What Are the Dangers of Working as a Lifeguard?

Lifeguards have a tough job, taking more risks than most people could ever imagine. Even for most lifeguards themselves, sustaining a serious personal injury is rarely a thought until the unthinkable becomes a reality. It is similar in many ways to other hazardous occupations, yet it rarely seems that way.

A job sitting by a pool, lake, or ocean and enjoying the rays of the sun while taking in the pleasant surroundings, especially for many young people who are in school or have recently graduated, seems like a good idea. This seemingly easy, picturesque job can be attractive to a person without requiring much second thought.

Besides the obvious allure of a lifeguard job, the idea of saving someone from drowning for many people is both exciting and rewarding. Lifeguarding is appealing to many people who have never done it. Unfortunately, working as a lifeguard could turn out disastrous; just ask other lifeguards who have seen or experienced some unfortunate incidents.

Working around water and working around people who do not have a sense of danger, which is the general mindset of most people soaking in the sun, can bring with it problems that one might not have thought of beforehand. As with any other job, most people do not consider getting injured until it happens, and that is why it is ultimately important that you know the dangers of working as a lifeguard, how to prevent injury, and what to do if you are injured.

What Types of Injuries Do Lifeguards Face?

One of the most common injuries for lifeguards is perhaps the least thought of: a slip and fall accident. Besides being young, most lifeguards are in good physical condition. Therefore, the idea of becoming injured from a slip and fall accident is rarely ever a thought. Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents do not discriminate; they could happen to anyone.

Slip and fall accidents happen frequently wherever there are water and hard surfaces. Around public pools, you will find cement and other hard surfaces that could become slippery when wet. From the walking area to the diving board, hard, wet surfaces present a problem. Public showers also add to the possibility of experiencing a slip and fall.

A slip and fall accident could cause a plethora of injuries. Among the most common injuries are scrapes, cuts, and broken bones. The more severe injuries happen as a result of forceful contact to the skull. This happens when a person cannot react in time to break a fall on a hard surface or object. The result could range from a migraine headache to a chronic brain injury to death.

There are other danger areas and tasks that place lifeguards at risk. Despite the usual sitting and watching that lifeguards do, there are tasks that they perform. Cleaning up, lifting, and climbing all present potential dangers. Lifeguards are often distracted watching people swim and moving about, so a simple task could sometimes become a not-so-simple one.

Falling from a ladder or watchtower at a pool, lake, or beach can easily result in an injury. A fall from a considerable height is a dangerous proposition no matter what physical condition you are in. Broken bones and brain injuries are not uncommon in such a fall, but neck and back injuries are the biggest worry. A severe injury to the neck or back could cause paralysis or death.

Exposure to toxic chemicals can cause many problems. Pools must be maintained, and that means the use of a number of different substances, the most common of which are chlorine and disinfectants. The breathing in of fumes from strong or poorly mixed doses of certain chemicals could cause irritation or severe problems with the skin. Eyes are also in danger from chemicals if contact is made.

Another potential danger that people do not like to think about is a biohazard. Chemicals are used in pools to help prevent the spread of illnesses or the contracting of a disease, but chemicals such as chlorine cannot stop everything. Coming in direct contact with blood or vomit, for instance, can cause a person to contract any number of illnesses from a simple infection to hepatitis and asthma.

Although it is difficult to think about, lifeguards are in danger of severe injury or death when rescuing someone from drowning. This means that lifeguards place themselves at risk every time they attempt a rescue. Making a rescue in rough ocean waters is always risky; in addition, it is the uncooperating person who is being saved that could present the danger. This unfortunate scenario could happen in any body of water.

Heat-related illnesses are also a possibility. Too much exposure to the sun could cause anything from sunburn to skin cancer. Another heat-related illness is heat stroke, and that could cause death if not addressed in time.

The dangers of being a lifeguard are many. Torn muscles and ligaments to dehydration are also possibilities that lifeguards face. Lifeguards have to worry about equipment, people, and, in the ocean, sharks and other sea life. Being a lifeguard is a job that is most often not as glamourous as it appears.

How Can Lifeguards Avoid Injuries?

The best way for a lifeguard to remain safe is for there to be stringent rules and training. Most places across the United States require a license to become a lifeguard. Choosing the right training program is important, but each public facility must have strict rules as well.

Once a lifeguard candidate has passed training and has earned a lifeguard certification, it is up to the lifeguard to remain efficient and safe. Beach lifeguards should be careful when climbing up and down watch stands or towers. Although these maneuvers might seem easy, falling awkwardly from a tower could be catastrophic. Even a tall chair could present a problem when exiting too quickly.

Working as a team is critically important for beach lifeguards. Good procedures for teamwork can better save lives and prevent injuries for lifeguards and those who need help, so following those procedures and working as a team are essential.

For lifeguards working around a pool, learning to take your time is key. Be careful of slippery areas, and never run when you can walk. This will also set an example for guests. Read instructions for mixing chemicals and other substances, and be sure to wear a mask, safety goggles, or respirator if necessary.

Make sure to follow up on any part of the job you are not 100 percent confident about, such as first-aid procedures, rescuing techniques, and using hazardous chemicals.

Are Lifeguards Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

The short answer is yes. If a claim is filed on time, most injuries, despite the reason, qualify for Workers’ Compensation. All employers, with a few exceptions, such as farmworkers, must carry this benefit. The primary purpose of Workers’ Compensation is to provide compensation for employees who have been injured at work.

Unfortunately, there are several ways that insurance companies can deny Workers’ Compensation. You must remember that insurance companies will investigate and are not readily going to hand out money. The lapse in time between the injury and reporting it is one reason your claim may be denied. Not having proper medical treatment, including having receipts as evidence of your care, is another.

Medical expenses and lost wages are usually covered by Workers’ Compensation policies. Coverage includes all medical expenses that have to do with your injury. That includes any medications, tests, and treatments. Of course, your health insurance coverage will come into play, so you should check your coverage with your insurance company.

Lost wages are covered when your injury has forced you to miss time at work. However, it is important to know that Workers’ Compensation will cover only a portion of your salary. Permanent disabilities may also be covered. A worker could receive either a lump-sum payment or recurring payments.

Death benefits may also be paid to a deceased worker’s family. This includes funeral expenses as well. Of course, if your loved one has suffered what you believe to be a wrongful death, you should contact a lawyer immediately.


Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Clients Who Have Sustained a Work-Related Injury

Lifeguards and those working in other summer professions are covered by Workers’ Compensation. If you have been injured at work and have been denied the benefits for which you are entitled, call the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our legal team will walk you through every step of the claims process, address all your questions and concerns, and ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.