Reporting Negligent Lifeguards

Lifeguards have an important responsibility to keep swimmers safe. So, when should you report a negligent lifeguard and how can you do it?
Reporting Negligent Lifeguards

Last update: 23 December, 2019

Pool and beach lifeguards play a crucial role in keeping swimmers safe. In Spain, more than 80 percent of the deadly accidents that occurred on a beach or at a pool happened in the absence of a lifeguard.

They take on an enormous responsibility but you should also know and understand what those responsibilities are as well as their limitations. In our post today, we want to dive into a complicated subject that has many loose ends: when should you report a negligent lifeguard and how can you do it?

Obligations swimming pool lifeguards

According to the lifeguard collective of Spain, lifeguards take on a number of legal obligations in their work. Their most important obligation is watching over a pool or beach, paying special attention to bathers’ behaviors in order to detect and warn against imprudent conduct.

Aside from preventing possibly dangerous behaviors, lifeguards also need to watch out for the safety of the area as a whole. For example, in a pool environment, lifeguards must watch out for dangerous actions such as running alongside the pool. In addition, they should call out inappropriate behaviors such as splashing other bathers or eating and drinking in the pool.

Beach lifeguards should notify the public on the water conditions; they especially need to point it out to those who ignore the flags. Adding on, both pool and beach lifeguards have the obligation of keeping their post while they’re on the job.

They may leave their post, however, when they need to help someone who has suffered an accident or is at risk of drowning. Whatever the case, lifeguards should have a good insurance plan.

Pool lifeguards are also responsible for keeping the pool area hygienic, which means they might have to clean the pool floor or collect water samples from time to time. However, they can’t perform these tasks during their watch.

lifeguards pool safety

A lifeguard’s responsibilities

Lifeguards aren’t personally hired for certain individuals. Their obligations are tied to all bathers but there is no preferential treatment.

Thus, adults who take their children to a pool or beach should understand that they are responsible for their children’s safety. Some institutions in other countries, such as the German Life-Saving Association (DLRG) state that if a child suffers an accident outside of their parent’s watch, the responsibility should fall on the parents’ negligence rather than the lifeguard.

Furthermore, lifeguards aren’t allowed to intervene in certain situations. These include robberies, crimes or public disruptions that take place in the area. Aside from lacking the training to deal with these situations, reacting could distract them from their duty. Ultimately, lifeguards have the obligation of keeping swimmers safe in the water.

When should you report lifeguards?

Lifeguards can fail their duties when they don’t attend to their life-saving obligations. Article 195 in the Spanish Criminal Code defines this as lifeguards who don’t help an individual who finds him or herself in distress or serious danger.

Failing to save or help an individual in need can end in a work prohibition. The prohibition can range from three to twelve months or six months to three years.

lifeguards report

Furthermore, the period can even extend to six to 18 months if the lifeguard provokes a dangerous situation by accident. However, if the accident is caused by negligence, a jail term can be applied and may range from six months to four years.

Lifeguards: different types of risks and injuries

In Spain, you can also report a lifeguard on injury charges. Article 152 of the Spanish Criminal Code outlines situations regarding injuries. They include circumstances where lifeguards act brashly and cause an injury to the person they’re helping. The maximum term is a three-year sentence.

Lastly, people can also report involuntary manslaughter if a swimmer dies as a result of a lifeguard’s intervention. In such cases, Article 142 of the Spanish Criminal Code outlines a sentence of one to four years in prison. In addition, lifeguards may be prohibited to a work for three to six years.



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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.