Saturday, July 13, 2013

Governor signs measure to grant local lifeguards same benefits as other public safety employees

Block’s SB 527 earns bipartisan support

SACRAMENTO—San Diego’s fulltime lifeguards will receive the same workers’ compensation benefits as other public safety employees under a bill signed today by Gov. Jerry Brown.

SB 527, authored by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego), would ensure that the approximately 90 lifeguards employed by the City of San Diego would receive enhanced compensation for injuries sustained while on the job. The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

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

Block said lifeguards perform 4,000 to 6,000 water rescues and 40 to70 cliff rescues on an annual basis, along with other duties such as enforcing State Fish and Game laws and interacting with Homeland Security to protect coastal areas.

While lifeguards are classified as police officers, firefighters and EMTs, their disability benefits mirror that of non-safety employees. Other injured public safety employees receive a leave of absence of up to one year without loss of salary. City lifeguards are excluded from this benefit and receive the temporary disability benefits paid to non-safety employees.

SB 527 was sponsored by the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council and received bipartisan support in both houses.

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