I work for a facility that runs 2 pools and 1 beach area each summer. We are currently training using American Red Cross. Both of our pools are guarded, but our beach area is unguarded. But there is an exception: every Wed. when our Day Camps utilize the beach, my staff guard the water at the beachfront for the times the Day Campers are there.
I feel that the beaches should be guarded throughout the summer season, 7 days per week, during posted times. The utilization of my guards each week for the Day Camp helps illustrate that there is an obvious need for supervision of the area. In speaking with my administration their defense is that there has not been a documented emergency incident at our beachfront in the past 15 years and they do not see a need for the added cost to guard the beachfront area. Our insurance carrier does not require guards at the beach, thus the administration feels it is an excessive request - where I believe that is much to the contrary!
Required or not, I feel that we are setting our selves up for a huge liability. I have found no law or code that requires a beachfront to be guarded, but would be open to any suggestions/ arguments/ rescources that might help plead my case to get our beach safe and in-line with our other aquatic facilities!
Because water-based activities are legally considered high risk, liability increases when managing swimming pools compared to other garden-variety recreation activities (such as jogging in the park). In addition, keep in mind user groups are classified trespassers, invitees or licensees.
Trespassers enter and use property without permission. Operators have limited responsibility for trespasser safety (with exception to children who fall under the legal doctrine of attractive nuisance). Taking reasonable and prudent precautions to secure the facility is normally all that is called for.
Invitees enter with the operator’s permission but without consideration (exchange of money). Operators must exercise due diligence by taking affirmative actions to reduce known risks and warning invitees of known dangers in and around the pool. Comparatively speaking, operators owe greater responsibility to invitees than to trespassers.
The final group of users is licensees. Operators owe the highest level of responsibility to licensees because licensees pay for services with the understanding there is guarantee that it is safe.
It is possible that the public at large is considered invitees (if the beach is used with permission) while your day camp group is a licensee. This is why you are your insurance carrier expects you to staff the beach for your group while the public is on its own.
Although I believe active enforcement and readily available response is preferred, the current economy dictates that the city is prudent in maintaining the status quo.
Joe - Thanks for your reply. It definitely sheds some light on the situation in a way I had not considered before. In defining what specifically our organization is, we are a homeowner's association with a 30,000+ member population. Each of those members pay a recreation fee that gains them access to our private beach front area, among other recreation ammenities. Guests of those members are able to access the beach daily for a small fee. In both instances, whether it be in a member's recreation fee or in a guest's daily admission, the patrons of our facility are paying money to access the area. So the argument could be made that they are licencees over invitees, according to my understanding of the above description.
Ahh, the clouds part…alas a ray of light. Association owned or operated property is generally considered private, not public, since membership is required. For licensee to be in effect requires a direct charge for entry to the beach (beyond a generic recreation charge as you disclosed).
I am guessing that guests (of paying members) are paying such a fee to gain access to the beach that also privileges access to the other recreational amenities. If this is the case, they are invitees.