01 Nov 2018

Why It’s Important To Inspect And Maintain Aluminum Bleachers

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aluminum bleachers inspect

It’s important to create a schedule to regularly inspect your aluminum bleachers by a qualified person and to keep detailed records. These inspections can find issues that can be remedied before they cause a problem with the integrity of the bleacher structure.

The safety of your aluminum bleachers depends on regular inspections and routine maintenance.

With the extended use from spectator traffic and rowdy fans supporting their teams throughout the year, aluminum bleachers get a workout.

Add in the constant exposure to the changing, sometimes extreme weather, atmospheric and environmental conditions, and it’s easy to see the importance of routinely scheduled bleacher inspections and preventative maintenance.

By doing so, you keep all of your bleacher users and event spectators safe, secure and comfortable, including those with ADA needs.

And oh, by the way, you’re also adhering to the International Code Council ICC 300-2017 requirement that bleachers, including grandstands, folding and telescoping are inspected annually by a “qualified” person. Plus, your local building codes might require regular inspections as well.

Another big benefit to performing regular maintenance and inspections is to provide protection from lawsuits should the unthinkable happen.

So, make it a point to regularly look at your aluminum bleacher structures from the bottom footing up through the tallest guard or back railing using the eye of an inspector and making notes to repair, improve and enhance the areas that need it.

Inspections of Aluminum Bleachers start from the ground up

• When aluminum bleachers are installed, the base should be adequately supported across the length of the bleacher structure. Always check to make sure the footings are solid, supportive, and when needed, attached with the proper hardware and connectors. This is the basis of installing a safe and sound structure, one that will withstand the changing loads from moving foot traffic as well as load producing weather situations.
• Make sure you are using properly rated fasteners and connectors to match the environment of the installed aluminum bleachers structure. Aluminum bleachers installed in specialized environments, like those around salt water or high humidity pool areas, need corrosion-resistant components to ensure safety and longevity for the structure.
• Inspect the current connectors and fasteners to make sure they are rust and corrosion free, with no cracks or missing parts.
• Check all structural welds and cross braces to make sure they are fully intact and crack free.
• Confirm the viability of all nuts and bolts, making sure that sharp areas and bolt ends are adequately covered so as to prevent inadvertent cuts, scrapes and punctures.

Focus on spectator seating for comfort

As your inspector’s eye takes you up the aluminum bleacher structure, you should look closely at the floor and seating planks.

• Look first to make sure that all of the seating planks and floorboards are accounted for. It’s easy enough when the bleachers are empty to notice if there any aluminum planks missing, but a closer inspection and walkthrough should be performed to locate and mark any broken or damaged seating planks and floorboards.
• Check seating planks and floorboards for rough or uneven edges, warping, or sharp points that would cause harm to the unsuspecting occupant. These are often overlooked, but because they can be hidden dangers they can easily cause cuts, scrapes or even punctures to an unsuspecting hand or unprotected leg or foot sliding along the surface.
• Check stairways and walking paths, taking note if they are not secure and solid. Always inspect loose, unstable planks and stair treads for damage and necessary preventative repairs.
• Egress points and ADA ramps and spaces should always be safely marked, unobstructed and easily visible. Are yours?

Focus on safety

Guardrails, handrails and properly covered openings within aluminum bleacher structures can be lifesavers, literally. But when not tended to, they can also cause accidents that result in injury or worse. As part of a quality inspection routine, guardrails, handrails and any potential open space hazards should be noted and corrected immediately.

• Guardrails are mandated to be installed at proper locations with specific requirements. Check to make sure that your aluminum bleachers have guardrails installed along all open-sided walking surfaces and ramps. Guardrails are to be located at cross aisles, stairways and the landing areas of any and all tiered seating sections measuring more than 30 inches above the floor or ground level grade. The only exception to this code specific requirement is if the bleachers are installed adjacent to and within 4 inches of a wall or other structure.
• Guardrails are mandated along the full width of any aisle where the foot of the aisle is 30 inches or more above the floor or existing ground surface.
• The top surface of your guardrails must be at least 42 inches above the leading edge of the footboard, seat plank or aisle.
• Guardrails and handrails must be manufactured and installed to resist a load of 50 pounds per linear foot (pound per foot), with a single, concentrated load of 200 pounds, applied in any direction at any direction along the top of the rail.
• Chain link fencing is an acceptable component to use for guards, as long as the mesh opening of the fencing measures 1.25 inches or less.
• All openings in and around guardrails must be constructed so that a 4-inch diameter sphere cannot pass through that opening.
• Likewise, any naturally occurring openings that are more than 30 inches above grade level and are located between the seat boards and foot planks must be constructed so that a 4-inch diameter sphere cannot pass through. If the opening is measured to be greater than 4-inches, guards must be installed to bring the opening into compliance.

Awareness and routine bleacher inspections are key

Keep your aluminum bleachers in tip-top shape by staying aware of the bleacher structure’s condition through a routine inspection and maintenance program. Anyone that works with or around your bleachers can be trained to look for and report any problems, concerns or issues. Have a system for users and spectators to report concerns, and follow these simple guidelines:

• Train staff to look for and report damage or unusual wear issues immediately for further inspection and follow-up repair when needed.
• Perform your own bleacher inspections throughout the year. A good schedule of inspection is right before the fall sports season begins and then again before the start of the spring sports season. While prepping the aluminum bleachers for upcoming scheduled games or other events, take the time to do a thorough, visual inspection of all connectors, fasteners and components, noting anything that looks questionable.
• Schedule a yearly professional aluminum bleacher inspection as mandated in the ICC Standard on Bleacher, Folding and Telescopic Seating, and Grandstands (ICC 300-2012 IS-BLE). This requirement can save a lot of headaches in the future should any accidents occur within your venue.
• Document, document, document. When performing your own inspection and maintenance, or scheduling the annual professional inspection, make sure to document any activity, including the findings and resulting actions and resolutions.

By taking the time to inspect and properly maintain your aluminum bleacher structure, you can be confident that the attending fans will be comfortable and safe while they are in your bleacher structure.

And you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done all you can to keep them safe, comfortable and willing to come back for the next event.

Written By Gerald Dlubala

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