Unsafe working conditions is a topic that is constantly brought up in industrial relations, especially when concerning the safety of employees. I have read about many incidents, regarding unsafe working conditions, where workers have been injured or even died; but I had never heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911. According to different sources, the deaths from the fire were somewhere in the range of 141 to 146 people, most of them young girls.
The articles describe how most of the victims of the fire were suffocated or burned alive inside, but they also mention those unfortunate victims who made it to the windows and jumped, sadly to their untimely deaths on the pavement. .
"Three stories of a ten-floor building at the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place were burned yesterday, and while the fire was going on 141 young men and women at least 125 of them mere girls were burned to death or killed by jumping to the pavement below.".
(New York Times, March 26, 1911, p. 1).
It was also noted in a March 28th article of the New York Times that while the doors where these employees worked were not locked, they were certainly very tightly closed so tightly in fact that the firefighters had to use axes to chop through the doors. Then Fire Chief Croker said, "if not locked they were at least closed so firmly that only an axe could affect a passage through them." This statement alone, in my opinion, shows how unsafe this place was. If the only way to get in was with using axes, even though the doors were not locked, then it must have obviously been difficult for the workers to get out as well.
After the fire, the Local 25 of the ILGWU stepped in to deal with the situation of unsafe working conditions. Investigations were conducted, and even an investigating committee was setup to deal with it. While the owners of the building, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, were acquitted, this event did serve to help American Industrial Relations with maintaining safe working conditions.