Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
Approximately 890 deaths from coronary heart disease occur outside of the hospital or emergency room every day. Most of these deaths are due to the sudden loss of heart function or sudden cardiac death.1 In 2001 and 2002, there were 6628 workplace fatalities reported to OSHA; 1216 from heart attack, 354 from electric shock, and 267 from asphyxia. A number of these victims, up to 60 percent, might have been saved if automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were immediately available. Chances of survival from sudden cardiac death diminish by 7 – 10 percent for each minute without immediate CPR or defibrillation. After 10 minutes, resuscitation rarely succeeds.
An AED is an electronic device designed to deliver an electric shock to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. Ventricular fibrillation may be restored to normal rhythm up to 60 percent of the time if treated promptly with an AED, a procedure called defibrillation.
OSHA does not have standards specific to automated external defibrillators (AEDs). However, exposures to first-aid hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small businesses may contact OSHA's free On-site Consultation services funded by OSHA to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites. To contact free consultation services, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
- Cardiac Arrest and Automated External Defibrillators (PDF*). OSHA Technical Information Bulletin (TIB), (December 17, 2001).
- Saving Sudden Cardiac Arrest Victims in the Workplace: Automated External Defibrillators (PDF). OSHA Publication 3185, (2003). Provides information on the importance of readily-available AEDs, and encourages the installation of the devices in workplaces. Also includes a list of resources for more detailed guidance on the use of AEDs as well as how to obtain qualified training.
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