumed they might run come the elevator doors on height of the machines,” Friedman said. “The aisles to be narrow and also blocked through the chairs and baskets. They began to loss in the fire.