07/07/2008

Delivering a Shock To Restart the Heart - at Work

Automated External Defibrillators in the Workplace

According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, many ten thousands lives
are lost each year due to cardiac arrest. Defibrillation - shocking the heart -
improves survival rates by up to 30 percent if delivered in the first few
minutes. With each passing minute, the probability of survival declines by 7 to
10%. Making defibrillators easily accessible has the potential to save
thousands of lives.

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a machine that can monitor heart
rhythms and tell if the heart has stopped beating. If required, the machine can
then deliver an electric shock to the heart. Usually this shock will restart
the heart.

Work Safe Alberta issued a Workplace Health and Safety Bulletin supporting the
use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at the work site - provided the
employer ensures that AED use is integrated into the first aid program. It must
also be integrated into the emergency response plan at the site and be able to
be safely used in the work environment.

If the first aid provider is under the supervision of a licensed medical
practitioner, the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons has guidelines
covering responsibilities of the medical practitioner.

Recommendations

In considering authorizing the use of AEDs at a work site, an employer should
assess the specific needs of the work site including;

  • whether AEDs can be safely used (e.g. not in a flammable environment)

  • the population at risk - identify hazards of the workplace that increase risk
    of sudden cardiac arrest

  • existing emergency response procedures/plans and

  • availability of emergency medical services

The employer should ensure AEDs are integrated into the existing emergency
response and first aid programs.

The employer must ensure anyone using an AED is trained on and competent in how
to use the AEDs present at the worksite. There also must be a system to ensure
update of skills and recertification.

The employer should ensure there is a quality assurance program in place that
includes regular maintenance and inspection of equipment, record keeping and
program evaluation.


Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety