Many condominium and homeowner associations have pools and therefore the question arises of whether or not a lifeguard should be hired to monitor the pool. In Pennsylvania, there are two issues which must be considered when making this decision. First is the question of whether regulatory liability exists under Pennsylvania Code Public Bathing Law, 35 P.S. § 672. Under the Public Bathing Law if the pool is open to the general public a lifeguard is required to be on duty when the pool. If the association restricts the pool usage only to members and their invited guests, then the association is not required to hire a lifeguard under the Public Bathing Law as members and guests is not considered the “general public”.
The second issue is whether the association owes a duty of reasonable care to every person who enters its pool area pursuant to Pennsylvania negligence or premises liability laws. It is undisputed that an association is responsible for everything that occurs within its pool and surrounding areas and the association has a responsibility to provide a safe environment for all swimmers. If there is a breach of this duty of care through negligent acts or omissions and the negligence is the proximate cause of an injury, the association may be liable as a result of the breach.
Under the Pennsylvania negligence and premises liability law, there is no direct requirement that all pools have lifeguards. Although, if an injury were to occur, the association that took the preventive measure to hire a lifeguard would be afforded a stronger legal defense than the association that decided against hiring a lifeguard. A lifeguard can help limit an association’s exposure to financial damages in specific situations and hiring a qualified lifeguard would help insulate the association from negligence liability.
Therefore, although an association is not required under Pennsylvania law to hire a lifeguard if the pool is not open to the general public, it would be highly recommended that all associations with pools hire a certified lifeguard for all hours of operation.