Sheer Heart Attack - Defibrillators in the Workplace
Here in the construction industry we’re all well aware of just how important health and safety in the workplace is – after all, we work in one of the most dangerous industries, especially those of us who work at height using ladders and other access equipment. First aid training is essential for any business operating in construction and keeping up to date with first aid procedures is achieved by attending regular refresher courses.
First aid training providers here in the UK are currently updating their syllabuses in order to take into account new official guidelines on resuscitation after a medical emergency so today we’re taking a look at what employers need to know to make sure that the first aid providers on their workforce are kept fully informed on current practice.
In 2015 the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) issued new guidelines on resuscitation in different scenarios, including hospital settings and emergency first aid situations. The new guidelines (which supersede the 2010 edition) place strong emphasis on early intervention in an emergency and the timely deployment of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The guidelines now recommend that somebody is sent to fetch an AED immediately if there is one available.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has since revised its expectations for the syllabuses for the First Aid at Work (FAW) and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) courses to reflect the new guidelines. According to the HSE all FAW and EFAW courses show now follow the most up to date Resuscitation Council guidelines. All training providers will be required to include t raining on AEDs in courses by the end of 2016. With so many workplaces now featuring AEDs it makes sense to ensure that on-site first aid responders have undergone the requisite training in their use.
The Chancellor’s budget announcement in March of 2016 included the news that £1 million had been set aside to provide defibrillators in public places, including schools, which means that there’s a need to support training in the use of AEDs in order to save more lives.
Cardiac arrest is responsible for thousands of deaths every year here in the UK and it seems that many of the lives lost could have been saved by the early use of a defibrillator. In fact, a casualty’s survival prospect can be dramatically increased if an AED and a trained operator is available at the time of the incident. This means that AEDs are becoming much more common throughout a range of public and work places and we need to ensure that an adequate percentage of the population has the knowledge and competence to decide when and how to use an AED.
While there is no current legislation here in the UK that requires certain businesses or premises to provide an AED, there can be liability in negligence for failing to take appropriate safety precautions on your premises. In fact, two airline companies in the USA have been successfully sued because an AED was not available to treat passengers who suffered cardiac arrest during a flight. This means that we’re likely to see more workplaces in future providing an AED to provide assistance to their workforce and their clients or customers and this will lead to the need for more people trained in the use of AEDs.