Episode 38 – Stop Work Authority (Short)


Toolbox Topic: Stop Work Authority

‘Stop work authority’ is something every organization should implement, and every employee should know how to use. In today’s episode, we will discuss what stop work authority is and give real-world examples of when to use it.


Definition of Stop Work Authority

‘Stop work authority" is the authority to halt unsafe work activities. It’s not just for managers and supervisors; everyone in the organization has the right to stop unsafe work activities if they see something that could cause injury or damage to property. In other words, If anyone recognizes an unsafe situation, all they have to do is say “STOP.” This is also known as an ‘authority to suspend work’ or ‘right to stop work order.’ It’s a vital part of your safety culture.


When to use Stop Work

A stop work order should be used when there is a risk of injury or death. Here are some real-world examples of when you should use stop-work authority and the actions that should follow.


A fellow employee is not wearing PPE, and he/she is about to use a grinder.Stop work and provide appropriate PPE.
As a driver, you arrive at a job site but are unsure where it would be safe to unload.Stop work, get out, and perform a 360 walk around.
A ladder is damaged, and you notice it has not been taken out of service or/and someone is about to use it.Stop work, notify the other employee, and immediately tag out of service.
An employee begins operating equipment and does not use a seatbelt or harness where required.Stop work and remind your co-worker that this has been the cause of worker fatalities.
An employee picks up a heavy item and begins lifting it with their back instead of their legs.Stop work and gently remind them that their legs are far stronger than their back and to always lift items using proper lifter techniques.
An employee moves equipment around a blind corner without a spotter.Stop work, and help your fellow employee out by acting as a spotter.
You notice an improperly secured load.Stop work and see if you can help. Only proceed once all are in agreement that the load is secure.


Pause here and ask co-workers for other examples and discuss the appropriate actions that should follow.



Stop Work Authority is the power to halt unsafe work activities when there is a risk to workers or the workplace. It is a way to ensure everyone’s safety. Remember, when you think, “I shouldn’t tell someone what to do.” “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. You have the authority now use it.


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