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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.

This page is a product of the OSHA and the American Heart Association (AHA) and the former OSHA and American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc. (AAOHN) Alliances.

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.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights standards, Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), directives (instructions for compliance officers), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to AEDs.

Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Federal Registers


  • Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens. CPL 02-02-069 [CPL 2-2.69], (2001, November 27). Employers will not be cited if they have not offered the hepatitis B vaccination series to an employee whose only exposure to blood would be responding to injuries resulting from workplace incidents as long as this was only a collateral duty of the employee and certain other requirements have been met. Members of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Team would also fall under this category if the same conditions exist.

  • Search all available directives.

Standard Interpretations

AEDs in the Workplace

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are an important lifesaving technology and may have a role to play in treating workplace cardiac arrest. Most sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of the hospital. It is estimated that 5 percent or less of victims of sudden cardiac deaths are successfully resuscitated and discharged alive from the hospital.2 In a study of Public-Access Defibrillation (PAD), communities with volunteers trained in CPR and the use of AEDs had twice as many victims survive compared to communities with volunteers trained only in CPR.3 To assist in addressing AED issues, information is provided below regarding occupational risk factors and the use of AEDs in the workplace.

AED Programs

Public access defibrillation programs that place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in areas where cardiac arrests may occur can reduce the response time up to three to five minutes. The following references provide information for establishing an effective AED program in the workplace.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages


Emergency medical service teams typically respond to cardiac arrest where early defibrillation improves survival. In order to respond more rapidly to cardiac arrest, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have been developed which may be used by trained people. Training resources are provided below.

  • Quiz - Save a Co-Worker's Life. American Red Cross.

  • CPR. American Heart Association (AHA). Provides links to training topics including training courses, international programs, and instructor information.

  • First Aid, CPR, and AED. American Red Cross. Offers first aid and CPR course programs for the community, workplace, and professional rescuers.

  • First Aid Training Programs. National Safety Council (NSC). Serves as a tool for training employees or the general public on the latest skills, techniques, and expertise in life-saving procedures offering emergency care, standard first aid, CPR, and AED Instructor-led classroom courses.

Safety and Health Success Stories

The following is an account submitted to OSHA, or that was based on information obtained by OSHA from secondary sources, where the employer implemented programs or utilized best practices and reported successful results.

Other Resources


1. Sudden Cardiac Death. American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Position.

2. Culley L., et al. "Public Access Defibrillation in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Community-Based Study." Circulation Online (2004, March 15). Also available in Print, Circulation (2004, April):1859-1863.

3. Hallstrom, A. and J. Ornato. "Public-Access-Defibrillation and Survival after Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest." New England Journal of Medicine351.7(2004, August 12): 637-646.

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