Around the year 2000, in addition to “Y2K disaster” looming on the horizon, the MN legislature passed a law to improve bleacher safety. The law defined the types, specification, and application of bleacher guardrails and other openings. Shortly after that, most cities made improvements and inspected their bleachers as required, but that was 15 years ago!
Bleachers EffectedIn places of public accommodation using bleacher seating, all bleachers or bleacher open spaces over 55 inches above grade or the floor below, and all bleacher guardrails if any part of the guardrail is over 30 inches above grade or the floor below must conform to the following safety requirements:
RailingsThe open space between bleacher footboards, seats, and guardrails must not exceed four inches, unless approved safety nets are installed. Guardrails must have vertical perimeter guardrails with no more than four-inch rail spacing between vertical rails or other approved guardrails that reduce the ability for a person to climb the railings. Chain link fencing can be added to existing guard railing systems, or used in place of vertical supports, to meet this requirement.
OpeningsThe open space between bleacher footboards, seats, and guardrails must not exceed four inches, unless approved safety nets are installed, except that retractable bleachers already in place as of January 1, 2001, which can have open spaces less than 9”.
CertificationThe certification shall be prepared by a qualified and certified building official or state licensed design professional and shall certify that the bleachers have been inspected and are in compliance with the requirements of this section and are structurally sound. For bleachers owned by a school district or nonpublic school, the person the district or nonpublic school designates to be responsible for buildings and grounds may make the certification.
Re-inspectionBleacher footboards and guardrails must be re-inspected at least every five years and a structural inspection must be made at least every ten years. Inspections may be completed in the same manner as provided in subdivision 4. This section does not preclude a municipal authority from establishing additional re-inspections under the State Building Code.
by Joe Ingebrand