Scaffold tags: a primer

Scaffolding is a common sight in construction, and one of the most common workplace violations, according to citations from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
While OSHA has requirements for how scaffolding components must be erected, modified, dismantled and inspected, it currently doesn’t regulate how scaffolding should be marked after inspections or when unsafe conditions exist – such as when the scaffolding is under construction or has unsupported brackets.
This makes it all the more critical for contractors to adopt a system that protects workers and the public – and protects their company from liability.
A scaffold inspection tag system is considered a best practice among many companies, according to an Oregon OSHA guide for supported scaffolds. Scaffold tags allow the responsible company to track inspections – which should be performed “before each shift and after any incident that could affect a scaffold’s integrity,” according to OSHA regulations. Simple color-coding provides immediate recognition of the scaffold’s current condition, along with a dated explanation of the status:
Green – A green inspection tag is a form of “checking off” that a section of scaffolding has been inspected by the appropriate person and found to be properly construction, without damaged parts, instability or nearby hazards like power lines. It’s safe for its intended use and meets all OSHA standards.
Scaffold Self Laminating Tag
This green tag indicates a scaffold that’s ready to be used. From xpresstags.com.
Yellow – A yellow scaffold tag typically requires the most information. It’s placed on a scaffold to indicate that it has been modified in order to meet specific work conditions, and should state that it “does not meet federal/state OSHA specifications.” The person responsible for the alterations should list the modification (such as “midrail missing at deck level”), as well as the additional protective measures required (such as safety belts). Yellow tags are intended for short-term, temporary use.
Scaffold Self Laminating Tag
Yellow scaffold tags mean that (usually temporary) alterations have rendered
a scaffold unsafe for some but not necessarily all purposes.
Red – Bold red scaffold tags deliver the most important message of all: “WARNING – Do Not Use.” Tags that feature this alert should be used, and the person responsible for the inspection should list his or her name, the date and the reason for the unsafe conditions – such as “Erection in progress” or “Repairs required.”
Do Not Use Self Laminating Tag
A red tag on a scaffold means it’s unsafe, and shouldn’t be used under any circumstances.
Although the scaffold tags must be updated regularly and changed as needed, they also must be securely affixed – near the scaffold access point – and durable. Heavy vinyl tags with pull-proof grommets are an economical option for most situations. Self-laminating tags can be used, when needed, to protect the writing from smudging or fading, or a tamper-resistant tag holder can be used in non-secure environments.