There are literally millions of indoor & outdoor bleacher seats installed all across North America. In most cases, these structures represent a significant investment at time of purchase, yet all too often owners take a "buy it & forget it" approach to their spectator seating. And since many of these units have a practical lifetime exceeding 30 years, inattention and neglect can create some serious safety and liability issues over time.
While the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach is applicable in many aspects of life, bleacher safety isn't one of them. Your bleachers require regular maintenance and safety inspections to ensure safe performance and maximum lifetime use. In fact, since the publication of the IBC-300 building code in 2003, existing bleachers are required to undergo an annual safety inspection by a qualified inspector.
- All existing bleacher seating installation shall be inspected and evaluated at least once a year by a qualified person for compliance to the safety and operational requirements of this Code.
- Where deficiencies are identified, the owner is responsible to abate the unsafe condition to satisfy the code. Approval and enforcement is the responsibility of the local building code official.
- An area in particular requiring close inspection is the design and use of guardrails. ICC-300 requires that open-sided walking surfaces located more than 30” above the floor below utilize guard rails such that a 4” sphere cannot pass through any opening. Be aware that the original guardrails on many bleachers installed prior to the mid 1990’s do not meet this guardrail requirement and require immediate attention.
- Openings between seatboards and footboards located more than 30” above the floor shall be closed with construction such that a 4” sphere cannot pass through.
It's anecdotal evidence at best, but I can tell you that in my conversations with bleacher owners around the country, most are blissfully unaware of this regulation, and very few are mitigating their risks and liability with an annual safety inspection. In their "Guidelines for Retrofitting Bleachers", the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are nearly 20,000 ER visits resulting from bleacher injuries each year - so the risks are very real.
We place a premium on the safety of our products here at Hussey Seating, and that's borne out by our safety record - we're the only major bleacher manufacturer to have never experienced a catastrophic collapse of our system. Yet as safe as we make our products, we still depend on our customers conducting the proper maintenance and inspections to keep them safe throughout their useful lifetime. Before your school's next spectator event, do yourself a favor and take a moment to check to see when your bleachers were last serviced and inspected - because bleacher safety is no accident.
For further details on inspection requirements or contact info for the Hussey Regional Service Center in your area, call or email Mark Beaulieu, our Manager of Dealer Service (207.676.0470)