Work Injury, The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911

Work Injury history. This week marks 104 years since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, a tragedy that changed our country forever. On that horrible day, dangerous workplace conditions started a fire at a garment factory in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Within 20 minutes, 146 people were dead-almost all of them young immigrant women. America reacted with outrage. The backlash to this incident became a turning point in the history of work injury legislation and the US and global labor movements. In the ensuing decades, key labor and workplace safety laws that we now think of as obvious were first put into place. Workers’ compensation laws were put on the books. The American people resolved that those young women did not die in vain.

Many died from the fire, smoke inhalation, and even falling or jumping to their death. Many were Italian or Jewish women immigrants ages 16-23. The owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits, a common practice at the time to prevent unauthorized breaks and stealing.

Unfortunately, 104 years later many folks in this country have forgotten the painful lessons of that day. American workers need to be protected and know they can work without risking their life for a days wages. Workers’ Compensation laws, Occupational Health and Safety Laws, International safety standards, and an increase in the International Garment Workers Union have resulted from this tragedy. Unfortunately, often times big lobbying interests try to whittle away at those statutes in the name of business and greater income to corporations, shareholders or argue larger tax revenues for their state.

The tragic photographs form the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire should capture our attention. They may look like distant history but they show a society that did nothing to protect it’s workers. One hundred and five years later, we cannot make the mistake of thinking the battle is won. America can afford to protect its workers. And the people of this country deserve to be led by men and women who care whether Americans can get home safely to their families at the end of their shift. The young women who died on that fateful day deserve at least that much.

The above was taken in part from the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group.

Dugan & Associates is a law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of injured workers. Attorney Dugan and his team of work injury lawyers work to get people the workers’ compensation payments, medical benefits, and lump sum settlements they are entitled under the workers’ compensation laws in Pennsylvania. Questions about workers’ compensation contact the experienced legal team and layers at 1-888-99-D-U-G-A-n or 1-888-993-8426.

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