What do the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire & the Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” Have in Common?

Answer: People are still getting injured and killed on the job because their employers fail to comply with safety laws. 

After the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 many state and federal laws were enacted to help protect workers. Once the New York legislature enacted safety laws, other states did as well.  Also, workers began to unionize to have a collective voice to express their concerns over safety and pay.   However, even though  today there are many laws that govern the condition of workplaces some employers still create dangerous situations for employees and even customers.  For example, on March 25, 1990, the 79th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 87 people were killed in the the Happy Land Social Club fire in the Bronx, New York. Most of the people killed in this tragedy were not workers but customers.   Their deaths were due to things like no sprinkler system or fire alarms in the building. The windows had iron bars on them.  There was only one door for people to use.   

Another example, is the fire in a North Carolina poultry factory on September 3, 1991 that killed 25 workers. The exits were ill marked, blocked and the doors were padlocked to prevent theft.

And most recently, the $65 million “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” Broadway musical has been investigated by OSHA after an actor was injured when he fell 30 feet into a stage pit.  The accident was the fourth serious job related injury on the set of the show.  As a result of the investigation, OSHA issued three citations to the show.  According to OSHA, the cast had been exposed to “the hazards of falls or being struck during flying routines because of improperly adjusted or unsecured safety harnesses.” 

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire remains as a turning point in US history and even though employers have clear standards established by OSHA to ensure the safety of employees, we know that these laws are broken everyday putting people’s lives in danger.  Is your employer putting you in harms way?