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The Importance of AED Programs in the Workplace

As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of your employees. This includes having the proper measures in place to respond to medical emergencies that may arise, such as sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). This is why implementing an automated external defibrillator (AED) program in the workplace is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss everything Canadian employers need to know about AED programs, including how to create and maintain one, and the major benefits of having an AED in the workplace. 

The Benefits of an AED Program in the Workplace

AED programs in the workplace can provide numerous benefits for both employers and employees. First and foremost, having an AED on hand can increase the chances of survival for an individual experiencing SCA. AEDs are designed to deliver a shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm, and when used within the first few minutes after an SCA, they can increase survival rates exponentially.

Implementing an AED program in the workplace can provide several benefits. Here are some of the key advantages:

Saves Lives

The most important benefit of having an AED program in the workplace is that it can save lives. AEDs are proven to be effective in treating sudden cardiac arrest, and the earlier the device is used, the better the chances of survival. Studies have shown that using an AED within the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest can increase survival rates by up to 75%.

Provides Peace of Mind

Knowing that an AED is available in the workplace can provide peace of mind for both employees and employers. In case of a medical emergency, employees can feel more confident and prepared knowing that there is an AED available, and employers can rest assured that they have taken steps to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Improves Workplace Safety Culture

Having an AED program in the workplace can also help to improve the overall safety culture of the workplace. By demonstrating a commitment to employee safety and well-being, employers can create a more positive and engaged workforce.

Compliance with Legal Requirements

Some Canadian provinces have laws that require certain workplaces to have AEDs on hand. For example, Ontario's Bill 141 requires all public buildings to have AEDs. By implementing an AED program in the workplace, employers can ensure that they are in compliance with any relevant laws and regulations.

In addition to potentially saving lives, having an AED program in the workplace can also increase employee morale and job satisfaction. When employees know that their employer values their safety and well-being, they are more likely to feel secure and satisfied in their work environment. Furthermore, having an AED program in place can demonstrate to clients and customers that the company takes its responsibility to the community seriously.

How to Implement an AED Program in the Workplace

Implementing an AED program in the workplace may seem daunting, but it is actually a straightforward process. Here are the steps you need to take:

Step 1: Conduct a Risk Assessment

The first step in implementing an AED program is to conduct a risk assessment to determine the level of risk of sudden cardiac arrest in the workplace. This assessment should consider factors such as the age and health of employees, the type of work being performed, and any other relevant factors.

Step 2: Determine the Number and Placement of AEDs

Based on the results of the risk assessment, you will need to determine the number and placement of AEDs in the workplace. AEDs should be easily accessible and strategically placed in areas where a cardiac arrest is most likely to occur.

Step 3: Train Employees

Once you have installed AEDs in the workplace, it is important to train employees on how to use them. Training should include information on how to recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest, how to operate the AED, and how to perform CPR. AEDs are built to be user friendly and these procedures are more for the comfort of staff members.

Step 4: Create an AED Maintenance Plan

It is important to create a maintenance plan to ensure that your AEDs are always in good working condition. This plan should include regular inspections, testing, and replacement of batteries and pads, that should be recorded in a log book.

Understanding Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in the Workplace

Sudden cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, often without warning. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age or health status, and can lead to brain damage or death if not treated immediately. SCA can occur in the workplace due to a variety of factors, such as stress, underlying medical conditions, or physical exertion.

In Canada, SCA is a leading cause of death, with over 40,000 cases reported annually. This means that it is crucial for Canadian employers to have measures in place to respond to this medical emergency in the workplace.

Addressing Common Concerns About AED Implementation

Despite the numerous benefits of AED programs in the workplace, many employers may have concerns about implementing them. Some of the most common concerns include:

1. Liability

Employers may be concerned about potential legal issues if an AED is used improperly or causes harm to an individual. However, in Canada, the Good Samaritan Act provides legal protection to bystanders who provide emergency assistance, including using an AED. Furthermore, some provinces require AEDs in certain locations, such as Ontario's Bill 141, which requires all public buildings to have AEDs. Your company's legal counsel can advise you about the laws and regulations in your province.

2. Cost

Some employers may be concerned about the cost of implementing an AED program, including the cost of the device, training, and maintenance. However, certain models of AEDs are relatively affordable, with prices ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. Furthermore, the potential benefits of an AED program, including potentially saving lives and increasing employee morale, far outweigh the costs.

3. Provide Training for Employees

Even with intuitive AED designs and clear instructions, training is still important for employees to confidently and effectively use an AED in an emergency situation. Employers should provide training on AED use and CPR to all employees, including refresher courses at least once a year.

The Canadian Red Cross offers AED and CPR training courses across Canada, and many organizations also offer online training options. Employers can also consider bringing in a certified instructor to provide on-site training.

4. Maintenance and Regular Checks

It is important to ensure that AEDs are properly maintained and ready for use at all times. The manufacturer's guidelines should be followed for maintenance and care of the device, including replacing batteries and pads when necessary. Employers should also establish a regular schedule for checking the AEDs to ensure they are functioning properly and are not expired. In addition, companies like AED Advantage offer maintenance programs to their clients that include email reminders for maintenance checks and expiration reminders for parts and batteries.

5. AED Program Evaluation and Continuous Improvement

Once an AED program is implemented, it is important to regularly evaluate its effectiveness and make improvements as necessary. This can include tracking AED usage, analyzing response times, and reviewing the training and maintenance programs. Any issues or concerns should be addressed promptly to ensure the program is running smoothly and effectively.


In conclusion, having an AED program in the workplace is not just an added safety measure, but a necessity for employers who want to ensure the well-being of their employees and customers. By implementing an AED program, employers can take an important step towards providing a safe work environment and potentially saving lives.

Addressing concerns about liability and legal requirements is an important first step in implementing an AED program. Employers should educate themselves on the Good Samaritan Act and any relevant laws and regulations in their province. Having a designated person or team responsible for overseeing the AED program can also help to alleviate concerns and ensure that the program is properly maintained.

In addition, providing education and training for employees is crucial to the success of an AED program. Training sessions should cover topics such as CPR and AED use, as well as how to recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest. By providing this training, employees can feel confident and prepared to respond in an emergency situation.

Regular maintenance checks and evaluations of the AED program are also important to ensure that the devices are functioning properly and are ready for use in an emergency. Employers should establish a schedule for maintenance checks and document them for future reference.

Lastly, it's important to remember that implementing an AED program can make a significant difference in saving lives. 

There have been numerous success stories of AED programs in the workplace, including one from the Vancouver International Airport, where an AED program has been in place since 2002. The airport has reported multiple successful saves due to their AED program, including one incident where a passenger collapsed in the airport and was revived with an AED by airport staff.

These success stories are a testament to the importance of AED programs in the workplace. By taking proactive steps to implement and maintain an AED program, employers can create a safe work environment and potentially save lives.


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