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    December 2012

    National Standard to Prevent Bleacher Injuries

    image: sports bleachers

    From gowned graduates at commencement to raucous crowds at sporting competitions, "the stands" tend to be standard on American campuses, bearing silent witness to many important occasions. Some gatherings are marred, however, by bleacher-related accidents. Thousands of people go to emergency rooms every year suffering concussions, skull fractures, and knee and back injuries sustained from slips, falls, or accidents involving bleachers. 

    The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) last year approved minimum safety requirements that address what the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says are some of the leading causes of bleacher injury: spectators falling through or off tiered seating, slipping or tripping, and bleachers collapsing or blowing over.

    The voluntary Standard for Bleachers, Folding and Telescopic Seating, and Grandstands, intended to influence state and local building and fire codes, was developed by the International Code Council (ICC) and goes beyond previous CPSC and industry recommendations and guidance. The new national standard is important from a liability perspective since ANSI has earned respect through its 90 years of accrediting standards and courts often look to them in defining the standard of care.

    The Design and Inspection Standards, in Brief

      Design Requirements
      • Seating structures must comply with state or local building and fire codes.
      • Guardrails must be 3.5 feet high and enclose seating and aisles higher than 30 inches above the floor or ground.
      • Handrails, nonskid surfaces, and easily accessible aisles are required and must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
      • Openings must be less than 4-8 inches in diameter, depending on guardrail height.
      • Bleachers must resist swaying when crowds move suddenly or in concerted motion.
      Inspection Requirements
      • Upon construction and at least once a year, bleachers and grandstands must be inspected by a qualified professional.
      • Ensure bleachers are correctly erected and operating properly.
      • Inspect folding and telescopic seating during opening and closing.

    Safety Tips From Industry Professionals

    • Don't allow spectators to access folding or telescopic bleachers that aren't fully extended.
    • Monitor and adhere to weight and occupancy limits.
    • Watch for weather damage, whether seasonal, from sun and heat, or inclement, such as ice and snow.
    • Beware and inspect for damage, wear, and tear caused by crowds stomping in unison during spirited gatherings.
    • Readily repair sharp points, unfinished edges, protruding bolts, or other extrusions.


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