100th anniversary of Triangle Shirtwaist fire

2011/03/25

On 25 March 1911, 146 people died in a catastrophic fire at a textile factory because the doors leading to the escape routes were locked. The fire, one of the worst occupational accidents on record, became a national issue and initiated more stringent occupational safety regulations in the USA.

Munich. On 25 March 1911, 146 people died in a catastrophic fire at a textile factory because the doors leading to the escape routes were locked. The production facilities were located on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of a building in Greenwich Village. The victims, mainly young women, had absolutely no chance to reach safety because the doors to the escape routes had been locked as a precaution against theft. Even now, in terms of fire disasters that have occurred in the employment field, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire ranks only behind the 11 September terrorist attacks. Subsequently, a series of occupational health and safety laws was enacted in the USA.

This was because the fire catastrophe struck at the height of the first US liability crisis, which had been triggered by a flood of occupational accident suits. Gradually, from 1910 onwards, the liability of the employer was replaced by state-run workers' compensation insurance.

The debate on workers' compensation and employers' liability still continues some 100 years later. Today (Friday), Munich Re is holding a high-level conference on new perspectives in the employers' liability field, at which the results of a broad-based comparative law study on employers' liability will be presented. The study was compiled by researchers from the European Centre of Tort and Insurance Law in Vienna (ECTIL) and Munich Re.

You will find further further information on the employers' liability situation in a number of different countries in the current issue of our Topics magazine.

 

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