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Defibrillators in the workplace: tips and advice for World Heart Rhythm Week 

Does my business need one? 

June 2022: World Heart Rhythm Week (which runs from 6th-12th June) aims to raise awareness and educate the public and professionals about arrhythmias. This year Direct365 is sharing its expertise on the importance of defibrillators in the workplace, answering common questions and myth-busting misconceptions about the devices. 

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are becoming a common sight in most public places and within the workplace. They have increasingly been in the news and recently the Premier League announced a donation of more than 2,000 defibrillators to grassroots football after Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest on the pitch last year.  

According to the British Heart Foundation, 30,000 people each year suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital. Survival rates are shown to be 50-70% higher in these victims when a defibrillator is used within 5 minutes of collapse. It can be difficult to figure out what you need to know about defibrillators from a business perspective and the legalities surrounding it, but many are starting to recognise the life-saving role of having one placed in their workspaces. That’s why business essentials provider Direct365 have complied a list of questions and answers for business owners’ typical questions surrounding defibrillators in the workplace.  

What is a Defibrillator? 

A defibrillator (also referred to as defib) is a small electrical device that provides a controlled shock to the heart, in the event of a life-threatening arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation. The most common type of defibrillator is the AED (an automated external defibrillator). 

Are defibrillators a legal requirement for businesses in the UK? 

There are no laws in the UK that require employers to provide defibrillators to their employees. However, the British Heart Foundation, and the Resuscitation Council UK all advocate for the use of defibrillators in the workplace to save lives. 

How long do defibrillators last? 

Defibrillators have replaceable parts. It is just the batteries and electrode packs that need replacing. 

Each defibrillator model comes with a stand-by life while it isn’t in use. This ranges between 2-5 years while the unit isn’t in direct use. This doesn’t mean the defibrillator needs replacing, this only means that replacement parts are required. 

Parts required might be electrode pads or a replacement battery. Batteries usually last a maximum of 5 years shelf life. Pads are considerably less, with an average of 2 years shelf life. Pads should be replaced after each use. Batteries have a maximum number of shocks before replacements are needed too. 

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How often should a defibrillator be checked? 

Defibrillators should be frequently checked for power and wear and tear. For battery power, most defibrillators will have a built-in checking system, which alerts the owner as to whether they need to replace the battery. This will be a noise or LED light. Other than this, you should manually check your defib every few weeks.  

This should be checked for damage/theft and whether any new items are needed. Batteries and pads need replacing after a certain time, so it is worth having these in stock in case the need for replacements arises. 

How much does a defibrillator cost in the UK? 

Defibrillator costs vary drastically. There are several options with different types of features. For example, the defibrillators with video screen for instructions are likely to be more expensive than their audio counterparts. Direct365’s defibrillator range spans from £670 to £1000+. Prices are competitive but still high-quality machines. 

Do I need to train staff on how to use one? 

When it comes to training staff on how to use a defib, it’s hard to train people on how they are going to feel and react when placed into a real world scenario of having to use it on someone when required. That being said, the defibs are split into automatic and semi-automatic, for both types the user will take the pads and place them on the patient. Semi autos find the rhythm and will ask the user to push a button if required where as the fully auto will automatically administer the shock.

There is no requirement to train all employees. However, employers are required by law to provide training in the use of work equipment. As a result, if you provide an AED rather than simply having one in a public place nearby, you will need to arrange training.  

In most cases, the 1 Day Emergency First Aid at Work and 3 Day First Aid at Work training courses now include the safe use of an AED in the course syllabus. Of course, double check this. 

Karl Bantleman, Head of Digital at Direct365, said,  

“Business owners are making the decision to bring lifesaving defibrillator devices into their workplace. While there is no law around workplaces having a defibrillator just yet if a workplace is a populated area, then there should be always be an AED nearby and accessible. Now it’s even easier for people to access training to use these devices as they’re usually included in typical workplace first-aid training courses. Our advice would be to prepare your business, save a life, get a defibrillator.”   

More information on defibrillators is available to view here. 

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