In deciding to implement an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) program in the workplace, there are many factors and risks to assess and consider.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is responsible for the deaths of 325,000 Americans every year, 10,000 of which occur in the workplace. Correct application of an AED program, as well as well maintained management and training, can help reduce these risks significantly.
Initial evaluation of the workplace can help identify the risks of SCA given the profile of the workforce - the number of employees, particularly middle-aged men, and the elderly, as well as contributing factors such as stressful environments and physical exertion.
It is highly likely that professional first responders would be unable to attend to deliver a shock within a 3-5 minute Drop To Shock window, whereas trained internal responders are much more reliable and essential in the event of an SCA.
An AED risk assessment should always consider the following steps, to increase the survival rate within a 3-minute window. With CPR and defibrillation within 3-5 minutes of a cardiac arrest taking place, the chance of survival will increase from 6%-74%
- Recognizing the event as a cardiac emergency
- Communication of the emergency
- Notifying the internal first responders
- Arriving at the victim’s location
- Attaching the AED and delivering the shock.
Location and Use
Only 50% of Americans can locate an AED at work, which makes placement and installation of the utmost importance. For every minute after an SCA, the chance of survival drops by 10%, so the only reasonable course of action is to ensure that the location and accessibility of an AED is known to all employees.
Other factors to consider are the security of the AED, to prevent theft, tampering, and vandalism, while ensuring the unit is never kept in a locked cabinet. Environmental considerations such as cold weather should also be taken into consideration, where AED units are installed outdoors. Heated and waterproof cabinets can be used. There a number of outdoor cabinets that will protect your AED from dust and moisture damage, ensuring your life-saving equipment is available and safe to use when you need it most.
Can all employees access the AED? Not only do you need to consider secure areas which not everyone can access, but you also need to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
Placement should be highly visible, and preferably close to first aid or security stations. Fire, safety, and medical personnel are often the primary source of responders.
The availability of personnel trained in the deployment of AEDs and SCA response greatly increases the effectiveness of an AED program. Regular training, refreshment courses, and keeping up with new updates is essential, as well as training other volunteers from the workforce. The ideal aim, in the event of an SCA, would be for multiple trained responders to arrive at the scene of the incident within the 3 minute Drop To Shock window. Company-wide awareness of the program should be encouraged, with newsletters, posters, calls for volunteers, and always reinforcing the company’s commitment to its employee’s safety. New hires can be briefed on the program as part of the company’s health and safety induction.
Your AED program should include a timetable for regular checking and routine maintenance. Always follow manufacturers and suppliers recommendations, and make use of after-sales services from your supplier, who can also assist in monitoring your AED program as well as your equipment and accessories.
Corporate and Individual Liability
Every US state has a version of the Good Samaritan law, and some have extra provisions for the owners and users of an AED. This is to reduce the hesitation in non-medical professionals, or bystanders, who are able to assist, but are concerned about the legal liability of doing so. It is advisable to check the applicable laws in your state. The risks cannot always be eliminated, but they can by controlled with risk assessments, and therefore minimizing the risk of lawsuits. All AEDs require a prescription (Rx) to adhere to FDA Regulations. Establishing a relationship with the local EMS, advising them of the location of the AEDs, and discussing the program will assist in optimizing, and the safe implementation of the AED program, as well as reducing the risks. Annual risk assessments should be conducted, making notes of changes in the workplace.
Legal fears and concerns should not deter from the implementation of an effective AED program in the workplace. Taking the time to carefully consider your AED installation, and conducting a thorough risk assessment need not be daunting, and the steps above will help guide you to create a healthy and heart safe workplace.
Need more information?
Speak to a member of our team to find out what else you should be looking for in your AED risk assessment.