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Stop Work Authority: Empowering our people to improve safety

Tony Rose, SHE Operational Excellence Manager


Ensuring EMR's operations are safe for all our customers and colleagues, while protecting the environments where we work, is the biggest priority on our sites, no matter how busy our teams may be.

As such, every EMR colleague has a significant role to play in maintaining our high health, safety and environmental protection standards.

One way we empower colleagues is through our Stop Work Authority policy. This enables any member of staff who believes something on site could be unsafe or potentially polluting, to stop our operations until the issue has been rectified.

These issues could be as simple as a contractor wearing incorrect personal protection equipment (PPE) – which can be dealt with in a matter of minutes – to a more serious problem with our equipment or processes that can take days or even weeks to put right.

At EMR, we will not restart operations until these issues are dealt with, no matter what impact it has on our bottom line.

The Stop Work Authority was introduced in 2019 because EMR recognises that some employees could feel reluctant to either report issues or intervene when they see somebody carrying out a task in an unsafe manner.

Successfully implementing the policy has therefore meant that we have to communicate two messages.

Firstly, our Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) team has spent time speaking to staff at all levels, making them aware that they will be fully supported by their managers for using the Stop Work Authority. This includes letting site managers know that they have the full support of the business if they or a member of their team feel that they should halt operations.

Secondly – and just as importantly – we have worked hard to ensure that those members of staff unknowingly doing something perceived as unsafe do not feel singled out if they are subject to a Stop Work Authority. Everybody has a different perception of risk so it is perfectly understandable that one member of staff will sometimes identify a potential hazard that another has not.

Creating a workplace where every person plays a part in protecting their colleagues is central to EMR’s goal of creating a strong safety culture and a high level of awareness when it comes to environmental protection.

Because we know this policy is a significant change for many, a certain amount of positive re-enforcement is also needed. So, when a colleague has made use of their Stop Work Authority, we record this event and share it as a positive lesson throughout the business.

The introduction of the Stop Work Authority policy is a cornerstone of our wider SHE Perfect Day campaign in which EMR strives for (and then recognises) days in which we all go home safely and the environment was not harmed.

While EMR works hard to build and maintain its reputation for customer service and producing market-leading products for a range of industries, the Stop Work Authority underlines the fact that, ultimately, it is the safety of our employees, contractors and customers which comes first.