The OSHA general duty clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, requires that each employer furnish to each of its employees a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

Keep your workplace safe by creating a Stop Work Authority (SWA) program.

What is Stop Work Authority (SWA)?

Stop Work Authority is empowering workers to halt work when a perceived unsafe condition, behavior, or hazard arises. Basically, if something on the job site becomes too unsafe or hazardous, workers have an obligation to stop work while the hazard is corrected.

Are you working SAFER?

If a hazard presents itself, use the SAFER technique

Stop work

Asses the situation

File a report

Eradicate Hazard

Resume

  1. Stop work – When a worker perceives an unsafe condition, hazard, or behavior on the job site, they have an obligation to stop work or intervene on behalf of another person at risk.If the danger is immediate, stop work immediately and begin the SAFER sequence. If the danger is not immanent, report the hazard to a supervisor and make it clear that it is a SWA request.
  2. Asses the situation – stop work activities and make the area as safe as possible by recognizing the hazards, removing workers from the area, reporting the incident to a supervisor, and stabilizing the situation.
  3. File a report – Your company should have an official SWA authorization form. This helps record what actions were taken to mitigate the hazard to prevent future injuries. If the request is valid, a SWA authorization form will need to be filled out before resuming work.
  4. Eradicate the hazard – the unsafe conditions, hazards, or behaviors will be corrected according to the plans outlined in the SWA authorization form. The work areas that are affected will need to be inspected by a qualified professional to ensure that all hazards have been successfully resolved.
  5. Resume – once the hazards have been recorded, removed or corrected, and inspected, workers will be educated on what actions were taken and work should be then be resumed.

For supervisors:

Managers and supervisors will need to follow up on the report, using the information in the SWA form to prevent future hazards and ensuring that the same hazard does not happen again. Furthermore, management should outline all findings during the inspection to the rest of the management team so policies may be improved upon if necessary.

The SAFER technique keeps your workers safe while improving your organization’s efficiency at the same time. Proper recording and the reflecting of these incidents will help improve workflow for future events. It also keeps your company in line with OSHA standards.