AEDs in the Workplace: Benefit or Burden?

From: Society for Human Resource Management

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And about 10,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur while victims are at work, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data.

Placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in the workplace, along with providing a proper management system and training for employees on how to use the devices, can mean the difference between life and death, proponents argue.

But device malfunctions and recalls, myriad legal requirements, and concerns of cost and potential liability have kept some organizations from buying in.

Of the sudden cardiac arrest deaths that occur each year—estimates range from 250,000 to 400,000 deaths—more than 95 percent of the victims die before they reach the hospital. However, AED advocates note that when care is provided within five to seven minutes, including early treatment with an AED, survival rates can improve dramatically. Local emergency medical services typically can’t respond that quickly.

Using a defibrillator on an individual in cardiac arrest increases his survival rate by 60 percent, according to OSHA. “For every minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation, the chances of a cardiac arrest victim’s survival decrease by up to 10 percent,” OSHA said.

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