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Stop Work Order Froms: How Does It Work

Find out how to use a stop work order form to ensure construction site safety and reduce the negative consequences of contract breaches. Learn your rights and determine how you can put a swift end to a cease operations with Lumiform's free, digital checklists!

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What is a Stop Work Order Form?


A stop work order form (SWO) is a legal tool you can use to temporarily shut down ongoing work on a site until the issue is resolved. Government contracts typically have provisions for stop work orders, but it is also often included in private contracts.



In this article, the following points are explained:


1. Construction stop work order


2. Lifting a stop work order


3. A digital solution to a stop work order form


Employees reviewing a stop work order document

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What is a Stop Work Order in Construction?


A SWO for a construction site can be given if something in your project deviates from the contract’s requirements. Another reason for the issuance of a SWO is if your project violates the health code or because of subcontractor payment issues. Whatever the reason for the SWO, it must be taken seriously and resolved right away.


A construction project must shut down the areas specified when a stop work order is issued. The project owner must work to resolve the issue and arrive at an agreement with the other parties involved.


In accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.242–15, the government may issue an SWO that could last a maximum of 90 days. They can do so without the contractor's agreement.


However, if you are forced to stop work due to the actions or inactions of the government, this can be considered a "constructive suspension." You can invoke the stop work order clause and exercise your rights to protect your project.


A stop work order example always includes the following necessary information:


  • Description of all activities covered by the SWO
  • Clear instructions about pending permits, material orders, services, and scope
  • Instructions on subcontract management, including recommendations about overhead and general condition of items, if applicable

It is required that you discuss the stop-work order with the issuing party. In case of modifications to the SWO, the issuing must address the following items before the order expires:


  • How to proceed with the termination of the contract, if needed
  • How to modify the SWO
  • How to cancel the SWO when applicable
  • Who decides when and where the SWO shall be canceled or extended
  • Requirements needed for extension of the order
  • Agreements that must take place before the order is cancelled and the project continues

A stop work order form may either be for a full or a partial order. Whether you need to cease operations or not will depend on the reason for the issuance of the SWO.


A full Stop Work Order form means you must shut down the entire jobsite. All the workers on the site must stop what they are doing immediately. Some of the possible reasons for a full Stop Work Order are:


  • Issues with the engineering and design of the construction project
  • Financial concerns
  • Egregious safety violations
  • Environmental issues
  • Threats to the safety of the public and surrounding communities
  • Production issues
  • Any other issue that requires the suspension of work

When a full stop work order is issued, you will need to bring the project to a halt until you can remedy the issues cited in the stop work order form.


Whether the SWO is full or partial, the only activities you will be able to perform at the site are remedial work. This is to allow you to address the issue raised in the SWO. All other kinds of work must stop immediately.


A stop work order form can arrive at any time. It may be issued by the government, contractor, site manager, developer, or project owner. It is issued to guarantee the safety and compliance of all parties involved. Its main goal is to reduce the possibility of injury by making sure the work environment is healthy and hazard-free. For this reason, an SWO may be used to end a project that violates the health code and puts the workers in danger.


When a contract has an SWO clause, an inspector can pay a surprise visit and inspect the construction site. You can be issued civic penalties if you don’t resolve the issues found during the inspection. Violations related to building permits and contractor licensing could also be possible causes of an SWO.


Whether federal, state, or private, the construction project must have a contract that outlines the provisions of an SWO. It is a legal tool that can be used to settle disputes about payments, production issues, and engineering changes.



How to Lift a Stop Work Order?


When a stop work order is issued, work stops on a job site. Everyone on the job will be affected by project and payment delays. Whoever is responsible for resolving the issues must do all they can to lift the order as soon as possible.


These are the steps you can take to lift a stop work order:


1. Correct the Violations


The first step you can take to lift the SWO is to resolve the issue. Handle it immediately if you are responsible for the problem. If a subcontractor caused the problem, work with them to fix it.


The first step in having an SWO lifted is to correct the issue. If you caused the issue, handle it immediately. If your subcontractor caused the issue, make sure they fix it. Hold them accountable and ask them for a refund if needed. Requesting a change order, if applicable, would be in your best interest if you are going to handle a subcontractor’s mess.


If the SWO is brought by non-compliance to a code, there’s nothing you can do but redo the work. It is expensive, but it is how you can properly handle the issue.


2. Request Re-Inspection From the Issuing Agency


Request for a re-inspection once you have fixed the problem. Only after receiving the request can the issuing agency work towards lifting the SWO. Make an appointment with them and cooperate as they inspect the site once again.


3. Pay the Fees


Depending on the cause of the SWO issuance, you might need to pay some fines and penalties. You will need to do this once the inspector validates the corrections done. In some cases, a hearing will be necessary to set the appropriate fines and penalties.


4. Document the Process


A crucial part of lifting an SWO is documenting the process. Documents can serve as your protection and a tool for effective communication. Maintain a proper written record of all the costs and steps you take to comply with the stop work order. It can also prove useful for reimbursement purposes.



Construction workers receiving a stop work form

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How can a Digital Solution Help You Stop a Stop Work Order?


There’s nothing worse than getting that dreaded letter in the mail. After months of careful planning, you have to stop construction. It was shut down for one reason or another. Maybe it was a safety concern for your workers. Or perhaps there was a delay in payment. Whatever the reason, the realities are quickly setting in. You don’t work, you don’t get paid, and that means employees and contractors alike are quitting left and right. You’re in a panic. You don’t know what to do. Millions of dollars are tied up in this project, and you have to stick to the strict deadline or you might lose the contract you have lined up after this.


But don’t worry, operations will commence again shortly because you have Lumiform on your side. With the super intuitive mobile app and checklists, you can go down the list and solve problems one by one until your business is back up and running. Below are a few more additional benefits:


  • Comply with Regulations—By using a checklist, you know exactly which regulations you have to comply with. It’s all there, typed up, and ready for your use.
  • Protect your Reputation—Make sure all your inspections are carried out on time and as accurately as possible. A digital checklist leaves no room for error.
  • Avoid Costly Damages—With Lumiform’s EHS software, you can identify potential operation-halting risks to the job site before they become a problem by conducting regular inspections.
  • Easier Communication—The mobile app facilitates inter-team communication, so you can put a stop to the stop order as quickly as possible. Update team members about workplace hazards immediately, and notify them when they’ve been corrected.



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