What Is a Red & Green Tag Safety System for Scaffolding?

Jeffrey Keysar

Construction workers use scaffolding as a temporary platform to stand on and perform work above ground level.

Scaffolding for working off the ground

Due to the intricate nature of its construction and the many parts needed for proper assembly, a three-colored tag system has been devised to notify bystanders and workers of the status of the scaffolding, thus maximizing safety and efficiency.


Due to the intricate design of scaffolding and the many individual parts needed for proper assembly, a tag system has been developed regarding the construction and modification of scaffolding that is widely recognized. It consists of three colored tags, and is described as follows:

• Green – This color tag signifies the scaffold is safe for its intended use.

• Yellow – A yellow tag placed on a scaffold indicates the scaffold was constructed in a manner outside the norm in order to meet specific work conditions or requirements. All attempts should be made to restore a yellow tag to a green tag as soon as is practicable.

• Red – This color tag indicates the scaffold is unfit for use.


Green tags are often placed on scaffolding after each section has been constructed and inspected. Yellow tags must list the nature of the modifications made to the scaffold, what preventive measures should be taken to diminish risk, and the name of the individual or representative responsible for modification of the scaffolding. Red tags placed on scaffolding shall state “DANGER – UNFIT FOR USE”, and the tag shall list the project number and name and date of the inspection, as well as the reason for the red tag (i.e., “erection in progress,” “dismantling in progress,” “repairs required.”)


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) currently has no rules in place requiring the use of scaffolding safety tags. However, OSHA is the agency charged with ensuring procedures exist for the proper erection, modification and dismantling of scaffolding.


Before placing the appropriate tag, a competent person must inspect the scaffolding. According to OSHA, a competent person means one who is able to recognize hazardous conditions or situations and has the authority to take corrective measures. Hazardous conditions include nearby power lines, unstable ground, or damaged scaffold parts.


To ensure the proper colored safety tags are always in place, it is generally accepted that competent persons should inspect scaffolding every seven days from erection until it is taken down, after any periods of wet weather or high winds which may have weakened the scaffolding, and after any modifications or additions.