Problems and Reform at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory New York Factory Investigating Commission

Laws that were violated at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company

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Laws that were violated at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company:


LAW: "All doors leading in or to any such factory shall be constructed as to open outwardly, where practicable, and shall not be locked, bolted, or fastened during working hours."

TRIANGLE: The Washington Place door was locked.

The prosecution argued that the door was locked and introduced witness who testified that at the time of the fire she tried the door "in and out, all ways" and was unable to open the door.  The prosecution also showed that many of the victims of the fire died in front of the door.  The prosecution argued that Harris and Blanck kept the door locked, especially near quitting time, to force exiting workers to pass through the only other exit, where they could be inspected if they were suspected of trying to steal waists. 

The defense contended that the door was open, but that the fleeing workers were unable to exit through the door because of fire in the stairwell.  The defense introduced a witness who said that on the day of the fire a key was tied to the lock with the string and that she used the key to open the door.  (The prosecution claimed the witness lied. If there was a key, then that means that they knew the door was locked.)

Also, the door opened inward, and not out.

LAW: Buildings with more than 2,500 square feet per floor--but less than 5,000 square feet per floor--require two staircases.  Each additional 5,000 square feet per floor requires an additional staircase.
TRIANGLE: The Triangle Shirtwaist Company floors had 10,000 square feet of space.  Any additional floor space would have required a third staircase.  As it was, two staircases--the number the Triangle factory had--sufficed.

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