Workplace First Aid – OSHA position on AEDs

OSHA position on AEDs

When a person suffers a cardiac event their heart may stop functioning normally.

This event is called Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and it happens to around 250,000 people each and every year. 

Workplace electrocution, low oxygen environments for example in confined spaces, over exertion, and extreme heat are just some of the many factors that can be the trigger for a SCA. 

When a person’s heart begins to beat in an irregular or uncoordinated manner, nothing can help except an electrical shock to bring the heart back into normal rhythm. 

This electrical shock can be provided by an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

All Work Sites Should Consider AED Programs

OSHA states that “All worksites are potential candidates for AED programs.”

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Facts

  • The chance of surviving a SCA is reduced 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute that passes without emergency CPR or defibrillation.
  • If treatment is administered promptly, the normal heart rate is restored in around 60% of cases.
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) can take up to 20 minutes to arrive and by that time, the chances of survival are slim unless an AED is used by a member of the public.

Why your workplace first aid program should include an AED

Here are 4 reasons why your workplace first aid program should include an AED.

  1. SCA can occur anywhere, anytime, anyplace – including at your place of employment.
  2. Having an AED on site can increase survival rates because they can be used before EMS arrives.
  3. Only an AED can restore normal heart rhythm.
  4. They are lightweight, compact and easy to use.

Where to position an AED in your workplace

  • OSHA recommends the AED to be located in a place with easy access, to allow a response time of within 3-5 minutes.   
  • Centrally locate the AED for shorter response times.
  • Near an area where there are confined spaces or electric-powered devices
  • Outdoor work sites or events where lightning may occur
  • Fitness centers, exercise facilities or other types of health buildings
  • Cafeterias or other places where people congregate
  • Remote sites where there is limited access to emergency response
  • Do not put the AED in a corner far away from employees. 

Training is an important part of a workplace AED program

Recognizing a SCA event and notifying Emergency Response Personnel is one of several elements that make up a comprehensive AED training program. 

Workers should also be trained on how to perform CPR to recommended AHA guidelines, how to operate and deliver lifesaving defibrillation with an AED and how to care for someone who has experienced a SCA until the first responder emergency services arrive.

OSHA states that AEDs:

 “have a proven track record of saving lives in public places as well as in the workplace. They can do the same for you and your employees. Please consider installing AEDs in your workplace.” 

We would encourage you to go to the OSHA website to learn more about AEDs. You can also contact other reputable organizations who specialize in AEDs and comprehensive training programs such as the American Heart Association, or train to the same guidelines and protocols online for your CPR certification.

Other Elements of workplace first aid programs

AED usage is just one element of an effective first aid program, but it is a very important one.

Another crucial precursor to any first aid program is employee training. For any first aid program to be effective all employees must have completed mandated OSHA training required for the specific work environment.

This could include Hazard Communication training, Confined Space Safety, Bloodborne pathogens certification and various other courses.

It will also be essential to have at least some members of staff trained in basic first aid procedures, and to have OSHA emergency response plans, and a bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan in place.

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