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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
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can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

5S Red Tags

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Increase efficiency by red-tagging items you don’t need immediately. Store them or get rid of them.

Red tagging is part of “Sort”, one of the five elements of a Japanese system of streamlining manufacturing called 5S. The five elements of 5S are Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

If you’re eager to improve your work environment and increase productivity, start some safety housekeeping with 5S red tags.


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5S-red-tag-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Dan Clark: Hello there again, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

Let’s talk about the red tags. No, there is not a sale at Penny’s. Red tags are used as tools in 5S. It’s a system of organizing and maintaining order in the workplace.

Let’s dip our toes into 5S. This system started in Japan as a way to streamline manufacturing. It’s a tool used as part of Lean, and the 5S’s stand for:

1. Sort
2. Set In Order
3. Shine
4. Standardize
5. Sustain

5S-red_tag-Creative_Safety_Supply-2-200x2005S’s. The way to clean out and organize your facility. Now, the red tags are used during the #1 phase, the Sort phase, of 5S. So, you have a large site that’s really cluttered. You’ve got tripping hazards, workers are wasting time dancing around materials laying about, or searching for tools. So, when you begin sorting, before you start red tagging, make two or three piles. In pile #1, put all the things that you use all the time. You’ll put these back into place after you’re done sorting. In pile #2, these are the red tag items. These are the things that you never, or rarely, use.

Now, label these things with three pieces of information:

-The name of the person who put it in the pile.
-The name and description of the thing.
-And the date the tag was attached.

After about a month, look at all the tagged items. If you haven’t used them, think about getting rid of them. And that could be storing, recycling or actually throwing them in the trash. But if you’ve used them, put them back. If it’s a seasonal item, store it. You can also use a red tag chart to keep track of these questionable red tag items during that trial period.

While all this tagging is going on, don’t forget about the rest of your 5S organizing. You set the untagged items back in place—this is item #2, Set In Order in 5S—but make sure to leave room for any red tagged items that may come back to the high use area.

Item #3 in 5S is Shine, so you’ll want to clean all the equipment, supplies and work environment.

5S #4 is Standardize. That’s integrating the new layout into daily tasks, and let your workers know of this process.

And the 5th S is Sustain. Reinforce the new standards on a regular basis. You can’t just set it and forget it.

That’s all for this episode. I hope you’ve learned something about red tagging and 5S. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See their website at


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