Safety With Purpose #4 – Broken Window Theory with Bryan McWhorter

By Safeopedia Staff
Published: July 5, 2019 | Last updated: March 16, 2020
Key Takeaways

In this episode we are looking at what is called the Broken Window Theory with Bryan McWhorter of Safeopedia.


In this episode we are looking at what is called the Broken Window Theory with Bryan McWhorter of Safeopedia.

Podcast Transcript:

[00:04] Okay.


[00:08] All right. Again, welcome to safety with purpose. My name is Scott MacKenzie. You of course you guys, you people are the Safety Sherpa. So you are guiding us to the top of this mountain of success with safety and focus and knowledge to make that happen. Thank you very much for joining. We’re going to be talking about the broken window theory in this particular episode of safety with purpose, the cars. It comes from that man safety, a professional by the name of Bryan McWhorter. Hope you enjoy because I was very interested in. So let’s get going. Busy people out there. I know you guys are busy people. Once again, we’re just going to make it quick, simple, fast, no fuss, no Muss. So let’s get going. Tailgate talk number one. Okay, I’ll go to safeopedia. Once again, I look at the menu, I go to the Q and a and I find a topic that I want to talk about here on safety with purpose.

[01:00] And one of the things is because I was a, I’m a journeyman Lineman, I climbed at towers. Uh, and it’s a good thing I didn’t have this information because I’d be petrified, but you know, it is what it is at what heights do falls become deadly. That’s right. At what heights do falls become a deadly. So what’s interesting to me, one of the stats is that a close to 12% of fatal falls result between six and 10 feet. So just, just six and 10 feet. I mean, you must be hitting your head on that, but that’s serious. That’s close to 12% of the fatalities come between six and 10 feet. And then a close to 20% between 11 and 15 and then back to wound 18% falls six 10 to 20% but here, here’s the clincher. Now, um, I’m looking at this and it says other trauma studies seem to include falls from the fourth floor.

[01:54] I mean, that’s about 48 feet has a 50% survival rate. 50%. I mean, if you survive that, I mean, you’re, you’re broken up pretty, pretty severely. And then of course about 84 feet or the seventh floor, you’re looking at only a 10% survival rate. That’s 84 feet. Now I climbed towers up to 400 plus 450, uh, feet. So I’m a, I’m really glad. Now there are other factors involved with this, of course, age and condition, like weather and, and, but, but once again, you gotta use the fall protection that is necessary for what you’re doing in the right way because I, I was shocked by the 12% of falls that took place, uh, between six and 10 feet. That to me is not that very tall. And of course you’re looking at a roof line. Of course you’re above six feet. So once again, be careful out there.

[02:49] Use Fall protection when you can. Number two, okay, once again, I’m going to take on that summer theme again and we’re going to be talking a little bit about [inaudible]. I’m going out to that, that the webinar section within Safeopedia because it costs you nothing. There is no reason and it’s all about knowledge and it’s all there and it’s being taught by the best of the best within the safety world. They are wonderful safety sherpas and we’re going to be talking a little bit about the biggest summer safety issues and solutions to address them now because it is summer, I’m not going to sit there and and and and you know expand upon it but you need to go out there it is summer. Once again you need to go out there and you need to find this Webinar and it is free chess register and this is brought to you by a gentleman by the name of, I guess I’m going to get a ride.

[03:39] Mario Salcedo and he’s a regional sales manager and Robin Regan and he’s the respiratory application training specialist. You know you can’t go wrong with that. So go out there and you find out what the biggest summer safety issues and solutions to address them and how to address them. That’s where you want to go. Okay. We’re going to be talking about the broken window theory, which is really interesting topic and it makes complete sense. It’s going to be brought to you by that. Uh, once again, that mad safety gentleman by the name of Bryan McWhorter, he is going to be talking a little bit about that and why it is important to repair that window. You know, that’s what it’s all about. So thank you very much once again for joining and safety with purpose. And here is Bryan McWhorter and we’re going to be talking broken window theory. All right, Bryan, welcome to safety with purpose. This is Bryan McWhorter. Did I get that right?


