Articles on Safety and Health Issues in the Workplace
Being Prepared for a Medical Emergency in the Workplace Part 1 - First Aid Kit
By Deborah Bright
"So," you ask, "What’s the big deal? Why in the world should I be concerned with being prepared to provide first aid in my shop? For small cuts and bruises, all of us – me, my employees, my customers –are all responsible adults who can manage to apply a bandage without any fancy training. If there’s an incident that results in a serious injury, or someone becomes very ill suddenly, I can just call 911, right? I have more important issues to deal with, and that’s why I pay taxes!"
Maybe you’re right. I’m sure that you have already reviewed the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA) 1910.151 to assure that your shop is in compliance. Maybe being prepared to deal with a medical emergency is not necessary. After all, anyone who was ever a Scout had first aid training - maybe even CPR - when they were kids. We all grew up learning from our moms about first aid. And, again, there’s always 9-1-1.
Even if the fates allow that there is never a life-threatening emergency at your work-place, sooner or later someone is going to have some minor injury. The degree to which your operations will be disrupted depends on the time and energy expended dealing with the injury. If it’s a minor paper-cut or a skinned knee, all you need is soap and water to cleanse the wound, and a band-aid, right? Well, there’s also the paperwork – you’ll have to document the incident to meet any OSHA, Worker’s Compensation, or liability requirements, but that’s a topic for another time.
Being Prepared for a Medical Emergency in the Workplace Part 2 – AED (Automatic External Defibrillator)
By Deborah Bright
If you read my previous article (thank you!), it’s possible that I actually talked you into installing a first aid kit. Here I come again asking you to be prepared, and again you ask, "Now what? If there’s an emergency, I’ll call 9-1-1! I’ll just bet this is going to cost me more money!"
And again, you’re right. You have reviewed the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA) 1910.151 to assure that your shop is in compliance, but suppose, just imagine, someone has a heart attack at your workplace. It could be an employee, a customer, a visitor… it could be you!
Here’s what the American Heart Association has to say about it:
"Coronary heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States."
In a cardiac arrest, time = muscle. Every moment that the heart circulation is compromised is critical. If the victim receives appropriate medical care within the first ‘golden hour’ after the first symptom, there is a good chance of recovery. Sadly, 30% of heart attack victims do not receive appropriate care that quickly.
Being Prepared for a Medical Emergency in the Workplace
Part 3 – Training in First Aid, CPR, AED
By Deborah Bright
If you read the previous articles about first aid kits and AEDs, you already know that your shop is in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA) 1910.151. You have gone above and beyond the requirements by installing first aid kits in strategic locations and even an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in case of a cardiac emergency. You provide all the required safety training and equipment that your workplace could possibly need, so now what does that nagging nurse want you to do? Being trained to deal with a medical emergency is not necessary. After all, all of us former Scouts had first aid training and maybe even CPR when we were kids – and there’s always 9-1-1.
The degree to which your operations will be disrupted by any emergency situation depends on the time and energy required to deal it. Unless you and Fate are really good buddies, you have no control over the health status of your employees, customers, or visitors. A health condition or medication may mean that a simple paper-cut won’t stop bleeding for 15 – 20 minutes or even longer. To prevent me from recounting numerous horror stories, please just trust me that even the most minor injury can eat up a lot of precious time, cutting into your business productivity and bottom-line. I am now proposing that you have at least some of your employees trained in basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of the AED.
As I covered in the second article about AEDs, every year in the U.S. approximately 166,000 people experience a sudden cardiac arrest. Only about 6% of them survive. About one in four (20 – 38%) of these 166,000 cardiac events begins with an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). If VF is treated quickly with CPR and an AED, more than half will survive.