Did you know? AEDs in the workplace

Date Posted: 02/03/2019

Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs)While many workplaces have automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) part of their first aid program, OSHA standards don’t specifically address AEDs.

An AED is a portable device used to help people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It analyzes the heart’s rhythm and prompts the user to deliver an electrical shock when necessary to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

What are the benefits of an AED program?

The American Heart Association notes that more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital each year, and less than 10 percent of those victims survive. Implementing an AED program and having employees trained to use AEDs could mean the difference between life and death should a cardiac arrest emergency occur.

What's an employer to do?

In its Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid Program, OSHA states, "Each workplace should assess its own requirements for an AED program as part of its first-aid response."

A number of issues should be considered in setting up a worksite AED program: physician's oversight; compliance with local, state, and federal regulations; coordination with local emergency medical services (EMS); a quality assurance program; and a periodic review, among others.

Work factors that may aggravate or contribute to cardiovascular disease are carbon monoxide, carbon disulfide, halogenated hydrocarbons, smoking, extreme heat or cold, stress, and shift work. Electrical hazards may produce cardiac arrest (ventricular fibrillation). Exposure to noise, lead, or arsenic may produce high blood pressure, increasing the risk for heart disease.

What do the regulations say about AEDs?

Numerous state and federal regulations affect the purchase and use of AEDs within the workplace. Because they are medical devices, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees their manufacture. At the state level, various state regulatory agencies oversee the purchase and use of AEDs.

OSHA's Medical Services and First Aid Standard, 29 CFR 1910.151, requires that a person or persons should be adequately trained to render first aid if there's not a hospital or clinic nearby. In that case, anyone trained to render first aid and who is expected to use an AED should be trained on how to use them.

In addition, all 50 states and the District of Columbia include using an AED as part of their Good Samaritan laws. It's important to familiarize yourself with the Good Samaritan Act for your state for specific information regarding immunity for users and purchasers, training requirements, and more.

You may also enjoy the following articles:

Bloodborne pathogens: Making sense of OSHA's requirements

The hierarchy of noise control: PPE is the last resort

Injury and illness recordkeeping: What you don't know can hurt you