Stop Work Authority Policy

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Being able to effectively communicate is one of the most important skills that successful people possess. It’s why it is no surprise that it is also the foundation for a great safety culture. Effective communication requires both the sender of the information and the receiver to become actively engaged in what is being discussed. 

So how can you help encourage effective communication within your team while improving your safety culture? 

Implement a Stop Work Authority policy. 

A Stop Work Authority policy is a procedure that gives everyone on the jobsite the authority to stop the work being conducted due to an unsafe act or new unforeseen condition that has developed without fear of punishment or retaliation for stopping the work. Obviously, if everyone is empowered to be able to speak up and prevent a dangerous situation from getting worse, everyone on the team wins. However, implementing a Stop Work Authority policy does take some strategic moves to ensure it is successful.  

  1. Develop a Clear Policy – Create a written policy outlining the purpose of the policy, what circumstances under which employees are authorized to stop work and how they can stop the work being done. This does not have to be a lengthy section in your safety manual, but it should be in writing so that management can stress the importance of it and everyone can be trained on it.
  2. Communication – Ironically, when trying to improve communication and better the safety culture within your team, many tree care companies fail at properly communicating a Stop Work Authority policy to their team. Actually train all of your team members on your policy. Ensure they understand their responsibility to stop work if they identify any potential hazards or unsafe conditions and that they will not get in trouble when they do speak up. 
  3. Documentation – To further the impact of a stopped job across your organization, implement a process for documenting stop work incidents, including the reason for the stoppage, actions taken to address the issue, and any follow-up measures. Discuss this report at your next safety meeting so everyone in your organization can learn from it.
  4. Review & Refresh – Take time at least once per year to review and refresh the Stop Work Authority policy to ensure it remains effective as your company grows and evolves. Again, this doesn’t have to be a lengthy policy, but the impact that it has on your safety culture is immense, so make sure you are focusing on this fairly regularly.

Implementing a Stop Work Authority Policy within your tree care company will help improve communication within your team and more importantly, help avoid serious accidents from happening. If you are struggling with improving your safety culture or just are not sure if you’re doing everything that you can to get every employee home safe each night, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today to get started with our Thrive Safety Package today.