A stop work program formally establishes the Stop Work Authority (SWA) of all employees to suspend individual tasks or group operations when the control of HSE risk is not clearly established or understood.

A stop work authority policy/program should provide the following:

  • All employees have the authority and obligation to stop any task or operation where concerns or questions exist regarding the control of HSE risk,
  • No work will resume until all stop work issues and concerns have been adequately addressed, and
  • Any form of retribution or intimidation directed at any individual or company for exercising their authority as outlined in this program will not be tolerated.


 Persons in the following roles have responsibilities in support of this program:

  • All employees have the authority and obligation to stop any task or operation where concerns or questions regarding the control of HSE risk exist. Also, it is important that all employees support the intervention of others and properly report all stop work actions.
  • Line Supervisors are responsible to create a culture where SWA is exercised freely, honor request for stop work, to resolve issues before operations resume, recognize proactive participation and ensure that all stop work actions are properly reported with required follow-up report completed.
  • Management must establish a clear expectation to exercise SWA, create a culture where SWA is exercised freely, resolve SWA conflicts when they arise and hold those accountable that choose not to comply with established SWA policies.
  • HSE in support of operations is responsible for monitoring compliance with the requirements of this program, maintenance of associated documents, processes and training materials, identification of trends, sharing of learnings and publication of required scorecards.

 In general terms, the SWA process involves a stop, notify, investigate, correct and resume approach for the resolution of a perceived unsafe work action(s) or condition(s).

Much like behavior-based safety processes, a workforce that clearly understands how to initiate, receive and respond to a stop work intervention is more likely to participate. Though obvious to some, the following procedures create an environment where people know how to act and respond. Though situations may differ, the following steps should be the framework for all stop work interventions.


  1. When a person identifies a perceived unsafe condition, act, error, omission, or lack of understanding that could result in an undesirable event, a stop work intervention shall be immediately initiated with the person(s) potentially at risk.
  2. If the supervisor is readily available and the affected person(s) are not in immediate risk, the “stop work action” should be coordinated through the supervisor. If the supervisor is not readily available or the affected person(s) are in immediate risk, the “stop work” intervention should be initiated directly with those at risk.
  3. Stop work interventions should be initiated in a positive manner by briefly introducing yourself and starting a conversation with the phrase “I am using my stop work authority because…”. Using this phrase will clarify the user’s intent and set expectations as detailed in this procedure.
  4. Notify all affected personnel and supervision of the stop work issue. If necessary, stop associated work activities, remove person(s) from the area, stabilize the situation and make the area as safe as possible.
  5. All parties shall discuss and gain agreement on the stop work issue.
  6. If determined and agreed that the task or operation is OK to proceed as is (i.e., the stop work initiator was unaware of certain facts or procedures) the affected persons should thank the initiator for their concern and proceed with the work.
  7. If determined and agreed that the stop work issue is valid, then every attempt should be made to investigate and resolve the issue to all affected person’s satisfaction prior to the commencement of work and no work shall resume until all stop work issues and concerns have been adequately addressed.
  8. If the stop work issue cannot be resolved immediately, work shall be suspended until proper resolution is achieved. When opinions differ regarding the validity of the stop work issue or adequacy of the resolution actions, the location’s “person in charge” shall make the final determination. Details regarding differences of opinions and resolution actions should be included in the documented report.
  9. Positive feedback should be given to all affected employees regarding resolution of the stop work issue. Any form of retribution or intimidation directed at any individual or company for exercising their right to issue a stop work authority will not be tolerated at the host facility. Under no circumstances should retribution be directed at any person(s) who exercise in good faith their stop work authority as detailed in this program.
  10. All stop work interventions and associated detail shall be documented and reported as detailed in this program for lessons learned and corrective measures to be put into place.


All stop work interventions exercised under the authority of this program shall be documented utilizing established reporting protocols (i.e. near miss, BBS report forms or SWA specific reporting forms).

Stop Work reports shall be reviewed by line supervision to:

  • Measure participation
  • Determine quality of interventions and follow-up
  • Trend common issues and identify opportunities for improvement
  • Facilitate sharing of learnings
  • Feed recognition programs

HSE professionals should regularly publish incident details regarding the number of stop work actions reported by location as well as details regarding common trends and learnings.


It is the desired outcome of any stop work intervention that the identified safety concerns be addressed to the satisfaction of all involved persons prior to the resumption of work. Although most issues can be adequately resolved in a timely fashion at the job site, occasionally additional investigation and corrective actions may be required to identify and address root causes. Stop Work interventions that require additional investigation or follow-up should be handled utilizing existing procedures for incident investigation and follow-up.


Employees are responsible for initiating a Stop Work Intervention when warranted and management is responsible to create a culture where Stop Work Authority is exercised freely. To build and reinforce a culture in which SWA is conducted properly, line supervisors are encouraged to positively recognize employee participation in the program.

At a minimum, each line supervisor should informally recognize individuals when they exercise their authority to stop work or demonstrate constructive participation in our stop work intervention program. This informal recognition need be no more than an expression of appreciation for a job well done.

Additionally, formal recognition of selected examples of stop work interventions and those responsible should be made during regularly scheduled safety meetings.

Companies should regularly publish selected stop work actions that occur by recognizing those responsible for the SWA program and their contribution to HSE continuous improvement.


Training regarding the SWA program should be conducted as part of all new employee orientations. Employees must receive Stop Work Authority training before initial assignment. Additionally, a review of the SWA Policy should be completed as part of all field location JSA safety briefings and regularly in safety meetings.