A global campaign to raise awareness and educate people about arrhythmias in the workplace, or abnormal heart rhythms is under way. Arrhythmias can affect anyone, at any age, and can lead to serious consequences such as cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating effectively and blood stops flowing to vital organs. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate action to save a life.
One of the most effective ways to treat cardiac arrest is by using a defibrillator, a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm. Defibrillators can be found in many public places, such as airports, shopping centres, train stations and sports venues. But what about workplaces? Should employers provide defibrillators for their staff and visitors?
In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of having defibrillators in the workplace, answer some common questions and dispel some myths about these life-saving devices.
Why are defibrillators important in the workplace?
According to the British Heart Foundation, around 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year in the UK. That means someone could have a cardiac arrest at work, during their commute, or while visiting a business. The chances of survival from cardiac arrest are very low, around 10%, but they can be increased significantly if a defibrillator is used within 5 minutes of collapse. Studies have shown that survival rates can be as high as 50-70% when a defibrillator is used promptly and correctly.
Having a defibrillator in the workplace can make a huge difference in saving someone's life. It can also show that employers care about their employees' health and safety, and that they are prepared for any emergency situation. Defibrillators can also boost staff morale and confidence, as they can learn how to use them and perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) through training courses.
Are defibrillators mandatory in the workplace?
There is no legal requirement for employers to provide defibrillators in the workplace in the UK. However, there are strong recommendations from various organisations, such as the British Heart Foundation, the Resuscitation Council UK and the Health and Safety Executive, that encourage employers to consider installing defibrillators in their premises. They also advise employers to conduct a risk assessment to determine the need for defibrillators based on factors such as:
- The number of employees and visitors
- The age and health profile of employees and visitors
- The type and location of work activities
- The distance and accessibility to emergency services
- The availability and cost of defibrillators
Some industries may have a higher risk of cardiac arrest than others, such as construction, manufacturing, mining or transport. In these cases, having a defibrillator on site may be more essential than in other sectors.
How do defibrillators work?
Defibrillators are designed to be easy to use by anyone, even without prior training or experience. They are also known as automated external defibrillators (AEDs), because they automatically analyse the heart rhythm and deliver a shock if needed. AEDs have clear voice and visual instructions that guide the user through the steps of using them.
The basic steps of using an AED are:
- Call 999 or 112 for emergency help
- Check if the person is breathing normally and start CPR if not
- Turn on the AED and follow its instructions
- Attach the electrode pads to the person's chest
- Stand clear while the AED checks the heart rhythm
- Press the shock button if advised by the AED
- Continue CPR until help arrives or the person shows signs of life
Some common myths about defibrillators are:
- You need to be trained to use them: No, anyone can use an AED by following its instructions. However, training can increase confidence and competence in using them.
- You can harm someone by using them: No, AEDs are very safe and will only deliver a shock if it is necessary. You cannot shock someone who has a normal heart rhythm or who is conscious.
- You can be sued for using them: No, you are protected by the Good Samaritan law, which states that you cannot be held liable for any harm or injury caused by your actions if you act in good faith and without
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