Question: What risk issues should we consider if our employees use an automated external defibrillator (AED) while on the job if they are not trained? And what are the implications of them not using it?
Answer: From a general HR standpoint, if an employer has an AED in the workplace, but has not provided the appropriate employee training, the employer may incur risk where an untrained person attempts to use the device but does so incorrectly and causes harm (Good Samaritan laws may or may not protect the individual who uses the device).
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), AEDs are an important lifesaving technology and may have a role to play in treating workplace cardiac arrest (see OSHA resources here and here). Workers can be trained to:
- Recognize sudden cardiac arrest and notify EMS personnel.
- Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- Provide early defibrillation with an AED.
- Care for the victim until emergency medical personnel arrive.
OSHA also provides a helpful first aid program best practices guide.
It is unclear what the risk is if the device is onsite but the employer fails to use it. Some states have enacted laws related to AEDs in the workplace, and there may be other usage and training laws that a safety expert could outline for installation (including registering the AEDs with local emergency response agencies, as well as Good Samaritan laws).
We recommend reviewing this question with your risk, liability, and workers’ compensation insurance broker and legal counsel, as they likely have better insight into this topic and its risks.