Bill Passed to Grant San Diego Lifeguards Better Benefits

Per SB-527, full-time local lifeguards will receive the same worker’s compensation benefits as other public safety employees

A new bill passed by California Governor Jerry Brown will now ensure that lifeguards working fulltime in San Diego will receive better benefits for injuries sustained on the job.

SB-527, penned by San Diego Senator Marty Block, was signed Friday by Gov. Brown in Sacramento.

The measure aims to give approximately 90 lifeguards employed fulltime by the City of San Diego the same worker’s compensation benefits as other public safety employees. That means lifeguards will receive enhanced compensation for injuries sustained in the line of duty.

The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

According to Block, the measure is much needed to protect the hard-working lifeguards in San Diego.

Block says local lifeguards perform between 4,000 and 6,000 water rescues and 40 to 70 cliff rescues per year, along with various additional duties.

“Lifeguards frequently perform tasks similar to police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. They also suffer injuries from difficult water and coastal cliff rescues and perform hazardous duties such as making arrests,” Block said in a statement released Friday.

“Our lifeguards help ensure that beach goers and tourists can enjoy our beautiful coastline with a sense of security,” he continued.

However, while lifeguards are classified as police officers, firefighters and EMTs, their disability benefits are just like those of non-safety employees.

When other public safety employees are injured on the job, they receive leave of absence of up to one year without loss of salary. Lifeguards, however, are excluded from this benefit and instead receive the temporary disability benefits paid to non-safety employees.

Now, through Block’s bill, there will be a change in benefits for local lifeguards.

Leading up to the passing of the measure, SB-527 was sponsored by the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council and received bipartisan support in both houses.

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