The Power of “Stop Work Authority”


By Kory Judd, Richmond Refinery General Manager,

From the first moment a new employee or contractor starts work at the Richmond Refinery – and every single day after – Chevron stresses safety. Our workers not only carry a badge authorizing access within the facility, but also a Stop Work Authority pocket card.

While the latter card won’t open any doors, it has a much greater power. At Chevron, two important rules help guide all of our decisions and actions:

  • Do it safely or not at all
  • There’s always time to do it right

The Stop Work Authority pocket card encourages and enables every single worker at the refinery, regardless of rank or expertise, to stop any work if they believe that it is not being done safely. In other workplaces, it may be unusual for a company to encourage employees to stop or pause work. But at the refinery, empowering our workers in this way demonstrates the commitment we have made to an ingrained culture of safety.

stop work authority

All refinery workers must respect an exercise of Stop Work Authority when someone raises a safety concern. It has the full backing of the Richmond Refinery Management Team, and the pocket card issued to employees and contractors includes my signature. Employees are both encouraged and celebrated when they use their Stop Work Authority.

After the work is stopped or paused, a conversation about the concern follows. Next, the person in charge of the work is notified, and we involve the right people in reviewing the situation, sometimes even technical experts who can offer the best knowledge about the situation.

The Stop Work Authority process does not end after a solution is identified. At Chevron, we review the circumstances giving rise to the stop or pause work authority in order to help prevent similar issues in the future. By sharing the lessons learned, we can help keep employees and contractors safe today and tomorrow.

If there’s one thing that draws us all together, it is safety. Safety is our #1 priority. Working Incident- and Injury-Free is a core Chevron principle. Incident- and Injury-Free means creating a safety culture in which workers look out for one another and make the right safety decisions each and every day. We want our employees and contractors to go home in the same condition as they came to work…or better.

As part of our continual improvement process, Chevron has conducted surveys, audits, and other feedback mechanisms, which have repeatedly shown that employees and contractors feel supported in their use of Stop Work Authority and credit Chevron’s strong safety culture. In a 2013 survey, for example, 93 percent of the survey participants responded favorably when asked whether employees feel free to use Stop/Pause Work Authority.

We would stack up our safety culture against any similar company. It is what we are most proud of, and it is what our workers and neighbors deserve. We recognize there is always room for improvement, and we are going to continue to identify ways to enhance safety here at the refinery.