All across the country this year, various organizations have lined up a number of activities in memory of those who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City exactly a century ago. That fire, which claimed 146 lives, is possibly the worst workplace disaster to have happened in American soil, but certainly not the last. And so a public memorial is to be built, HBO and PBS have both produced and aired their own documentary pieces on the tragedy, and the Secretary of Labor has said her piece about what the triangle shirtwaist fire means for workers now.
Now there are a lot of horrible things about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. People at the time were shocked to learn that the exit door had been padlocked by the company employers so as to discourage petty theft. Worse, these same employers were never convicted, and, in the settlement that followed years later, ended up paying only $75 to the heirs of each victim. But the worst thing about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire is the fact that similar tragedies still continue to take place.
According to the International Labor Organization, one worker dies every 15 seconds from work-related illnesses and accidents. Imagine that. Within the same amount of time that you spend watching a regular feature film, more than three hundred and sixty workers from all over the globe would have already died from causes that could have been easily prevented with the right amount of legislation and observance of workplace safety standards.
And if you think that these accidents and disasters only happen in third world countries, think again. Here in good old America, 16 people die each day in the workplace. 98 percent of all garment factories located in the Los Angeles area poseserious health and safety problems. And in April of last year, 29 miners died in the Upper Big Branch Mine in Virginia.
If we are truly sincere about remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, then, we should focus our attention to the disasters that are happening now.
Of the many hazards an employee can encounter in the workplace, fire is one of the most frightening. Make every workplace a safe place to work in. Provide your employees with fire safety training and teach them how to use fire extinguishers effectively.