Understanding Stop-work Authority

It’s everyone’s responsibility to detect workplace hazards and prevent accidents. As such, a stop-work authority (SWA) program is intended to encourage employees like you to keep an eye out for potential occupational safety hazards. Under an SWA program, you and your co-workers have an obligation to stop working upon recognizing a perceived unsafe behavior or condition in the workplace. From there, all employees must halt work processes until the problem has been corrected. You should know from initial and ongoing training how to recognize unsafe work behaviors and conditions, including the following:

  • Violations of OSHA standards or organizational safety policies
  • Inadequate or lack of training, including the need for remedial and ongoing instruction
  • Damaged or improperly used equipment
  • Fire hazards
  • Fall hazards
  • Near-miss incidents

It’s important to understand that there will be no punishment for reporting unsafe work conditions. Anyone has the ability to question the safety of another person’s actions in the workplace, regardless of seniority or discipline. For more information on SWA protocols, consult your supervisor.

Selecting Safe Footwear

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial when it comes to preventing injuries and ensuring your health and safety on the job site. One often overlooked type of PPE is safety footwear, which is designed to protect your feet from common job site hazards. Depending on the job activity and equipment you use, the following exposures could lead to serious foot injuries:

  • Sharp or heavy objects
  • Corrosive materials
  • Electrical hazards
  • Hot or slippery surfaces

While you may think that an average pair of boots is all you need to avoid foot injuries on the job, there are a number of different hazards that a regular work boot may not protect against. Several factors determine what type of footwear is appropriate for you, including the potential hazards you’re exposed to, the machinery you use and the requirements of your position. What’s more, there are different types of safety boots, each designed to mitigate specific workplace hazards. Here are the most common kinds of protective footwear:

  • Steel-toe, reinforced safety-toe or reinforced toecap boots protect against crushing injuries caused by falling or dropped objects. For extra protection, metatarsal guards can be used to safeguard the bones between your toes and ankle.
  • Puncture-resistant boots are typically reinforced with metal and are designed to prevent injury should you step on a nail, screw or other sharp object.
  • Metal-free boots are nonconductive and protect against electrocution risks. In general, these types of boots can provide protection for up to 600 volts of electricity in dry environments. However, moisture and wear on boots can impact the effectiveness of these kinds of safety protection around electricity. With this in mind, it’s best to follow all applicable safe work procedures and wear metal-free footwear alongside other nonconductive PPE.
  • Slip-resistant boots have a specialized sole that can reduce slip, trip and fall risks. Nonslip soles are especially valuable in work environments where cords, materials and other items may increase trip hazards.
  • Insulated boots protect your feet against extreme temperatures, including specific options for both hot and cold environments. Furthermore, risks related to chemical burns require specially treated boots.

Regardless of the type of safety boots you use, it’s important to ensure they fit properly and are well maintained. Safety boots should be inspected before each use for signs of wear. If a boot is cracked or shows other signs of damage, replace it immediately. For any questions regarding safety boots, speak with your supervisor.