HOA Pool Lifeguards: Are they Liabilities?

Summer is here, and for many associations, this means another pool season begins! With the opening of pools, especially in the current climate, several factors must be considered.

What are the hours of operation? Do you need a pool management company? What is the maintenance schedule? Do you have the proper insurance? What about lifeguards? Should you have them or not?

Certain factors should be considered when making decisions about lifeguards:

  • Cost: Deciding if a lifeguard fits in the budget is a good place to start. What are the schedule and usage? Does your association population necessitate a regular lifeguard? Also, review the contract price and insurance rates involved along with your overall budget to find out what makes sense for your association.
  • Certifications: Make sure the company you hire provides proper certification for their employees, so you get a lifeguard with the right training and insurance to give your homeowners the best service possible.
  • Liability: Consult your legal counsel about the liability lifeguards pose on your association. Finding the right insurance to protect your association is important and so is confirming the lifeguard has adequate insurance as well.
  • Pool Management: Does your pool management vendor require lifeguards? If so, they might want indemnification in the case that your association decides against hiring a lifeguard. This poses a higher liability for your association.
  • Legal Regulations: During this ongoing pandemic, it remains important to stay updated on the recommendations of local health officials. Certain operating requirements may be distracting for lifeguards, so take into consideration onboarding additional staff to help.

When selecting a lifeguard agency, make sure to vet your options. Your association deserves the best service available!

Per the United States Lifesaving Association, look for the following things, especially with COVID-19. Do they:

      • Have adequate training?
      • Follow universal precautions (e.g., provided with gloves, N95 masks, eye protection, etc.)?
      • Practice good personal hygiene (i.e., wash hands frequently)?
      • Abide by state and local health officials?

Remember, lifeguards serve the purpose of ensuring the safety of homeowners using the pool. Given the current pandemic, refrain from relying on lifeguards to enforce all additional guidelines, such as occupancy and disinfecting, if it will hinder their ability to perform their duties. You might consider hiring additional attendants or monitors for cleaning and capacity regulations.

If your association opts for no lifeguard, you might consider a pool monitor or attendant instead, even beyond the current COVID-19 restrictions. Monitors can make sure the pool rules are followed without the liability lifeguards carry. Additionally, signage should be posted notifying homeowners that no lifeguard is present (e.g., “NO Lifeguard—Swim at Your Own Risk”). Also, put your decision in writing and communicate it to the community to keep homeowners informed.

Related: What Items Must be Approved in an Open Meeting?

Above all, it’s important to consult your management partner and, if necessary, an association attorney. They can be vital resources when making decisions impacting your association’s exposure because they stay updated on regulations and best practices to help you make a well-informed position.

If you are going to change your existing process, it is a good idea to consult the experts in your area. Stay safe, and happy swimming!

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