Automated external defibrillators (AEDs), are electronic medical devices used to deliver an electric shock to restore heart rhythm for victims of sudden cardiac arrest caused by ventricular fibrillation. The heart stops during a sudden cardiac arrest and the minutes following are critical. OSHA estimates that waiting for emergency medical systems or personnel to arrival results in 5-7% survival but having access to an AED can dramatically improve survival odds. Although OSHA has no specific requirements for AEDs in the workplace, the agency does urge employers to consider installing them.

Best Practices for AEDs in the Workplace

AEDs can be beneficial for employees, facility visitors, and workplaces open to the public. According to OSHA's publication on best practices in first aid, all worksites are potential candidates for AEDs because sudden cardiac arrests can happen anywhere and must be addressed promptly. In addition to heart attacks, SCAs can be caused by electrocution and asphyxiation, a common hazard when working in a confined space. Each workplace should evaluate its needs and decide if an AED is a beneficial addition to the first-aid response plan.

OSHA recommends installing AEDs in locations that are conveniently and quickly accessible, areas where many employees are working closely together, near confined spaces, and wherever electric-powered devices are used. If an AED device is in a facility, workers must be adequately trained to notify EMS after a sudden cardiac arrest, perform CPR, provide early defibrillation with an AED, and care for the victim until emergency personnel arrives.

Anyone, no matter if they've been in the facility a hundred times or one time, should be able to locate the AED equipment quickly. The moments after a sudden cardiac arrest can be chaotic and having the additional visual communication can be a great help in the case of an emergency. In addition to using wall signs with the universally-recognized AED symbol, consider posting way-find signs and laying down floor signs that are large and easy to see.

If you have decided to set up a worksite AED program you will need to make sure all of your bases are covered. This includes physician oversight, compliance with local, state, and federal regulations, coordination with local emergency medical services, periodic reviews and evaluations, training, and a quality assurance program.

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