Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a medical device designed to analyze the heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock to victims of ventricular fibrillation to restore the heart rhythm to normal. Ventricular fibrillation is the uncoordinated heart rhythm most often responsible for sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when ventricular fibrillation takes place or when the heart stops beating altogether. Without medical attention, the victim collapses, lose consciousness, becomes unresponsive, and dies. Many victims have no prior history of heart disease and are stricken without warning. 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.
OSHA standards do not specifically address automated external defibrillators (AEDs). However exposures to first-aid hazards are addressed in specific OSHA standards for the general industry.
Saving Sudden Cardiac Arrest Victims in the Workplace: Automated External Defibrillators. 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.