The Harwood Safety Group

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"We got a stop work order - now what?!"

Verify, Clarify & Comply

Time is of the essence when your workplace is under a stop work order. Far reaching and expensive consequences often accompany such an order. Knowing when a stop work order can be issued and what follows from it can help to get your worksite back into operation ASAP.

Three questions to consider when you get a stop work order:

1. Should the stop work order have been issued?

2. Did the officer properly issue and deliver the order?

3. What needs to be done to comply with the order?

WorkSafeBC officers have the authority to issue stop work and stop use orders. A stop use order is issued when equipment or machinery is found to be unsafe. In contrast, a stop work order shuts down a whole workplace or part of a worksite. It is often issued after an accident while an initial investigation is underway.

It's important to know:

  • for a stop work order to be issued there must have been reasonable grounds for believing there was a high risk of serious injury, serious illness or death to a worker at the workplace

  • the officer must provide the order to you in writing - this will be done an Inspection Report

  • the officer must serve the written order on the employer, supervisor or another person having apparent supervision of the workplace

  • the order continues until the officer cancels it

  • if the order continues past 72 hours, WorkSafeBC Vice President of Prevention must review it and confirm it in writing

  • In some cases, a stop work order may also be issued on your other worksites if a similar hazardous situation exists at those locations as well

Practical Advice:

On the Inspection Report issuing the stop work order, the officer should give you clear indication about what you are required to do to have the order cancelled - i.e. how to come into compliance. Being clear about what the officer's expectations are about compliance is key to avoiding wasted time and resources. Ask questions to clarify and seek further advice if you need to.

Document the steps and actions you take as the officer will want a written compliance report about your follow-up to the order. Once the officer is satisfied with your compliance report they should immediately cancel the order and your workplace can return to full operation.


1. Should the stop work order have been issued? There must be high risk of serious injury, illness or death to a worker

2. Was the order properly issued and delivered? It must be in writing (on an Inspection Report) and delivered to the employer/ supervisor, and reviewed and confirmed after 72 hours

3. What needs to done to comply with the order in order to have it cancelled? Seek clarity, and written confirmation on the Inspection Report, about what needs to be done to be in compliance so the stop work order will cancelled

If you think that a stop work order should not have been issued, was improperly issued, or has not been cancelled after you are in compliance, you should immediately seek help to have the order rescinded or cancelled. Contact The Harwood Safety Group for more information.

This publication is not intended to constitute legal advice. No one should act on it or refrain from acting on it without consulting with a lawyer. The Harwood Safety Group does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy or currency or completeness of the publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior written permission of The Harwood Safety Group.

#Worksafe #Stopworkorder #Stopuse #Stopwork #Orders

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