• 8 April 2015

Do you need a defibrillator at work?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is one of the leading causes of deaths in the UK. In a new blog for International Workplace, Defibshop explains how defibrillators work and why businesses are investing in them.

Employers, do you need a defibrillator?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in Europe, according to the Resuscitation Council (UK), with around 700,000 individuals affected each year. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that more and more employers are choosing to invest in defibrillators.

How do defibrillators work?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anyone. Although those with previous heart problems are at higher risk, people who are fit, healthy and have no known medical conditions can also be affected.

During SCA, the heart starts to beat irregularly. A defibrillator shocks the heart into restoring its natural rhythm. Every minute without CPR and defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of survival by 10 to 14%, so it is crucial that the equipment is within close proximity.

Automated External Defibrillators (AED) do most of the important work for a person – you will only need to connect the electrode pads to the patient’s bare chest, perform CPR and push a button if instructed to do so by the device.

There are two different types of defibrillator: fully-automatic and semi-automatic. A fully-automatic defibrillator will do everything for you, whereas a semi-automatic defibrillator requires you to press a button to activate it.

When the electrode pads are placed on the patient, the AED will analyse the heart’s natural rhythm. If a shock is required, the defibrillator will power up and release it through the electrode pads to the chest wall or heart. The defibrillator will then assess whether the patient needs to be shocked again.

Defibrillators in the workplace

In the UK, 5% of all Sudden Cardiac Arrests happen in the workplace. However, more than half of businesses in Britain still do not have a defibrillator, which raises the question: why?

Employers who have chosen to install a defibrillator within their workplace have done so in order to invest in their employees’ health and safety, and save lives. Yet, as there are currently no laws that require employers to have the equipment, many staff members struggle to get the purchase of one approved by their management.

While having a defibrillator is not a legal requirement, it is important to consider the devastating effect that not having one could have. According to the NHS, life threatening calls get responded to within eight minutes, which can be a fatal amount of time in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest as oxygenated blood may have stopped reaching the brain and other vital organs.

As defibrillators are so simple to use, having one accessible can make a big difference as to whether someone suffering from SCA survives. 

Looking at the bigger picture

Although the amount of employers choosing to invest in the equipment is increasing, there still aren’t enough accessible defibrillators in workplaces. As the number of sudden cardiac deaths remains high, it is just as important as ever that business’ protect their staff by investing in defibrillators.

You pay to train your staff in first aid, so why not provide a device that could also save their lives?


This piece is an adaptation of Defibshop's How a Defibrillator Saves a Life infographic, which can be viewed in full here.