Lifeguards have the necessary job of keeping everyone safe while in and around the water, but their safety is just as important as those they protect. A large percentage of lifeguards are teenagers, with close to half being under 22 years old. They must be properly trained, and a lack of experience and other factors may lead to serious accidents.
Current U.S. data for lifeguard injuries is not specific, but acute muscle sprains and strains seem to be the most common. Other injuries include stress fractures, foot trauma, rotator cuff tendonitis, repetitive stress injuries, shin splints, and lacerations. Lifeguards are also more likely to experience skin cancer, and this is due to the large percentage of them being exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Eye injuries, such as cataracts and ocular sunburn, also occur from constant sun exposure. Indoor lifeguards show an increase in respiratory problems; a study showed that over 38 percent had bronchial or asthma issues.
Aside from the sun, lifeguards face risks of pool and sea waters contaminated by viruses, fungi, blood, and human waste. Pool chemicals, such as chlorine, testing chemicals, and acids can also be present in indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Sitting for long periods of time can lead to many of the musculoskeletal disorders described above, as can lifting and carrying children, adults, or heavy containers and items. Many lifeguards also work for more than one employer or have long shifts, which can lead to fatigue, poor judgment, and slower reaction times.
There are many ways to protect lifeguards from the dangers of lifeguarding. In addition to being properly certified, lifeguards should carefully research the organizations that will be employing them. If the environment does not seem safe, finding another employer is paramount. The following are some things to check for:
Many of the above guidelines apply here, but these lifeguards need to be protected from different hazards too, including:
These short lists are a sample of ways to keep lifeguards safe. Regular emergency drills, lockout procedures, and sun safety plans should be provided by employers. Lifeguards should also be trained on how to react when confronted by violence in the workplace, such as an angry beachgoer that is under the influence. The most important advice is to always be alert, even on the laziest of beach days.
If you need trusted legal guidance for any type of work-related injury, contact the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP today. We will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us at 267-589-0090 or complete an online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.