Your school bleachers are where students, family members, faculty, and the public come together to celebrate and have fun, whether for sporting events, concerts, or graduations. While bleachers are often a hub for excitement and entertainment, they can also be a source of accidents and injuries. In fact, more than 20,000 individuals are hurt in bleacher-related accidents every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
When it comes to bleacher safety, two main concerns are bleacher collapse and falls. Your school can help prevent these types of incidents by performing regular inspections and maintenance.
How to Complete Inspections
Your school should contract with a qualified individual or company—such as a licensed engineer, registered architect, or company approved to provide bleacher products or services—to inspect your bleachers per your state’s requirements. As part of this process, you should receive written certification that your bleachers are fit for use.
In addition to having a professional inspect your bleachers, your school’s maintenance or facilities staff should also perform its own inspections. The frequency of inspections may vary depending on how often your bleachers are used, as well as their age and condition, but you should always keep these guidelines in mind:
- Conduct inspections at least quarterly in order to identify any structural damage or wear that could compromise safety.
- Review the overall bleacher operation as well as the surface (including seat boards, stairways, walkways, railings, etc.) and underneath the structure.
- Document all inspection-related actions taken, the date, and the signature of the person performing the inspection.
When inspecting and maintaining your bleachers, pay attention to any odd noises on motorized bleachers, or floor markings that can indicate improper alignment. In addition, look for and replace:
- Loose, damaged, missing, or unstable parts, including boards, brackets, hardware, and fasteners
- Cracked or split seating, walkways, or risers
- Rot or corrosion
- Railings that are out of place or unsecure on the sides, ends, and aisles
- Broken, bent, or out-of-place uprights, rowlocks, row guides, or stops
- Unsecure anchor points
- Lack of lubrication in needed areas (e.g., any moving parts of telescopic bleachers)
Consult with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for guidelines on protecting bleacher openings and retrofitting bleachers to meet current specifications. By properly inspecting and maintaining your bleachers, you can improve safety and provide a positive experience to students, faculty, and guests during your school’s events.
 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Guidelines for Retrofitting Bleachers.” http://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/122347/330.pdf.