This is the first article in a multi-part series in which Safety Reports co-founder Steve Polich talks about his career and the impact technology has had on workplace safety. We asked Steve how safety technology has impacted the construction industry, what’s changed, and where he believes it’s headed next.
Check out the all articles in this series:
Steve Polich co-founded Safety Reports, a mobile safety management solution provider acquired by ToolWatch in 2022.
Steve has been an innovator in the construction safety industry since the 1980s and continues to push safety technology forward in his ongoing role at ToolWatch.
He happened into his decades-long career in safety accidentally. As a college student, he worked in the warehouse of an Iowa-based chemical distributor during the school year and summer breaks.
When the company opened a branch in Kansas City in the late 1980s, Steve signed on as the operations manager for the new location overseeing the storage and delivery of chemicals to customers in the area.
Unbeknownst to Steve and his employer, several federal agencies – including OSHA, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation – had regional offices in the greater Kansas City area. The proximity of these regulatory agencies opened the door for more frequent interactions, including unannounced inspections.
An OSHA inspection resulted in citations for Steve’s employer, which opened the company’s eyes to the importance of complying with applicable regulations and focusing on workplace safety.
In response to this incident, Steve attended workshops on relevant safety topics to understand the regulations, how to train employees, how to perform and document inspections, and generally how to run a workplace safety program.
Armed with the basics of workplace safety, he began writing the safety programs for the Kansas branch, which were picked up and implemented by the rest of the company. Since Steve had no formal background or training in workplace safety, it was, as he describes it, a “baptism by fire.”
After a decade in Kansas City, Steve transitioned to a full-time career in safety when he took a job at the National Safety Council’s Omaha training center, where he was responsible for conducting training on various safety topics. Eventually, Steve was promoted to a director position, a job that proved to be less safety-focused and more managerial in nature. Wanting to get back to focusing on safety, Steve became a Certified Safety Professional (CSP).
Steve spent the next 13 years working with insurance companies on loss control. As a safety consultant, Steve learned the ins and outs of a variety of industries and their issues. He walked job sites, worked with client personnel to mitigate potential problems, and conducted training at client locations.
Steve’s life as a safety consultant consisted of frequent travel and nights, and weekends spent working on reports. One morning after traveling all week, he joined his sister and her husband, Chet Slump, for their weekly Saturday morning breakfast at a local coffee shop. During breakfast, the conversation turned to possible ideas for new apps.
They immediately thought of an app that would streamline report writing for safety inspections and the value it would generate in terms of time savings. At that moment, the idea of Safety Reports was born.
Steve spent the better half of a year laying the foundation for the Safety Reports software application. He created a comprehensive list of 400 questions to guide safety consultants through site walkthroughs and a database of current OSHA regulations and recommendations.
Steve and his co-founder Chet spent the next 11 years growing Safety Reports from an idea to an industry-leading app with more than 20 million observations logged! In 2022, Safety Reports was acquired by a Denver-based company, Toolwatch – a construction operations platform.
In particular, Steve plans to focus on customer engagement, product development, and strategy, helping to guide the continued evolution of the safety products and integration with the Toolwatch platform. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
With a background in construction safety and co-founder of Safety Reports with a mission to transform the OSHA inspection compliance process, Steve has been uniquely positioned to innovate how companies enact and facilitate their safety programs. Stayed tuned for the next post in this series of blogs to learn where Steve sees construction safety technology going next.
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