Triangle Factory Laws

Triangle Factory Laws

The tragic Triangle Waist Company fire on March 25, 1911 in New York City’s Greenwich Village was a major turning point in American history. One hundred and forty-six workers, mostly teenage Jewish and Italian immigrant girls, perished after the fire broke out on Triangle Company’s sweatshop on the 8th  and 9th floors of the building. Many were locked in, a common measure to prevent theft, and the only available exit was a multi-story plummet to the pavement below. Others burned alive or were stampeded to death in the rush to escape.

After the Fire  Governor John Alden Dix (D) created the Factory Investigating Commission (FIC) and granted it powers unprecedented in New York’s history. The FIC experienced remarkable success in restricting child labor and granting women workers a reasonable workday. The FIC even tried to institute a minimum wage for New York, but political opponents stifled the policy proposal. Other accomplishments include:

Automatic sprinklers became mandatory in buildings seven stories or higher and factories of 200 or more employees.

Factory doors had to be unlocked during work hours, and they were required to swing outwards.

A building construction code requiring that new buildings include multiple enclosed fireproof stairways and fire escapes.

Employers are required to provide clean drinking water, washrooms, and toilets for their employees.

 Women could work no more than a 54 hour work week and nine hours a day.

Children ages 18 and under were banned from work that could injure their health and well-being.

Cry Wolf Quotes

They are not over-intelligent…They formed habits of living that they carried with them to their work, and that made it very difficult indeed to correct them.

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Arthur S. Summers, a manufacturer of dry colors.
03/01/1912 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

They pay absolutely no attention to the fire hazard or to the protection of the employees in these buildings. That is their last consideration.

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Retired New York City Fire Chief Edward F. Croker, 1913
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

This bill will make it difficult for the poor baker to continue to exist, thereby making it easier for the large baker to combine with his larger brother and increase the price of bread or lower the size of the loaf, why, that is a very strong point in opposition to this bill, because the very people you are going to aid—the poor have got to be taken into consideration.

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Harold M. Phillips, of the United States Real Estate Owners Association. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

The only tendency toward illness comes to men who are intemperate in their habits. In every case of poisoning I have heard of, the man was an exceedingly hard drinker….Where the men are temperate in their habits I never found a case…

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Arthur S. Summers, a manufacturer of dry colors.
03/01/1912 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws