For Thomas Barnard and Digital Realty, Construction Safety Week is a time to re-calibrate the foundations that drive production like good mental health, safe jobsites and connected teams.
As the HSE Director for Design and Construction, Thomas has led the transformation of Digital Realty's compliance, risk and safety approach (CRS). Through the implementation HammerTech, they have aligned and have insight into over three hundred data centers and respective controlling contractors across the globe.
We caught up with Thomas, on his way to spend time with controlling contractors and crews in Oregon. Tune in to find out:
- Where controlling contractors are focussing beyond OSHA's fatal four
- How a major global data center player improves standards across all projects globally with the buy-in of their controlling contractors.
- How to cut down your monthly reporting time to 5 minutes and gain more time in the field.
What’s the safety week focus for Digital Realty?
Georgia Bergers (00:26):
I'd love to understand from you, what is the focus for safety, for Digital Realty?
Thomas Barnard (00:45):
Family and people, you know, making sure that we all understand we're all this together, no matter who we are, wherever we're from, we all have a family to take care of. And that's, that's the most important thing we can, we can practice and talk about during safety week is getting back to those that we're, that we're actually working for. Right. We get up in the morning, we got some love in our heart. We go do our job, right? Whatever trade we're in and to keep each other safe, you know, and just be kind, you gotta be kind to each other, no matter who you are, where you're from, we're all in it together. So that's the important thing to take away this week.
Why is safety week important to you?
Georgia Bergers (01:22):
Awesome. Thank you. And I guess this, this question is much the same. Why is safety week important to you? Why do you think it's important that we as an industry take some time out, you know, safety's year-round, but why is it particularly important just for that one week, just to like really put an emphasis on it?
Thomas Barnard (01:40):
Well, I think we gotta refocus and reset and recalibrate everybody's thinking. And so process, cause we get these modes throughout the year that it's production, production, production, let's get things in place. We got a schedule, but at the same time we gotta keep people safe. And, and we gotta keep them healthy, you know, mental health. That's, that's been a big issue over the past couple years with the onset of the COVID pandemic. So, you know, we've lot of our controlling contractors have taken this week to focus, not, not just on the OSHA focus four, but focus on mental health of, of the craft not just at, at work, but at home as well. Those are very valuable points that we need to, we need to work on together. Right. And, and people need to know it's safe to reach out if we're having some struggles or if they need something and, and that you gotta give them a safe space. Right. So that's, that's very important.
What is Digital Realty’s vision for compliance, risk and safety?
Georgia Bergers (02:37):
That's fantastic. Yeah. I'm really pleased to hear that you are seeing that pattern across your GCs as well. And, and could you tell me about sort of stepping out for a moment about Digital Realty's vision for vision, for compliance, risk and safety, what's your vision for the construction division?
Thomas Barnard (02:57):
So our, our vision, you know, I'm the HSE director over D and C here kinda take a little global role over APAC and, and north America, south America. But you know, it's really important for us to be one speaking the same language, you know, we've gotta get every, everybody in alignment on what the expectations are, and then we gotta go boots on the ground. We gotta get out there and make sure it's implemented reassess our expectations, make sure that they're working for who we're setting those upon. Right. and just continuously improve those processes and procedures whatever.
How do you see HammerTech helping you realize this vision?
Georgia Bergers (03:42):
Yeah, I got you. And so we recently started working with you bringing in a compliance risk and safety platform to Digital Realty. And what I'd love to understand is how you hope that having a system in place like a HammerTech will help you realize that vision.
Thomas Barnard (04:03):
I think, you know, having a platform like HammerTech in place is really helping us be one global company. It's, it's driving consistency, sustainability alignment, and clarity and transparency. So we're able to see where, where people were, where we were lacking so that we can, we can improvise and adapt new processes and procedures and areas that we need to focus on with the part is, we're an owner. So, you know, we're owner, we own data, we've got hundred close to 300, 400 data centers globally now, and we're just continuing to grow. And we're really able to speak the same language with the platform. And it's evolving our safety culture globally because we we're implementing processes and procedures, not from O like you would here in north America or, or United States, but it's a global initiative to align standards, not to a certain set of compliance standards.
Thomas Barnard (05:13):
You know what I mean? We're just trying to be aligned to keep people safe and make sure that we have minimum requirements. A great example of this is, you know, there's not a minimum crane standard across the globe. We didn't have one. Well, we developed one and we rolled it out April. The first it's in HammerTech under our global policy and our, our trades across the globe have minimum requirements now to bring a big crane on that project. So that's, that's some of the mitigating things that we're able to leverage HammerTech with as well as drive engagement. So the trade partners we had several <laugh> workbooks. I'll just put it that way. Excel workbooks that we had to work with as directors in our, in our regions and globally and HammerTech has allowed us to leverage that information, drive engagement and consistency with the trade partners.
