Resource Library

Complying with the Minnesota Bleacher Safety Act

Date: April 2015

The Minnesota Bleacher Safety Act was established in 1999 to prevent injuries due to both falls and physical condition hazards on any public or privately owned bleacher system greater than 55 inches in height. The act sets the minimum frequency of inspections, establishes the repair process for existing bleachers and includes standards for the design of new bleachers.

Bleacher Design Requirements

The main bleacher design requirements set forth in the Bleacher Safety Act follow.

The open space between bleacher footboards, seats and guardrails must not exceed 4 inches. An exception is allowed if safety nets are installed. A second exception is allowed for retractable bleachers already in place as of Jan. 1, 2001. For these bleachers, 9 inches is allowed between footboards and seats. The 9-inch exception applies to bleachers used in state or private colleges or universities.*

Bleachers must have vertical perimeter guardrails with no more than 4-inch spacing between rails. Two-inch nominal chain link fencing of at least 11 gauge or other approved guardrails that address climbability and are designed to prevent accidents are also allowed.

Bleachers must be structurally sound (i.e., no broken, badly deteriorated or disconnected brackets; no rotten or missing boards).

What Is a Bleacher, Anyway?

“Bleacher” refers to any tiered or stepped seating facility, whether temporary or permanent, used in a place of public accommodation for the seating of its occupants. Grandstands are included in this definition.

Risk Management Recommendations

To help maintain safe bleachers and ensure compliance with the Minnesota Bleacher Safety Act members should:

  • Create an inventory and schedule for bleacher inspections.
  • Have all bleachers more than 55 inches in height inspected by a state-certified building official or state-licensed design professional. The bleacher footboards and guardrails must be re-inspected every five years and a structural inspection must be made at least every 10 years or per local municipal requirements if more stringent.
  • Obtain a completed certificate of compliance signed by either of the above professionals for all bleachers currently meeting the provisions of the Bleacher Safety Act.
  • Prioritize and budget for repair, retrofitting and/or replacement of noncompliant bleachers.
  • Submit the completed compliance certificate to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Building Plan Review unit.
  • Implement a maintenance program for all bleacher systems and related areas, such as foundations and anchors.

Members who have questions about bleacher safety should contact their MCIT loss control consultant or risk control manager toll-free at 1.866.547.6516.

The following websites provide additional information about bleacher safety.

*Entities utilizing the 9 inch exemption as permitted above must have on file a bleacher safety management plan and amortization schedule.

Originally published in February 2013 MCIT Bulletin

The information contained in this document is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or coverage advice on any specific matter.