Stop Work Authority (SWA)

Safety Moment

What is Stop Work Authority?

Executing your Stop Work Authority to right safety wrongs and catch potential unsafe action before it actually happens is not only responsible, it's also effective.

If you're working and you see something that you deem unsafe, or if you notice at-risk behaviour going on, take the initiative and stop work. Sometimes the most important work you can do is to STOP WORKING. 

Stop Work Authority (SWA) provides employees and contract workers with the responsibility and obligation to stop work when a perceived unsafe condition or behaviour may result in an unwanted event. Performing a Stop Work Authority to correct safety hazards and halt potential unsafe actions before they happen is not only responsible, but also effective. In the oil and gas industry in recent years, it's been one of the most successful approaches to safety. 

How is Stop Work Authority used or implemented?

Stop Work Authority is comprised of a six-step process:

  1. Stop - When you or a colleague perceive condition(s) or behaviour(s) that pose imminent danger to person(s), equipment, or the environment, they must immediately initiate a stop work intervention with the person(s) potentially at risk.
  2. Notify - Notify affected personnel and supervision of the stop work action.
  3. Investigate - Affected personnel will discuss the situation and come to an agreement on the stop work action.
  4. Correct - The affected area(s) will then be inspected by qualified experts to verify completeness of the modifications and verify all safety issues have been properly resolved.
  5. Resume - All affected personnel will be notified of what corrective actions were implemented and the affected area(s) will be reopened for work by personnel with restart authority.
  6. Follow-up - The Safety Manager will publish the incident details regarding the stop work action to all Operations Managers and employees, outlining the issue, corrective action, and lessons learned.
Stop Work Authority six-step process

When should I implement my Stop Work Authority?

Stop Work Authority should be initiated for conditions or behaviours that threaten danger or imminent danger to person(s), equipment or the environment. Situations that warrant a Stop Work Authority may include, but are not limited to the following:

STOP sign
  • Change in conditions
  • Changes to scope of work or work plan
  • Emergency situation
  • Equipment used improperly
  • Lack of knowledge, understanding or information
  • Near-miss incident
  • Unsafe conditions
  • Alarms

If you're working and you see a process that is not being followed correctly, or if you notice at-risk behaviour going on, take the initiative and call a quick time-out. Then confer with your workmates to make sure everyone knows the safe way to continue. Examples of behaviours that threaten imminent danger include working at heights without fall protection, performing hot work near ignitable materials, LOTO violations, standing under a lifted load, etc. It is your duty and right to exercise Stop Work Authority. Do not assume that someone else is going to take care of it: See it, Own it, STOP!

Remember, when you think, "I shouldn't tell someone what to do," or "I'm sure they know what they're doing, who am I to tell them to stop?" You could be saving their life by speaking up and using your Stop Work Authority.

If someone tells you to stop work, you need to stop the job immediately. Remember, your co-workers are trying to keep you safe, not punish you.

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