Safety First

FeaturedSafety First

One might ask the question, “How relevant are the inspection of bleachers and grandstands?”

When I got my first car in the late ’70’s, it was a Mercury Capri which was imported from Germany. My dad had given me the ’67 Ford Mustang for use in college, but I felt it was time to upgrade. The car was not equipped with warning lights, not a single one to warn me that the oil was low, tire pressure needed adjusting, and a modicum of other warnings. It was up to the owner to periodically check the oil, water, tire pressure, and so on. Failure to follow these procedures usually meant that you would be stuck in a parking lot or along side the road. But that was okay, you could call for help. No, wait, cell phones were not in use yet.

To avoid such incidents, one would make sure all the important items were checked, inspected for wear and tear, low fluid levels, etc. This was done by the owner and/or a qualified mechanic. These safety checks reassured the owner, in the end, that they would not be stranded on some dark road on a rainy night.

In other words, safety first.

This holds true for bleachers and grandstands.

The standards for bleacher safety are found in the ICC 300-2012, Standard for Bleachers, Folding and Telescopic Seating, and Grandstands and in the NFPA 102, Standard for Grandstands, Folding and Telescopic Seating, Tents, and Membrane Structures. Both of these standards identify the requirements for inspection.

The owner shall cause all bleachers, folding and telescopic seating, and grandstands to be inspected at least once a year in order to verify that the structure is maintained in compliance with the provisions of this standard…by a qualified person….

These inspections would look for cracked seat/floor boards, missing or loose bolts, damaged welds or members, if portable bleachers are used, then the assurance that pins locked the seats and rails, and for any foundation issues for exterior bleachers. There are many more items that should be inspected and that is where a qualified person would insure the proper maintenance.

Just like in the old days, before warning lights in your car, these annual inspections are like those warning lights. As with past tragedies regarding bleachers and grandstands, the life and safety of the public comes first.

For more detailed reading, please download a copy of my white paper. In addition to this website, there is information on how to contact us for an inspection. We would love to help you out.

Bleachers Closed for Safety

Article from the Daily Democrat, Woodland, CA (10/06/2015)

Although this article is several years old, it stresses the point of bleacher safety and the need for annual inspections as recommended by the ICC 300-2012 and the NFPA 102 standards.

Woodland’s Community Stadium bleachers closed for safety

Deo Ferrer – Daily Democrat Woodland High School’s bleachers as the Community Stadium have been closed for safety reasons after they started to buckle.


Deo Ferrer-Daily Democrat The bleachers and the press box at Woodland High School Community Stadium have been closed for safety reasons effective immediately.

By Democrat staff

The bleachers at Community Stadium, home of the Woodland High School football team, have been declared off limits due to safety concerns.

In a statement released by the Woodland School District late Monday, Superintendent Maria Armstrong reported the bleachers on both sides of the field “are damaged to the degree that they are too dangerous for use.”

Armstrong reported the condition was discovered during Woodland’s most recent home game on Sept. 18 against Vintage of Napa, when people sitting on the visitor’s side of the field reported “that the bleachers were ‘buckling.’”

“The District immediately began to contact appropriate personnel to determine the safety of the bleachers,” Armstrong reported in her statement. “The assessment results revealed that structures are damaged to the degree that they are too dangerous for use. The District consulted with numerous individuals, along with the District’s insurance providers, to create a short-term plan for the impending ‘red-tagging’ of the bleachers.”

Armstrong reported the inspector deemed both the visitor and home side, along with the press box, as unsafe.

At the news of this assessment, the District developed the following short-term plan to address the issue:

•Current Bleachers will be fenced-in to restrict access.

•Temporary Bleachers will be placed on the dirt track (ADA compliant and elevated) Monday, Oct. 12 through Nov. 16 to complete the football season.

Meanwhile, homecoming activities, scheduled within for Friday, Oct. 16, will remain intact with minor adjustments.

“The safety of everyone is of the utmost importance to the District,” Armstrong stated. “We thank the community in advance for their patience as the District works on a long-term solution to address the problem.”

Site Observation


This past week I completed the site observation of the Pacific Raceways grandstands. In particularly the oldest grandstand at the track which has required several modifications to keep it operational. Some of the vertical post had experienced some freeze thaw issues and had split. The onsite fabricator reinforced the section as required by the report I had submitted last May. The Fire Marshal wanted the work to be observed by a licensed engineer to ensure that the work was in compliance to the report and Pacific Raceways had asked me to come and observed the work performed.

If they had chosen to ignore many of these issues, serious injuries could have resulted. Pacific Raceways chooses not to ignore and want those that attend their events to be safe. Kudos!

I look forward to next years visit and may head up in mid-August to attend a race.

Pacific Raceways

Main Grandstands Along Drag Strip

Last May, I did the initial inspection for the grandstands located at the Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA. The found me through a Google search on bleacher safety, where they found my white paper. They contacted me and I got the job. It was, and hopefully  continues to be, a great job. One thing that structural engineering has taught me all these years, is that the safety of the public comes first. Probably why I am also a volunteer with Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, even if it is with the auxiliary group and their antique engines. And thus why NFPA 102 turns its attention to bleacher and grandstand safety as well.

Construction Administration

If it was important to have your bleachers and grandstands inspected annually and major repairs needed to happen, would it not be important that the work done be visually inspected? This ensures that the work done will conform to current standards. If there are areas that were not fixed correctly, it is important. The public safety is important.


Disasters like this can be avoided. (Picture from a bleacher collapse in Columbus, Ohio.

Annual Inspections


Annual inspections on bleachers and grandstands, is recommended by both the International Code Council’s standard, ICC 300-2012, and the National Fire Protection’s standard, NFPA-102. It might appear to be a costly endeavor to contract a professional to inspection their structures, but how important is the safety of the general public? In a recent case in which I provided services as an expert witness, the plaintiff had fallen backwards which caused considerable physical damage. At present, it is a matter of who pays, the manufacturer or the facility who maintains the bleachers.

Costly mistake that could have been prevented with annual inspections.