Right to stop work : E Light Safety, Training and Leadership Blog
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Thank you,

Ted "Smitty" Smith
Director of Safety
E Light Electric Services, Inc.
(303) 754-0001

Right to stop work

by Ted Smith on 10/18/17

By Marshal Redlin- Regional Safety Manger- E Light. 

Creating a culture on the jobsite where employees feel comfortable stopping work is crucial to maintaining a safe and productive jobsite. Employees should be encouraged to stop work any time there is an unsafe condition discovered or an unsafe act observed. Employees are not always aware that they have the authority to stop work. An effective stop work authority program starts with management. Management personnel need to train their employees to recognize unsafe acts or conditions and promote a culture where stopping work is freely exercised. Employees need to know that they will not be retaliated against for stopping work due to unsafe acts or conditions.

When an unsafe act or condition is observed the following steps should be taken:

  1. STOP work
  2. Notify supervision of the unsafe act or condition.
  3. The unsafe act or condition should be investigated.
  4. Correct the unsafe act or condition before resuming work.

After these steps have been taken, and affected employees have been made aware of the changes made to mitigate the unsafe act or condition, work can be resumed. Supervision and/or safety staff on site should follow up and identify any opportunities for improvement.

Whenever there is a stop work action, there shall be a report generated on the action. Stop work actions should be tracked which will help in evaluating the effectiveness of the program.

By Ted Smith

We recently experienced a situation on a project where an employee suffered a minor heat related illness. The employee began to feel the symptoms of heat illness during the work day and reported the effects to their supervisor and then returned to work after resting for a short period. Fortunately there were no serious consequences to this issue but we could have had serious consequences. At orientation we stress that every employee of E Light Electric Services has not only the authority but the responsibility to stop work if they believe the situation is unsafe. This applies to everyone and everything, including heat related illnesses. Please discuss this with your crews on a daily basis. Let them know that it is our expectation that they speak up when they feel something is unsafe or if they are uncomfortable with a situation. Discuss it with their supervisor and find a resolution. Make sure that they understand there will be no consequences for doing so and make sure that they and the supervisory staff understand that we need everyone's input, feedback, and questions in order for us to be the best.

Please add comments and suggestions on how we can better manage and communicate this message and culture.

Thank you,

From Adam Richmond- Safety Manager- E Light ELectric

Understanding Stop Work Authority (Level 1 and Level 2)

Level 1: Immediate Correction
• This is a situation where an employee observes someone doing something unsafe and asks them to change that behavior to prevent injury to themselves or another employee.
o Example: A person not wearing their safety glasses when using a power drill. If you see this you should remind them of the need to wear safety glasses. The person with the drill should put on their glasses and the concern ends. You've made the site a safer place and possibly prevented somebody from losing an eye.
This should be documented on your Pre Task Plan Card as a near miss.
• If the unsafe condition or action can be corrected immediately, there is no need for further action.

Level 2: Delayed Correction
• The second level of Stop Work Authority occurs when the safety concern cannot be immediately corrected, and the work needs to stop until an acceptable fix can be put into place.
o Example: An example might be where an employee is spotted climbing onto a piece of equipment from which they could fall. If you see this and tell the employee your concern, and the employee says, "I'll just go get an aerial lift so that I can reach it safely," then you are back at the first level of Stop Work Authority. But if neither you nor the employee knows an immediate fix, you are at the second level. Perhaps the employee would need scaffolding, fall protection equipment or an aerial lift. Additional training might be required.
If the solution is not apparent right away, the job must be stopped and E Light Safety must be IMMEDIATELY notified.
• The job cannot be restarted until a safe method of performing the work has been found, and E Light Safety authorizes the work to continue.
• This level of Stop Work Authority should be used when needed when a quick fix cannot immediately abate the hazard. These are the times when deliberate investigation into a solution is required.
• Employees should be encouraged to keep in mind that the person who stopped the unsafe work is trying to help them.
• Supervision should be immediately contacted to let them know the concern so that a solution can be found as soon as possible.
• The supervisor should also notify E Light Safety right away so that they can help you find a solution and get the employees back to work quickly.

Reply from Marshal Redlin

It has been my experience that employees don't have a problem reporting an unsafe condition when it is a severe one. What is lacking is the reporting of and recognition of the seemingly less significant acts. For example, it is E Lights policy that personnel do not jump into or over trenches. This is something that doesn't seem as significant as walking underneath a suspended load, however the results could have similar consequences in the worst case scenarios. Nails sticking out of pallets are something that is constantly missed. As we have learned, this is a serious hazard that is looked past by almost every employee who walks by. I think putting emphasis on these seemingly less significant unsafe acts or conditions would improve the safety culture on any jobsite.

The question remains; how do we get employees to adopt this mindset?

E Light provides training, and discusses these items constantly through tailgate meetings and weekly safety meetings. We have a great program that makes reporting very efficient and simple. What if we put an incentive program together that goes along reporting of unsafe acts or conditions, or even a job well done. At the Decatur project we had a weekly drawing. A $20.00 gift card was given out to one individual who had reported a near miss, and/or an unsafe act or condition. The first week only a couple cards were turned in with the near miss section filled out. This was a huge improvement from prior weeks where there was nothing being reported. By the third week there would be at least 10 cards turned in that had legitimate information about what is going on in the field and how it can be improved. This trend continued through the end of the project. Not only were employees reporting things because there was an incentive behind it, they were actively improving their own safety and the safety of others on the jobsite. I also found that more employees were approaching me to verbally let me know about conditions in the field. This was a sign that employees were not only more comfortable in reporting these conditions, but they were also paying more attention to their work environment and correcting issues without thinking twice.

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E Light Electric Services, Inc.
Excellence in Electrical
361 Inverness Drive South, Suite B, Englewood, CO 80112 
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