Automated External Defibrillators (AED) and the Law

The Law

There is currently no legal obligation to ensure an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available in the workplace. Without common law making units mandatory, workplaces may feel reluctant to invest in an AED. However, there is good reason to consider a purchase if you have not already.

Typically these units retail for around £1000, depending on the make, manufacturer and accessories included. If you have multiple workplace sites this can, admittedly, be a significant cost.

However, landmark case is currently being fought in America. Verdugo v. Target Corporation is going through the California Supreme Court. Mary Ann Verdugo suffered cardiac arrest in a Target shopping store in Pico Rivera, California. She died at the scene, even though paramedics only took a couple of minutes to arrive. The case highlights a retailer’s liability and whether the placement of AED units should be mandatory in common law.

Whilst drawing comparison between American and British law should be treated with caution, it can still be seen as a sign of things to come in the UK. There are now numerous credible statistics to back up an AED’s use.

Some facts when it comes to purchasing an AED:

1. Your workplace risk assessment should form part of your decision to purchase. Do you deal with members of the public? Is there a considerable distance or longer than average response time for emergency services? Do you have an ageing workforce or customer base? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, think carefully about the benefits of ensuring you have a unit in place.

2. The facts about the use of AED units on casualties are irrefutable. For every minute that passes without defibrillation the chance of survival reduces by 14%! This figure is published by the British Heart Foundation.

3. AED units are extremely sophisticated. Simple voice prompts tell the user what to do. The unit will not shock a casualty unless a shock is required. The risk of incorrectly using a unit is minimal to non-existent.

4. AED units tend to come with long warranties, up to 8 years on some units. They also self-check, meaning if any maintenance is required, it will be indicated by the unit and is straightforward. Usually after the initial purchase the cost of owning an AED unit is minimal.

5. AED units can be used by untrained individuals, not just trained first aiders. However, training can be provided for non-first aiders to increase the number of people that would have the confidence to pick up a unit in an emergency.

Safety First Aid Training are strong advocates of having AED units in the workplace. We provide training as part of our first aid courses and specialist defibrillator training courses.

The on-going commitment involved in having one installed is low. As more instances emerge every week of a successful treatment, it is getting harder to justify deciding not to have one in place.

Click here for some more frequently asked questions on AED’s

Click here to look at our defibrillator training course

Click here to browse available AED units