It seems one of the biggest issues that come up when doing safety observations in the field is that management does not care or that the workers do not trust the management. We can learn a few things from doing safety observation if they are done for the right reasons.
Should we look at what we call them. Does it need to be called a safety observation or a safety walk around. Why can they not be called just a discussion. This discussion then can focus on building relationship of a friendship. Showing them care by asking simple question about hobbies or families, etc.
One of the biggest hurdles it seems that we come across when doing these observations, is trust. Part of the focus that should be looked at is how to gain that trust in the field. Showing genuine care will start the path to building this trust. Take the time out to speak to the tradesman in the field and ask some of these question that he has an interest in. Start the conversation out with a positive beginning. Try and keep it positive always. It seems humans react different when talking about positive vs negative things. Start the conversation on an upbeat by what is being done well.
Take the time to talk to the tradesmen of just general everyday things. If you ask them how they are doing do it for a genuine reason. Pay attention to what they are saying. Let them talk after all you asked. There may be something bothering them that could be job or of the job related. Listen to them. Listen, listen, listen.
When going out to have some discussion a lot a time to do this, the same as we a lot time for other meetings. We are all busy, but it is important to not be interrupted in the discussion. Unless it is an emergency then it can wait a few minutes. When we are in a meeting with the client, we a lot time, we turn our phones to silent. The meeting you have with the tradesman is just as important as any other meeting so give it the time.
If the company shows care for the employee there is a good chance the employee will show care to the company.
Here are just a couple of examples that may be able to help build the trust and work at changing the culture. After all it is the culture change that is wanted.