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Osha Encourages Defibrillator Use To Revive Workers With Cardiac Arrest

For Immediate Release - 12/17/2001

Because the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) can save the lives of workers who experience cardiac arrest while on the job, OSHA today encouraged employers to consider making this equipment available in their workplaces.

“AEDs are easy to use and can make the critical difference in reviving individuals who suffer a cardiac crisis,” said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. “Administered within three minutes, the electric shock (defibrillation) restores the normal rhythm to the victim’s heart and can increase survival rates from less than 5 percent to nearly 75 percent. Immediate defibrillation can revive more than 90 percent of victims.”

OSHA has issued a fact card and a technical information bulletin on the use of AEDs, encouraging employers to take advantage of this technology. AEDs are lightweight and run on rechargeable batteries. They are designed to analyze the heart rhythm and automatically indicate when to administer the shock. Each unit costs from $3,000 to $4,500.

Each year 300,000 to 400,000 individuals die from cardiac arrest. Most of these deaths occur outside hospitals. Cardiac arrest is often due to chaotic beating of the heart, which can be restored to normal rhythm if treated promptly with defibrillation. With each minute of delay in defibrillation, 10 percent fewer victims survive.

Placing AEDs in workplaces could significantly increase survival rates. In 1999 and 2000, 815 of 6,339 workplace fatalities reported to OSHA resulted from cardiac arrest. The agency estimates if AEDs helped restore 40 percent of those who suffer a cardiac crisis, as many as 120 lives would be saved each year. Workers involved in shift work, holding high stress jobs, or exposed to certain chemicals or electrical hazards face a higher risk of heart disease and cardiac arrest.

AED’s have proven their value at the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters where they are strategically placed throughout the building. Last Friday, a Labor Department employee collapsed. Co-workers called the DOL Health Unit, and a nurse came and used a nearby AED to treat the victim. The individual was resuscitated, sent to the hospital and is now recuperating following heart surgery.

The new OSHA fact card and technical information bulletin are available on OSHA’s website at {AED Card} and {Technical Information Bulletin - PDF}, and through the agency’s publications office at 1-800-321-OSHA. (Note: The purpose of these materials is for information only and does not impose and is not intended to result in the imposition of any new legal obligations or constraints on employers.)

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The text of this news release is available on the OSHA website at Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.