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  • 4 July 2014
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Defibrillators in the workplace keeping your employees safe

140,000 people a year suffer a cardiac arrest, with 70% of these incidents happening outside of hospitals. Once a cardiac arrest has set in, there is an incredibly short time period to save someone’s life and a defibrillator is key to this survival. In fact, having a defibrillator in your workplace can increase a person’s survival rate from 6% to 74%.

Choosing whether to invest in an automated external defibrillator (AED) device can be a difficult decision to make as a business owner. We have worked to provide you with the right information in order to help you make the best decision for your business and employees.

What is a defibrillator and why do you use one?

Most of us are aware of defibrillators from hospital dramas and documentaries, but very few are used to seeing this piece of equipment in an everyday setting.

A cardiac arrest happens when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. The heart beats in irregular rhythms called arrhythmias, causing the lower chambers of the heart to cease pumping blood around the body.

A defibrillator works by applying an electrical current to the chest wall or heart in order to shock the heart to stop. This then allows the heart to start contracting in a regular rhythm once more. More often than not CPR and a defibrillator are the only things standing between a person suffering from a cardiac arrest and death.

Automated External Defibrillators can be found in a number of places from gyms and leisure centres to offices, cafes and shopping centres. Previously, operating a defibrillator was seen as a role for either a doctor or nurse, but with the development of AED technology, now anyone has the ability to use one in a life threatening situation.

The Law

The law in the UK does not require any business to have an AED on site. However, you can still be found negligent for not providing the correct safety equipment in your place of business.

This means you have to weigh up several factors before you decide whether or not to invest in an AED device:

How high is the likelihood of harm if you do not have one on your premises?

  • The severity of the potential harm
  • The vulnerability of the potential victims

The likelihood of harm will completely depend on the people within your place of business and how likely they are to have a cardiac arrest, whilst the vulnerability of the potential victims will depend on the circumstances of your employees, clients or customers.

It is also important to weigh up industry standards; do similar organisations have AED’s available on their premises? If you find that similar businesses do have AED’s, whilst it is not enforced by law, it may be wise to follow this procedure as an industry standard. This way you are not only protecting yourself and your business from negligence claims, but also keeping your employees and those frequenting your business safe.

It is also important to note that once you have purchased and installed an AED within your premises, the device is then classed as work equipment. The AED will be liable under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. This means that you must keep regular checks of all equipment including circuitry and batteries. You will also be responsible for training your staff on how to use the equipment properly and safely in order to not breach regulations.

How to choose the right equipment

Most companies that provide AED equipment will be able to advise you on which device would be best for your business. It is best to approach a couple and compare the different advice and help each one can offer you.

If you are worried about the expense of buying an AED, most companies will offer monthly payment plans, which will help you to afford to keep your staff, business and customers safe with fewer financial worries. Training is also available from different companies and outlets to ensure you and your staff are comfortable with using an AED.

AED training is also often included in advanced first aid training courses so it could be a wise idea to sign a member of your staff to complete this course to advance their complete first aid knowledge.