UPDATE: Recent Clarifications from the New Jersey Department of Health on the Amendments to the Public Recreational Bathing Code
In our most recent blog post, we responded to a reader considering eliminating the lifeguard at their pool. This is something that many communities have considered doing this pool season as a result of the amendments to the Public Recreational Bathing Code, N.J.A.C. 8:26-1 (the “Code”), particularly the requirement that facilities with pools larger than 2,000 square feet of surface area have at least two lifeguards on duty. Recently, the New Jersey Department of Health issued a Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) clarifying that a “private nonprofit common interest community” is a “specially exempt facility” and thus exempt from the lifeguard requirements of the Code. Accordingly, so long as your community is a specially exempt facility and complies with all other requirements of the Code, there is no requirement that you have at least two lifeguards on duty if your pool has a surface area greater than 2,000 square feet. One lifeguard will continue to suffice, provided you have appropriate signage.
If you nonetheless decide to eliminate the lifeguard at your pool, the Public Recreational Bathing Code requires that you post a sign at least three feet by four feet in size, prominently displayed at every entrance to each swimming area, stating: (a) “No lifeguard on duty,” (b) “Persons under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult,” and (c) “No swimming alone.” This sign must include the hours the pool is open and all information on the sign must be easily readable with contrasting colors. At mobile home parks or retirement communities, the sign must also state: “This pool is closed when the owner or operator is not on the premises.” There are also additional signage requirements for a “Health Club” registered with the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs pursuant to N.J.S.A. 56:8-39.
Given the insurance and other legal implications, we highly recommend that you consult with your attorney and insurance agent prior to opening your pool this season, especially if you are considering making any decision to eliminate your lifeguard.