Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert: Using Construction Technology to Ensure Safety

In our latest installment of Ask the Expert, brought to you by KPA, we hear from Taylor Thorn, Senior Product Director, KPA, about how safety technologies influence EHS professionals and their work.

Q: What’s your background?

I’ve spent the last 15 years in technology, focusing much of that time on the construction market. My first experience in construction tech was a very small startup focused on construction and project management. Our lofty goal was to design a cloud-based ERP for construction that could connect office and field staff. While we had high hopes and dreams, our two-person startup didn’t quite work out, so I ventured into the world of BIM and 3D modeling services for construction. While the work was fascinating, I quickly realized that my heart was in products and not services. In 2018, I started AnchoRock Solutions to build a mobile-first safety and compliance software tailored to the construction industry. 

At that time, there were a limited number of platforms offering safety and compliance software built specifically for the construction industry. I dove in headfirst and absorbed as much as I could from our earliest customers (safety directors at electrical and mechanical contractors) and became as familiar with safety as possible by listening and learning from real safety professionals. Our team at AnchoRock tackled many of the challenges facing construction safety management, and ultimately, our product was adopted by contractors big and small across the country. In 2023, AnchoRock was acquired by KPA. In my role with KPA, I focus on KPA Flex, our EHS software platform, and guide product strategy with a specific emphasis on construction safety. 

Q: How did you get your start in the field?

Early in my career in construction technology, I spent a lot of time speaking with contractors about process improvement within their organizations. My goal at the time was to identify areas of a typical construction firm that exhibited limitations, inefficiencies, and critical breakdowns. After many, many conversations, I quickly learned that there were significant pain points that existed within each contractor’s safety program. I spent a lot of time speaking to site safety coordinators, safety managers, and safety directors to better understand the breakdowns that were occurring in the current, traditional way (pen and paper mostly) of managing jobsite safety. It became incredibly clear there was a market need for a cloud-based platform that could improve how contractors ultimately manage safety and compliance within their organization. 

Q: How can company leaders make safety a value within their organization? 

I believe company leaders can make safety a value within their organizations by getting active engagement and participation in the safety program by all members of the organization. In construction, safety is often driven by the safety team and then executed at the jobsite by field leaders (foremen, superintendents, etc.). Taking that final step and getting all field personnel bought in on safety can sometimes be a challenge, but I’ve seen many firms successfully involve everyone in their safety programs. For example, a safety incentive program is fairly common, but including field-level staff in that program can have a big impact. Something as simple as putting a QR code out at the jobsite to encourage anonymous submission of “observations” or “good catches” or even a “safety suggestion box” can be a simple and effective way to get field-level participation in the safety program. 

Q: How will new safety technologies influence the work being done by EHS professionals?

Safety tech in the last decade has drastically influenced EHS professionals in terms of how they manage their safety programs. New safety technologies will continue to put a lot of emphasis on metrics, analytics, and effective slicing of safety data to provide trends, leading and lagging indicators, corrective actions, and the like. Looking forward, I believe consolidation of platforms will become more and more common as EHS professionals seek to streamline their operations and get to that ever-elusive “all-in-one” platform. Safety technology providers understand this desire for tech consolidation, so I am confident many providers will continue to bolster their offerings to attract EHS professionals. I am also seeing and hearing more requests for EHS platforms that can also assist with the management of third-party risk. With that, I believe contractor management solutions will become top of mind for EHS professionals across industries that deal with a large number of outside contractors.  

Q: What are you most proud of?

In my time at AnchoRock and now my time at KPA, the thing I am most proud of professionally is how our work developing a digital platform has had a clear impact on our clients and their workforce. When I hear from clients that our solutions have made their lives easier or that our solutions have educated their workforce more and thus made their workforces safe, that truly makes me proud of the work we do. At the end of the day, when we say we’ve built tools that help make safety programs more effective and, in turn, keep people safe, then I think we have something to be very proud of.

Taylor Thorn is an experienced construction technologist focused on safety and mobile applications. He was co-founder and CEO of AnchoRock, a construction safety software solution, which was acquired by KPA in 2023. Thorn now serves as the Senior Product Director at KPA, with a focus on construction technology. He has an in-depth understanding of the construction industry, with hands-on experience managing and building safety solutions for general, electrical, mechanical, steel, roofing, and solar contractors. Thorn is passionate about safety in construction, assisting contractors in digitizing their safety and compliance programs through user-friendly tools.

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