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The Tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and Its Impact on Workplace Safety Legislation

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The industrialization era brought many types of technology that made farmer’s lives much easier but in the progressive era we try to help workers from factories and children from mines make their lives safer, by giving children an opportunity to go to school and my adding safe fire exits for workers.

The horrific tragedy occured on March 25th, 1911. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory the fire broke out on the top floors. It was burning and the fire spread quickly, the owners locked the door because they thought that the workers would steal their product. The hallway is long and narrow, the door was inward it was hard to open when the workers would run towards the door and they would line up pushing it, some even went too far by jumping out through the window to their deaths. When the firefighters came in the they tried to use the ladder but it couldn’t reach the workers. Half an hour later 146 out of 500 workers have died in the fire mostly young women died, some bodies were so badly charred that they couldn’t be identified. In the end the factory owners Blanck and Harris were charged with first and second degree manslaughter. After the tragedy the there was later a development of laws and safety rules to make the working conditions safer for the workers. New York passed the Sullivan Hoey Fire Prevention on October 1911 and it required all factories to have sprinkler systems to not let it happen again. New York also passed laws to make it safer other cities and states would follow this suit. Many states also adopted workers compensation laws, which set up funds to pay workers who were hurt on the job.

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Many children around the age of 10 to 12 would work in mines that would roughly get around 50 to 60 cents, some have never been inside of a school, in Virginia it was legal for boys around 12 to work in mines day and night. Working in the mines for children was damaging physically with cut, broken, or crushed fingers. They would scream out loud because of an accident, working in the mines deformed them into old men, they would get tangled with the machines, sometimes kids would fall into the chute and come out dead. This act was later resolved when congress added many laws so that the children working there could have a safer and better opportunity and go to school by. A lawyer named Florence Kelley helped convince the state of Illinois to ban child labor, Kelley also helped in 1902 for the National Child Labor Committee which successfully lobbied the federal government to create the U.S Child Bureau in 1912. In 1916 Congress passed the Keating-Owens Act to ban child labor in all states, but was called unconstitutional. It wasn’t until in 1938 Congress got rid of child labor for good.

Times were tough back then because they didn’t have the resources that we have today it’s great not that we have a safety fire exit in every building so that no one would have to know what they saw in the shirtwaist fire tragedy, and better yet the children are safe in schools and aren’t outside doing things that could get themselves killed in their age.

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The Tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and Its Impact on Workplace Safety Legislation. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“The Tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and Its Impact on Workplace Safety Legislation.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
The Tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and Its Impact on Workplace Safety Legislation. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Dec. 2023].
The Tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and Its Impact on Workplace Safety Legislation [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Dec 10]. Available from:
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