Outdoor Bleachers: Do Yours Make the Cut?

Who doesn’t enjoy attending sporting events in the summer? Whether you are watching your local professional team or on the edge of your seat rooting on your future all-star, there is just something about sports in the summer that creates a special atmosphere like no other!

While taking in the excitement, one thing you probably don’t give much thought to is the condition of the seating you are provided to enjoy the game or event you are attending; but you should. Bleachers are a popular seating choice for spectators, fans, and players to gather in large numbers and view local sporting events, ceremonies, and other community activities. But unfortunately, old and outdated bleachers that haven’t been properly maintained can cause injury (and even death).

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How Safe Are Your Outdoor Bleachers?

In 1999, there were approximately 22,000 bleacher-related injuries in emergency rooms across the United States. Nearly one third of these injuries was a result of the person falling from or through the bleachers onto the ground below. A large majority of these falls involved children under the age of 15.

That is why the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) created guidelines to help identify and eliminate those features that present falling hazards. These guidelines can be used by facility owners and operators, including school officials and parks and recreation personnel to ensure that your bleachers are the safest possible. Not exactly sure what to look for? Below, find the key things to help keep your bleachers the safest:


Do your bleachers have them?

  • Guardrails should be present on the backs and portions of the open ends of bleachers where the footboard, seat board, or aisle is 30 inches or more above the floor or ground below.

If they are present, are they adequate?

  • The top surface of the guardrail should be at least 42 inches above the leading edge of the footboard, seat board, or aisle, whichever is adjacent. When bleachers are used adjacent to a wall that is least as high as the recommended guardrail height, the guardrail is not necessary if a 4-inch diameter sphere fails to pass between the bleachers and the wall.
  • Any opening between components of the guardrail or under the guardrail should prevent passage of a 4-inch sphere.

If present, are they designed to discourage climbing?

  • Guardrails should be designed with only vertical members as in fill between the top and bottom rails.
  • If there are openings in the in-fill that could provide a foothold for climbing, the widest measurement of the opening where the foot could rest should be limited to a maximum of 1.75 inches. Opening patterns that provide a ladder effect should be avoided.

Foot Planks, Seating, & Risers

Are there large gaps between bleacher structure and foot plank?

  • It is recommended that any opening between the components in the seating, such as the footboard, seat board, and riser, should prevent passage of a 4-inch sphere where the footboard is 30 inches or more above the ground and where the opening would permit a fall of 30 inches or more. (See below)
Outdoor Bleachers

Do your foot boards or seat planks show signs of wear and weather?

  • Old seat planks or footboards should be checked for secure connections as well as current condition. If the connections are loose and cannot be rectified replacement is recommended. If the condition of the plank is warped, rusted, or corroded, replacement is also recommended.


The CPSC also recommends that facilities perform regular inspections by trained personnel, preferably by a licensed professional engineer, registered architect, or company that is qualified to provide bleacher products and services. Inspections and repairs should be thoroughly documented and reviewed regularly.

If your facility is considering purchasing new bleachers, check with your local building inspector to learn which building and safety codes that your municipality requires with regard to bleacher design, materials, placement, anchoring, inspections, and maintenance.

When you’ve decided to replace your outdated bleachers and benches, and safety is your facility’s number one priority, choose Recreation Unlimited for premium spectator seating, always in stock and competitively priced for any budget!

Time for New Bleachers? We Can Help!

Recreation Unlimited can satisfy all of your seating needs with our full line of Spectator™ bleachers and benches. Our outdoor bleachers are constructed entirely of aluminum, with 10” wide anodized aluminum planks and welded aluminum angle framework for superior support and durability. We offer fixed bleachers, as well as tip ‘n roll models with swivel castors for easy transport and storage. Choose from 2, 3, 4, or 5-row models, from 7’ 6” up to 21’ in length, to fit your facility space and application. Chain link guardrail systems are included on our 5-row models, to prevent spectators from falling from the top and sides of the bleachers. We recommend anchoring fixed bleachers at all times. Contact a Recreation Unlimited engineer for anchoring recommendations based on your specific facility conditions.

Ready to get started? Contact us at (317) 776-7830 for complete bleacher product information, specifications, and more! We also offer sports equipment, site amenities, playgrounds, shade structures, and more. We look forward to serving you!

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