Emergencies in the Workplace

During a conversation last week with a woman from one of our local companies, I asked her if she had ever taken a first aid or CPR class. She said that she had earned the First Aid badge as a Brownie but, hadn’t attended any classes since then. As this was a casual meeting, she didn’t know that I taught these subjects so, I went out on a limb and asked her if she knew of anyone in her workplace who had been hurt. She thought a moment and then said that yes, last year, one of the managers had a heart attack in the break room and died. After telling her that I was sorry to hear that, I asked her if anyone had helped him and she said that someone had called 911, and a few other people asked about the AED. As it turns out, because her company was small, and they were all office workers, they “didn’t think they needed one.”

Fortunately, these types of stories are now less common than they were just five years ago. Thanks to the official action like the Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000, that made it mandatory to have an AED in every Federal building, and the subsequent passage of laws in every State that addressed issues such as AEDs in public spaces, an expansion of the Good Samaritan protections, and the requirements to have trained responders in certain workplaces, the number of deaths due to cardiac arrest has declined. 

As I think about safety in our workplaces, what strikes me as the single most significant issue is how employers create an environment in which their employees feel valuable. Hiring (and firing), employees is an expensive proposition and turnover is not just a problem in the fast-food industry. First Aid kits AEDs, and offering training are more than just ways to lower liability premiums - they are expressions of value.