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Do we need defibrillators at work?

Q: What are your views about providing defibrillators in the workplace?

We have about 60 sites, most located within easy reach of GPs and hospitals. Our business is involved in social work and administration. All our sites have first aiders. I am regularly questioned about defibrillator provision and respond from a risk approach.

We feel that the cost of providing the equipment, parts replenishment and staff training would be unreasonable as there has never been an incident requiring their use in 8 years.

A: You are not specifically required to have a defibrillator in your workplace under health and safety legislation.

While the provision of first aid equipment should be tailored to your working environment, generally for some high-risk workplaces, specialised devices such as defibrillators may be required. A workplace that features at least one of the following hazards will be considered high risk:

  • hazardous substances or machinery;
  • working at heights;
  • hazardous work, e.g. demolitions;
  • working in confined spaces;
  • electrical work;
  • work conducted in extreme temperatures; and
  • work that involves a risk of exposure to physical violence e.g. working with convicted criminals.

Although it would appear that you do not operate a high-risk business, you should undertake a risk assessment and if there is a significant risk of cardiac arrest in the workplace, one control to implement may be to make a defibrillator available.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to First aid for current advice.

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