A Decade of Work for Bleacher Safety

The 2012 edition of ICC 300: Bleachers, Folding and Telescopic Seating, and Grandstands, referenced in the 2012 International Building Code and International Existing Building Code for construction of and alterations and additions to bleachers and grandstands, reflects more than a decade of work by a variety of building safety professionals.

In 1999, two children died falling from bleachers, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. One was a 6-year-old who fell from the bleachers through a 13-inch opening between the footboard and seatboard. In the other case, a 3-year-old child fell through an opening in the guardrail. Exploring further, the CPSC found that 10 people died from 1980 through 1999, including the two children. They also found that an average of 19,100 bleacher-associated injuries were treated in emergency rooms.

As a result of this data, in 1999, the CPSC, backed by federal legislation seeking a standard for bleacher safety, formed a Roundtable on Bleachers and Grandstands. The following March, the Code Council Board of Directors appointed the ICC Consensus Committee on Bleacher Safety (IS-BLE) to develop a standard that would cover new and existing installations of all types of bleachers and bleacher-type seating. This would include fixed and folding bleachers intended for indoor, outdoor, temporary and permanent use.

By April 2010, it was time to update the 2007 edition of ICC 300. The Code Council issued a call for revisions, as well as for committee members. In June, the Code Council Board approved the following members for the IS-BLE: Dan Casella, Village of Rockville, Centre, New York; Tom Hilton, SGA Holdings Inc. of Lansing, Michigan; Gerald A. Hathaway, New York State Department of State Building Codes Division, Albany, New York; John Paul Scott, CREATE Access, Architects/Consultants of San Francisco; Michael W. Tantala, Tantala Associates, LLC, Philadelphia; and Kevin Warapius, Sturdisteel Co., Hewitt, Texas. Kimberly Paarlberg, R.A., Senior Staff Architect for the Code Council, serves as staff secretariat.

The Committee met in November 2010 to consider public proposals, and in December the first draft of public comments were posted and published in ANSI Standards Action. In March 2011, the Committee met to consider public comments and a second draft was published in April. In August 2011, ICC 300-2012 received final approval by ANSI as an American National Standard.

Highlights of the updated standard include:

Specifically addresses fire alarm systems for outdoor bleachers and grandstands (including provisions for temporary bleachers).
Bleacher systems with 300 seats or less, or bleacher systems with 15,000 seats or less (fire alarm systems for larger bleacher systems are addressed by the builder codes).
Aisle requirements for dead end allowances, as well as aisle accessway allowances for width for single and dual access and path through adjacent.
Rows have been adjusted for when seating has backrests and when seating is bench style.
Revisions for sway loads and load combinations are part of a coordination effort with AISC requirements for the unified ASD/LRFD material standard.
Requirements have been clarified for when handrails are required and how far the mid-aisle handrail extends when working with a cross-aisle.
Additional provisions added to prevent unsafe conditions when existing bleacher systems are under repair or relocated relocation.

Work on the next edition of ICC 300 is scheduled to begin in 2015 that will result in the 2017 edition, which is scheduled for reference in the 2018 International Codes.