How To Develop Trust in OHS

Developing trust in OHS

By the late George Robotham

Having worked in industrially volatile environments I have seen trust breakdown between management and workers. Sometimes it has been for no real reasons and people were working on perceptions. Without trust it is impossible to have an efficient operation.

Introducing OHS change inevitably upsets the established order in organizations and forces people to question their existing role in the organization. Often people will be asked to do something that is different from the norm and to do that which they do not agree with. Persons introducing and leading OHS change must ensure they are trusted by those they are seeking to join them in the OHS change journey. Appropriate self-disclosure is an excellent technique for building relationships.

If people do not trust those leading safety change there will never be wholehearted adoption of the leaders approach .People may agree to the leaders face but do little to advance the leaders ideas, innovative ways to sabotage the leader quite often occur in a climate of minimum trust.

Trust is essential for a relationship to grow and develop. In order to build a relationship you must learn to create a climate of trust that reduces your own and the other person’s fears of betrayal and rejection and promotes the hope of acceptance, support and confirmation. There is a risk involved in trusting.

In order to build a relationship, two people must build mutual trust. This is done during a commitment period in which they risk themselves either by disclosing more and more of their thoughts, feelings and reactions to immediate situations and to each other, or by expressing acceptance, support and cooperativeness toward each other. If, when disclosing they do not get the acceptance they need, they may back off from the relationship. If they are accepted, they will continue to risk self-disclosure and continue to develop the relationship. As both people continue to trust and be self-disclosing, the relationship continues to grow.(Refer to People Skills by Bolton, this is suggested as a must read for those involved in OHS Change)

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