Thomas Barnard (06:10):
And it runs through power BI now. So it takes me five minutes every month to pull the information I, to make phone calls and get, get what I need out there. Right. which is it's, it's awesome because it allows me more time to be boots on the ground in the field, talking with, with our controller contractors. I love people. So I love getting out and talking with trades, I walk the project in Richardson closer to my house, the other, and, you know, they were having the safety stand down. As a matter of fact, it was yesterday got, I was out there at nine. O'clock had a safety stand down, got to meet all the craft on site. And it's just amazing how the culture is shifting. So with, with is the, the platform implementation as well as the control contractors driving the expectations of Digital Realty. So that's awesome.
What benefits are you GC’s seeing with HammerTech?
Georgia Bergers (07:01):
That's fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing. And so with, with the implementation and with that shift that you are seeing, what are some of the benefits that you are seeing? So whether it's, you know, you said one perhaps was around time, so time, time saving how are your GCs seeing this benefit them as well?
Thomas Barnard (07:22):
Well, they're seeing alignment they're seeing, I mean, it's at first there wasn't, there was only a little bit of pushback, you know, and then once we got 'em engaged with the process, they're like, oh, this is easy. You know, it's like, it's like playing a game on the, or, you know they go out and do an audit. It takes 20 minutes. And you know, some of our controlling contractors, they do an audit all week. Some of 'em go do it one day for 20 minutes cause everybody's different. So the platform allows that flexibility and we allow that flexibility. We don't have like a solid line expectation of you gotta go do 20 minute and it's an audit. This, it doesn't work that way. All we expect is you do one a week, 12 points. And the great thing is they're all speaking the same language because before you get a controlling contractor's information from their audits and their audit process is different than contractor a to contractor B to contractor C by some of them want to get real granular into the weeds while others just care about the general, the, the generality of the, of the issue, like as an owner, all we care about is if we're having issues with cranes, access, egress, working at Heights lockout, tagout, confined space, just the big general aspects is what we're looking at.
Thomas Barnard (08:44):
And that's how we propagated our, our inspection platform. Our checklist in there, we have general, we have some of it broken down a little bit granular because we have to, to be globally aligned. But for the most part, it's in alignment with all of our controlling contractors.
How are you seeing this help their participation in your safety program?
Georgia Bergers (09:01):
So fantastic. I, yeah, I'm glad to hear that. There's some flexibility across the, the different GCs. I think that would be yeah, a common, a common question that, that people would have. And I'd love to understand you, you spoke about heading out, you know, heading out to the job site and being able to spend time with the trades. How are you seeing this help their participation in your safety program?
Thomas Barnard (09:28):
Well, what it does is whenever I go visit a project that, that week I'm out, I'm at, I'm at, I'm at the same project, every three to, for five weeks. Right? So whenever I go out, I'm, I'm a director now I don't be honest, sorry, I'm not gonna go type up the report anymore. So the controlling contractors, they actually type up the reports. They manage any issues that we found and as well as safe observations, right positives, and they write up the report and we're able to manage it that way. I have my eyes on the ground with them. We're looking at things together. If we do have issues that we need to address, they're documented and we can follow up with them through the platform. That's one aspect. The other one is it, it it's creating awareness within our team of, you know, permits on site.
Thomas Barnard (10:19):
We have hot work going on data. We have confined space, okay, we've got a crane coming. So we, we, we, our expectation for cranes is we need the, the crane plan. If it's a, a normal pick under 70% of the crane, crane capacity, they get two, they get a week to upload it a week prior to the pick, right? If it's a, a critical pick that's two weeks prior, but, but we get visibility and transparency and clarity, and we can get with our insurance providers. That's another thing that we got, right. Which it's really not an issue for us cause we own the I company. But but it, you know, it shows that we're doing our due diligence as well with, with with compliance, whether that's locally federally country, whichever country that's in, because we have different compliance means in methods in Spain than we do in France.
Thomas Barnard (11:16):
Cause we got builds in Paris. We got in Madrid, we got builds in Dublin. We've got builds in Zurich. We've got builds in Athens Greece. We've got builds in Frank for Germany. We've got builds in Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney Kenya, India we're building up in Brazil now, real de we've got a build going on in Mexico city and then all over the us Toronto every major city in the us, we've got things there. So we can transparency see everything and make sure that we're align with that with, with the controlling entity, because in Canada you have the, the department of labor, right. Or you have the admin, sorry, the minister of labor in Canada here, you have the department of labor. But if you go over to Spain, there's even a, a more previous government entity there as well as France, you know? And, and we gotta make sure we're align with all that. And I'll tell you, the platform allows us to do that. It's like one global connection. So it's, it's really awesome.
Georgia Bergers (12:25):
Yeah. That's fantastic. Well, Thomas, I really appreciate your, your time. And I want to say have that very happy and safe safety week to you and the team at Digital Realty. And it was, yeah, we're really lucky to support you. So thanks so much for your time.
Thomas Barnard (12:41):
Absolutely. Thank you.