Following 2 lifeguard deaths, NJ beach patrols flagged for violations
Compliance officers within the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development uncovered violations related to boat hazards, lightning policies, and record keeping, in a large-scale inspection of beach patrols that was prompted by the deaths of two young lifeguards.
But the municipalities found to be in violation won't face any penalties if the proper steps are taken to address the issues.
DOL's Office of Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health performed a total of 58 inspections of beach patrols that employ public workers in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May counties. According to DOL, the inspection project was meant to "spread knowledge and awareness" of certain dangers in an effort to prevent future tragedies.
The effort launched following the August 2021 deaths of 16-year-old Norman Inferrera III and 19-year-old Keith Pinto. Norman perished while on duty after his lifeguard boat was capsized by a wave off of Cape May. Keith was fatally struck by lightning while stationed on a lookout tower at White Sands Beach in Berkeley Township.
Compliance officers were deployed to the beaches following each incident to investigate associated safety concerns. After learning of potential boat- and lightning-related hazards faced by beach workers, DOL said, the inspection project was initiated.
"Norman and Keith were valued young members of their communities, their squads, and this state who gave their lives in protecting their fellow New Jerseyans and guests visiting our shoreline," said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. "This beach safety initiative was a vast and critical undertaking, and as a result, our Jersey Shore destinations are now more aware and better equipped to address boating and lightning safety issues."
DOL did not reveal which patrols were inspected and which patrols presented with violations. Officers found violations relating to boat hazard assessments, boat hazard assessment certifications, lightning policies, and record keeping, the department said.
Since the tragedies, Cape May's Reading Avenue Beach has been renamed Inferrera Memorial Beach, and the beach in Berkeley was dedicated as Keith Pinto Memorial Beach at White Sands.