South-Western - Management  
Automated External Defibrillators in the Workplace
Topic Internal Environment and Culture | Human Resource Management
Key Words AED, OSHA, defibrillator, liability, Good Samaritan laws
News Story

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that 15 percent of workplace deaths are due to sudden cardiac arrest. Since CPR alone is not always effective in such emergencies, many companies are purchasing Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for the workplace. AEDs are portable, lightweight versions of hospital defibrillators that shock a stopped heart into a regular beating pattern. One medical journal noted that 34 percent of companies surveyed had installed an AED, and 66 percent of cardiac arrest victims were successfully revived using the device.

AEDs are an immediate form of treatment for cardiac arrest, which is significant considering the average response time for emergency medical services is approximately 12 minutes, especially in congested cities. A victim's chance for survival is reduced by 10 percent for each minute defibrillation is delayed.

Some employers may worry about liability issues when using an AED; however, the reverse is often the case. Companies without such equipment may be at greater risk for potential lawsuits. Additionally, there are numerous Good Samaritan laws that protect qualified AED users against liability.

The price for an AED may be an issue for smaller companies. AEDs can cost anywhere from $1,300 to $2,300, which does not include service maintenance. Employees who are designated to use an AED must be properly trained and complete a yearly certification program.


As a manager, what concerns would you have about being responsible for using an AED on an employee?


What practical reasons could an HR manager provide an accounting department to purchase an AED?


Why would a company purchase an AED when 911 is available?

Source "Automated External Defibrillators in the Workplace," Society for Human Resource Management, June, 2005.
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