STOP WORK AUTHORITY
Are you looking for a way to improve your company’s hazard identification efforts? Consider implementing stop work authority. Stop-work authority provides each individual the right, responsibility, and authority to stop work, without fear of retribution, if they believe working conditions are unsafe.
The stop work authority process should include steps that employees can be trained on and implement in the work environment. Consider these simple procedural steps:
1. Stop: Employee will stop work when they identify an unsafe condition or behavioral action that poses danger to person(s), equipment, or the environment.
2. Notify: Employees and supervision will notify affected employees and make the immediate area as safe as possible.
3. Analyze: Employees and supervision will analyze the unsafe condition or behavior and agree that work should be stopped.
4. Correct: Employees and supervision will correct the condition or behavior prior to restarting work.
5. Communicate: Supervision will communicate the stop work incident to others throughout the organization. This may involve employees and supervision completing a stop work authority incident form that outlines the hazards concerns, corrective actions, and lessons learned.
Training employees on the stop work authority’s purpose and the process is critical. Each person must understand that the stop work authority’s purpose is to protect each person, property, and the environment. They must understand that they are expected to stop work and that they can do so without retribution. Training should also review the company’s stop work policy, the process for reporting and addressing incidents, and how to identify hazards.
As with other similar programs, such as near miss reporting, stop work incidents should be encouraged and tracked. The goal is to increase participation in the safety process and identify hazardous conditions and behaviors throughout the work environment. Incidents should be communicated throughout the organization. Hazards present in one work environment or work area may exist in others as well. A successful process will require developing a program that includes a clear definition of the purpose, a policy/procedure for implementing the process, and employee training. Stop work authority leads to each employee taking responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others. This is the ultimate form of collaboration.
Gaddis, S. (2019, December 2). Stop Work Authority: A Principled-Based Approach. https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2019/12/02/Stop-Work-Authority-A_Principaled_Approach
Bush, J. (2018, July 26). Stop-Work Authority: Empowering Workers to Halt Unsafe Situations. https://safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/print/17242-stop-work-authority
Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, Inc. He has over 20 years of experience in safety at the corporate level and as a consultant. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Occupational Safety and Health Technician (OHST). Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org