Health and Safety News

Occupational health and safety news and guidance

First aid in the office: why it’s important

Photo shows a hand holding a metal heartIn the UK alone, there is a killer responsible for the deaths of 140,000 people each year. It is a spree unrivalled by any other in the country.

That killer is Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

The statistic is shocking. It establishes a morbid tone, certainly, but Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) need not take so many lives. There are ways to prevent it. We can intervene.

The Workplace

The office can often seem like a fairly uneventful place. But amidst the lethargic drone of printers and the rhythmic rattle of keyboards, SCA can occur at any moment.

A lot of companies may point out that they have never had an incident of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. That’s good news, but it doesn’t make them invulnerable.

Though buildings might never burn down, it still makes sense to fireproof them as best as possible. Civil engineers spend their lives securing builds that will never burn down; that doesn’t make them unreasonable.

For the same reason, you need to ensure your workforce are equipped to deal with first aid issues in the workplace. According to St John Ambulance, SCA isn’t the only preventable cause of death in the workplace; asphyxiation takes the lives of approximately 25,000 people as well, due to a lack of available first aid.


Training your staff is not a chore that will bore its way into your personal timetable. Organisations like St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross offer comprehensive courses at times that suit you, for a very reasonable fee.

A full first aid training course lasts around three days, with re-qualification programs taking two. For emergency first aid only, courses take only a day to complete.

Experts suggest that low-risk workplaces (offices, shops, libraries) train at least one member of staff per hundred. In higher risk workplaces (food processing, warehouses), the suggested ratio increases to one first aider per fifty employees.


CPR is an effective way of buying time for the emergency services to arrive, but it cannot save an employee who is suffering from SCA.

According to Martek Medical, the chance of survival for someone suffering from cardiac arrest drops by 10% for every minute without defibrillation. Very few survive a period of longer than ten minutes without attempts at resuscitation.

The good news is that the odds of survival in cardiac arrest patients shoots up to nearly 70% when defibrillators are used within the first three minutes of an attack.

You don’t necessarily need to train staff to use Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), but training is recommended. Defibrillation is not covered in a standard First Aid at Work (FAW) course, but AED courses are available. They generally only last around four hours.

Procuring AEDs

AEDs are the best way to overcome this problem in the workplace. They are extremely easy to use, designed to facilitate resuscitation even if the user has little to no prior knowledge of how to use it.

Some employers may be worried that if a defibrillator is used unsuccessfully in their workplace, they may be held liable. In truth, the only cases in which employers have been held accountable for these deaths have been when AEDs have not been supplied in the workplace.

AEDs are available from independent suppliers for varying prices. Some plans cater for leasing the AED, where set payments are made over three to five years; others offer a Hire Purchase plan. Over five years, AEDs work out at little more than £200 per year, a small price to pay to save the lives of your employees.

Author Bio

Kristin Hodgkinson is the digital marketing manager for Direct365 - a facilities management and business products specialist.

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