A change of heart and mind has allowed this site manager to rest a little easier—but not on his laurels.
Troy Finnen, site manager at Prima Tower Brookfield Multiplex—Platinum Partner of the NSCA Foundation—speaks to National Safety.
When Troy Finnen first entered the building industry, he was all about meeting production targets. “We are a very progressive industry, so we set fairly aggressive targets. And it’s very easy when you’re new in the industry to look at the targets and not at how you’re getting to them,” he says.
He wasn’t alone. “You come into the industry young and as you grow there are definitely people around you like that, [too],” says Finnen. But senior people were also reminding him that there was more to targets than production, he said.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t until incidents started to happen that he took any notice. He says they weren’t big incidents—but they didn’t have to be. “A minor safety incident can cause you incredible delays, not to mention the mental effects [of having] had some responsibility for, or hand in, someone being injured,” he says.
Following a few of these experiences, he felt more open to education and accepting people’s advice. “[After a while] anyone that is half smart soon starts to realise, ‘Oh, hang on, I could have still got there without (a) the grief and (b) the possibility that I could have had some direct involvement in a safety incident,’” he says.
Experience has taught him that consultation and learning from others is paramount to creating safe and productive workplaces.
Now in the role of site manager, when it comes to toolbox talks, Finnen says, “I’ve always been first … to say, ‘Right, gentlemen, this is an open-forum discussion here. [You can say anything.] There are no dumb questions, only dumb answers. Just throw it all out there …and between the groups we can hear everyone’s opinion and come up with the best solution and the way forward.’”
I’m very reluctant to reward individuals,” he says. “Everyone loves a hug and a pat on the back but, when anything succeeds on a project, I’m yet to find any one individual who can put their hand up and say, ‘I did that!’
So, what’s his response to workers who remind him of his earlier self? “Your mental state on aggressive construction can be, as I said earlier, all about the targets. But I keep reminding people to stop, think and look at what is going on around [them] constantly,” he says. “And, if you see something that is not being done safely, pull it up and don’t think it will be okay, because the one time you think it will be okay will be the one that will bite you.”
He believes there is a need for policing worksites. But this can be minimised by working as a team and communicating: Workers should be allowed to say to one another, ‘I’m about to do this, so how does this affect you?’ “And that comes back to good managers ensuring we don’t promote any kind of competition that sees people heading in their own direction and forgetting what’s going on beside them,” he adds.
I’m a big fan of a good team environment. And I’m very reluctant to reward individuals,” he says. “Everyone loves a hug and a pat on the back but, when anything succeeds on a project, I’m yet to find any one individual who can put their hand up and say, ‘I did that!’
“It is through teamwork and the overall team making it happen. Everyone plays a little part, especially on the bigger sites.”
One of the biggest things Finnen has learned over the years is “accepting that the people around me, no matter what rank they are, from the top to the bottom, have something to contribute”, he says.
Ultimately, he believes it’s about instilling a culture of “If it can’t be done safely, you don’t do it.” Safety comes first and innovation and the build are part of that. He has found if you get these basics right, “when you line up all your ducks, things just seem to work for you”. The need to police work and patronise workers disappears.
“When you line up all your ducks, things just seem to work for you”. The need to police work and patronise workers disappears.
“I know the culture of Brookfield Multiplex … I know the people who come and work for us know the culture, and if you do the right thing, no-one wants someone leaning over their shoulder telling them they’re doing the wrong thing all day …” he says.
This way of working also allows for more time to be spent on other activities that benefit the organisation, he adds. And it helps promote peace of mind.
“As a site manager on a project, I would end up a ‘basket case’ if I thought that, in any way, shape or form, when I went home at night there was something happening, some risk that I wasn’t comfortable with— I would never sleep.”
He says it’s been a long time since he has woken up in the middle of the night worried about the possibility of a safety incident. “I sleep easy because I know what we do, what our systems are, and that our subcontractors [and other workers] are all up to speed with our culture,” he says.