Bleacher Safety2

Posted on 19 March 2009 by admin

by Michael Fickes

Every year, close to 20,000 men, women, and children fall out of bleachers and suffer injuries. Sometimes, a fall victim dies. Are your bleachers safe enough?

Guidelines For Bleacher Safety

A quick survey of the guidelines turns up recommendations for guardrails, openings, maintenance, and much more.

CPSC recommends that openings in guardrails should prevent passage of a four-inch sphere, the approximate size of a baby’s head. Nor should guardrails encourage young children to attempt to climb over. Specifically, CPSC recommends a picket fence guardrail design with no more than four inches between the “pickets.” A small child will not be able to slip between the bars or to climb them. If the in-fill guardrail members allow footholds, CPSC says to limit the maximum openings to 1.75 inches. Where visibility would not be significantly impaired, the publication recommends solid members.

The recommendations call for the use of guardrails on the back of bleachers. Guardrails should protect bleachers at heights above 30 inches. The top of the guardrail should be at least 42 inches above the leading edge of the adjacent footboard, seatboard or aisle.

These recommendations aim to prevent people from falling off of bleachers. Another set of recommendations prevents people from falling through. In this area, recommendations address the open deck design of older bleachers. CPSC recommends the addition of risers in the spaces below the seatboards and above the footboards. The riser should close off enough of the opening in the deck to prevent the passage of a four-inch sphere.

People also fall and hurt themselves while walking on bleachers. CPSC says such falls are likely to occur when there are missing or inadequate components that assist in access and egress, such as aisles and handrails. Non-skid surfaces also help people to keep their footing.

As a rule, new bleachers comply with these guidelines as well as regulations issued by the International Code Council (ICC), Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA), the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI), the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and applicable local codes.

“Over the past 10 to 15 years, many of these kinds of safety features have been incorporated into codes and become standard features for most manufacturers,” says Cathleen Holzknecht, director of marketing with Louisville-based Dant Clayton Corporation, one of the nations largest manufacturers of bleachers.

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