LAKE VIEW TERRACE (CBSLA) – At least 22 lifeguards with the city of Los Angeles say they have developed rashes and bacterial infections after being forced to take part in mandatory swim training in Hansen Dam Recreational Lake.
The lifeguards held a news conference Tuesday in which they claimed the lake is filled with parasites which infected them with a rash called cercarial dermatitis, also known as "swimmer's itch," which is caused by a water parasite which burrows in the skin.
Roxane Marquez, a spokeswoman for SEIU 721, the union representing city lifeguards, alleges the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks was negligent by not testing the water and forcing the lifeguards to swim in the lake for training last month.
According to a grievance filed by the union on Monday, a group of lifeguards had to swim in the lake on April 25 and April 26 for a mandatory swim exam without testing the water to ensure it was safe.
The lifeguards had warned supervisors the water was dangerous and unsafe, but their concerns were ignored, the grievance states.
"It's a big deal when workers come together and say, 'Hey boss, this is unsafe, and it's not going to work out,'" Marquez said. "And it's a big deal when the boss says, 'No, you gotta do it.'"
The lifeguards suffered rashes all over their bodies, were forced to use workers compensation for medical care and have been away from work since, the grievance reads.
"All that they're (lifeguards) asking is that things be made safe for them and for the public," Marquez said.
The parks department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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