Does your workplace need a defibrillator?


Does your workplace need a defibrillator?

What rules and regulations are there regarding defibrillators in the workplace? Gaby Grammeno explains.

What rules and requirements are there regarding defibrillators in the workplace?

This question was recently sent to our Ask an Expert service.

Q If we have a debrillator at our workplace, are there any specific requirements or compliance issues we need to be aware of?

A Whether there is a need for a defibrillator in a workplace depends on the type of working environment and the nature of the risks that are foreseeable in that environment. 

In a workplace where there is a foreseeable risk of sudden cardiac arrest, such as a hospital, clinic or other medical facility, a defibrillator would generally be a standard item of equipment. It may also be advisable to have a defibrillator in a professional sports, health and fitness facility, or in a workplace where there is a significant risk of electrocution.

In other types of workplaces where the risk of sudden cardiac arrest is not reasonably foreseeable, a defibrillator may well be surplus to needs.

Legal requirements

The relevant legal requirements are the first aid provisions in work health and safety legislation. These specify that first aid arrangements must be suitable and adequate for the type of work and the nature of the work site, including matters such as shift systems, locations and the number of workers and others at the workplace.

If there is doubt and uncertainty about the likelihood of the risk, a risk assessment can be undertaken to assess the need for a defibrillator in your workplace. The risk assessment should take into account the specific circumstances in which the need for a defibrillator may arise (eg high usage by the general public, or a risk of electrocution).

The Model First Aid Code of Practice (Section 3.3) notes that ‘providing an automated external defibrillator can reduce the risk of fatality from cardiac arrest. It is a useful addition for workplaces where there is a risk of electrocution or where there are large numbers of members of the public. Automated external defibrillators are designed to be used by trained or untrained persons. They should be located in an area that is clearly visible, accessible and not exposed to extreme temperatures. They should be clearly signed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications’.

If you do decide to install a defibrillator at your workplace, staff should be trained in its use (even though defibrillators may be used by untrained people).

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