[04:32] Yes it is Scott.

[04:33] Oh, fantastic. We’re going to be talking right now about safety and the broken window theory. Talk to us about that there, Bryan.

[04:41] You Bet. Scott. Uh, the broken window theory was actually introduced by two social scientists around 1982 and since it was published, it’s really been used to influence safety law enforcement in lots of other fields. Um, to give you kind of like, in a nutshell, the broken window theory goes like this. If you have a vacant building and one or two windows get broken in it and they don’t get repaired within no time at all, other windows will get broken and vandalism will continue because the message is no one’s taking care of the building and it’s socially acceptable to break windows. And that’s the whole lesson behind the broken window theory is what is normalized or considered acceptable behavior. Uh, when Mr Giuliani became the mayor of New York a, he used the broken window theory to dry down a crime. At that time, crime rate in New York City was so high that businesses were avoiding it. They wouldn’t have a conventions there. Tourism was down. And people that lived in New York City rational removing their own car stereos as opposed to someone breaking in and stealing them.

[05:49] I remember that vividly. I hated New York and it was always made me feel uncomfortable. And so I know, and I lived through it and I

[05:58] completely, oh yeah. So what he did to employ the theory, they picked some laws of baseline were being enforced. One was a people jumping turns, ties at the, uh, subway. And the other were panhandlers I would go out and at J Walk to, you know, wash people’s windshields and Yvette. Yeah. So we told the police, well, you’ll write them up for jaywalking. And uh, the police first bulk at this thinking there were hundreds. Turns out they’re only like 67 pain handlers in the whole city doing this. But when they did it, they found hardened criminals and there was a ripple effect. Have a good things happening in terms of reducing crime. Over the eight years at marriage, Giuliani was at the reins there. Um, violent crime rate dropped by 56%. A murder dropped by two thirds robbery by 67%, aggravated assault by 28%. So it is truly amazing what had happened by starting to enforce these rules.

[06:58] Okay. Now if we take this into the rural to safety, okay. Um, I’ll go to my own experience. I was the safety manager for the world’s largest fluorescent light factory owned by global company. And a month after I took over as safety manager, I found out we had the worst safety record of any other factories globally. Any of them. If I had known that I might not have accepted the position. Might not have had that on your resume. Exactly. Go ahead. Now I had just learned about the broken window theory, but about this time and I told management about it and we found that we have a lot of safety rules that we didn’t enforce. Now this factory had been in operation since 1967 it always had high accidents, you know, it was accepted as normal. So we made our first broken window, actually making people to wear earplugs out on the factory floor.

[07:51] The decibel levels for noise were over 85, which meant you had to wear earplugs now. So supervisors didn’t like wearing them and managers on the floor don’t like wearing them. We didn’t really enforce it. So no one wore earplugs. You know the rule here again, uh, if you don’t enforce, you know, some of the rules, you’re probably not going to force any of the rules. Well you can’t pick and choose with this then. So we gave people a grace period and we said, you know, we’re going to start enforcing these. So I’ll go through the normal, you know, the verbal and then awarding and you could actually lose your job. You’re not following the safety rules. And sure enough, within a few months we started seeing the same thing that they saw New York, it’s a, it had a ripple effect through all our, our safety. We actually in a, this happened 2008 in 2009 we received a global safety, or excuse me, in 2009 we reduced our accents by 50% a year later in 2010 we reduce it by another 50% I received a global safety award, so it was definitely rural that we were able to employ and saw the same type of results.

[09:00] So again, safety is either proactive or as inactive. Again, you’ve got to enforce all the rules or you’re probably going to have a problem enforcing any of the rules.

[09:09] Good. Can I ask a question real quick? Did you have any push back on that? I mean there, there’s, that’s just one example of the broken window and the implementation of a solution and a process associated with earplugs. Now you roll out other examples, a broken safety, broken windows.

[09:32] Yeah. Actually a several for us there. That answer your question. I’m pushed back first. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of push back. Uh, again, this factory had been in operation since 1967 and so we had a long streak of not enforcing those rules. So when we told people we’re going to start doing it yet, they didn’t buy into it. But you know, when we started digging deeper, we found that there were other, uh, things not being followed. Also like people skipping lockout tag out,

[10:00] Whoa, Whoa, whoa, Whoa, whoa. That’s a whole other topic. And you know, wow. And, and so as a result of this broken window theory, focus on safety, it just naturally it began to affect the overall in a positive way, the safety data associated with that particular plant.

[10:26] Yeah, absolutely. It created, it was instrumental in creating a safety culture because you can’t say the safety’s important and ignore some of the rules. It just doesn’t work. It doesn’t play out with us. Hypocrisy

[10:38] you’re captain. It’s a definition of, yeah. So what I hear you saying, because these are going to be short segments to you, listeners out there, a safety with purpose. These are gonna be short segments. This is something that you can share with your team. And this particular a subject associated with window theory is I’m a big fan of eating that elephant one bite at a time and this is sort of that one, uh, one bite at a time. Elephant approach to safety. So you can’t just say, okay, everybody’s safe, boom John, and, and, and, and not have that incremental, um, focus and attention to that safety challenge. So I love the window theory concept. I really do.

[11:22] Yeah, that’s an excellent, I like the way you put it. Uh, you know, eating the elephant a bite at a time. It’s like duck hunting. You can’t aim at six ducks at once. You got to pick one and then go for that next.

[11:32] I never used that one. Now I am going to use that. I’m going to Bryan’s analogy because um,

[11:39] what we’re going to be trying to accomplish throughout these series is the ability to be able to incrementally help your company, your people to be safe and that’s what safety with purpose is all about. Bryan, thank you very much. Really appreciate sharing safety with purpose. You listeners out there, you got to recognize there’s going to be a lot more and by the way, if you’re listening right now, we’re going to have an article associated with that firm that will expand upon what Bryan has been talking about and that is safety and the broken window theory is at director Brown. All right, thank you very much for joining safety with purpose as always, you guys, you people, you individuals out there be safe, never cut corners

[12:24] with safety. As an [inaudible] industrial professional myself, I was always passionate about sales, marketing, brandy, expanding the marketplace for my company. That’s what Ian Dust, real talk platform is all about. It’s about you, the industrial company, the industrial professional and your legacy, increasing sales, gaining greater exposure on what you do and how you and your company change the world. Go out to that’s contact me. Let’s have a conversation to see how we can work with you on improving your bottom line and that you can be a part of an ever growing network of industrial companies focused on expanding and growing and leaving a legacy. I hope to hear from you soon and be safe out there.

[13:33] All right, you safety sherpas out there. Thank you very much for joining and safety with purpose. Once again, we’re going to recap a little bit about what we talked about. We talked about the broken window theory. Of course. I thought that was a great interview with Bryan McWhorter and then of course once again, hey, what hike or consider to be deadly and I mean that that one’s scared at it and once again that’s at the Q and a level and then as well as the last one and that is the Webinar that is talking about the biggest summer safety issues that you need to be aware of because it is summer. All right, go to You want to go one place. You’re trying to find some information. is the place for you. And if you’re looking for a solutions with marketing, sales, branding, industrial is the place for you. Again, thank you very much for joining safety with purpose. We’re going to keep on firing out great content because it’s all about you. It’s all about your safety. It’s all about getting you up that mountain, new safety Sherpas to success and, and, uh, coming home safely. So thank you very much. Be Safe out there. And we’re going to have another great topic for you just right around the corner. Take care of.

[14:38] Yes.

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Written by Safeopedia Staff

Safeopedia Staff

At Safeopedia, we think safety professionals are unsung superheroes in many workplaces. We aim to support and celebrate these professionals and the work they do by providing easy access to occupational health and safety information, and by reinforcing safe work practices.

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