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ASSE’s NY City Chapter Looks Back at 100 Years of Safety, Triangle Tragedy

Posted in on Wed, Mar 23, 2011

For Immediate Release                             Contact:   Diane Hurns,  dhurns@asse.org,  Mike Voudouris, 718-896-1145

 ASSE’s NY City Chapter Looks Back at 100 Years of Safety, Triangle Tragedy          

NEW YORK CITY, NY (March 23, 2011) – Seven months after the horrific March 25, 1911, New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) was founded in New York City by a group of concerned safety and insurance professionals. Today, the now Illinois-based ASSE has more than 33,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members located worldwide committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Some say ASSE is one of the legacies left by the 146 women and men who died in the Triangle workplace fire that Saturday in March.

This week the NY City chapter will be host to a commemorative dinner March 24 in memory of the victims as part of the 100th anniversary of the fire as well as participating in an ‘After the Fire’ conference at the City University of New York Murphy Institute and the Friday, March 25, events at the site of the fire on the NY University campus. The March 24 ASSE event will be held at the NY City Fire Museum.

On a Saturday afternoon, March 25, a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in the Asch Building took the lives of 146 women and men unable to escape due to inadequate safety protections. Doors were locked, the fire escape had melted. Many desperate to escape jumped out the windows with their clothes on fire to their deaths to the pavement below while thousands of New Yorkers unable to help watched in horror.  Many jumped to their deaths into the elevator shaft.  Public outrage and grief at this horrific tragedy led to new work and safety legislation, rules and regulations countrywide. Months later in NY City ASSE was formed as a result of the fire and the modern work safety movement began. 

Today, workplaces are safer but more needs to be done. On March 24, NY ASSE members along with special guests, ASSE President-Elect Terrie Norris, CSP, ARM, state officials, members of the Remember the Triangle coalition and more will remember the victims, review the tragedy, what transpired afterwards and look at what needs to be done to ensure workplace safety now and in the future. Former NY Fire Marshall and ASSE member Chris Connor will discuss the fire then and fire safety now.

Similar workplace tragedies continue to occur such as in Hamlet, North Carolina, in 1991, when 25 people died in a chicken production factory fire. The doors were locked and the workers were trapped inside. However, today millions of people go to work and leave work injury and illness free to return home safely due, in part, to the work of occupational safety, health and environmental professionals.

ASSE’s documentary on work safety the past 100 years titled ‘ASSE – Celebrating a Century of Safety’ that starts with the Triangle fire can be viewed at www.asse.org/assecenturyofsafety . Its free brochure, the Triangle/ASSE history, is at www.asse.org/newsroom.
Founded in 1911 and celebrating its centennial, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety society and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 33,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, healthcare and education. Go to www.asse.org for more information.

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