Arguably, the turning point for occupational safety and health in this country was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in lower Manhattan on March 25, 1911, when 146 garment workers – mostly young women from immigrant families – lost their lives attempting to escape the burning building. Fire exit doors were locked and other doors only opened inward, making it impossible for the onrush of workers to open the doors. A ninth-floor fire escape led nowhere. Fire department ladders and hoses could not reach the upper floors.
Occupational safety and health became front-page news 106 years ago on March 25 because of a workplace tragedy in New York City that claimed the lives of 146 workers.