Cardiac Defibrillators in the Workplace: Save Lives While Avoiding Liability

July 2009Newsletters California Update - Third Quarter 2009

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Although health clubs are the only California employers expressly required to have automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) on their premises, an increasing number of employers are voluntarily choosing to provide AEDs as a part of their first-aid programs. Moreover, some employers may need to provide AEDs in order to comply with California General Safety Order 3400, which requires that employers in “isolated locations” make provisions for prompt medical attention in case of serious injuries or illnesses. Federal OSHA guidelines for workplace first-aid programs also recommend that employers consider the implementation of an AED program. These guidelines can be found online at: (pdf file).

Under California law, a “rescuer” who delivers emergency care, in good faith and not for compensation, cannot be held liable for personal injury or death resulting from acts or omissions in rendering the care unless there is gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct in the use of the AED. The state immunity statute also applies to “acquirers” (entities providing AED devices) if they comply with all regulations governing placement of AEDs. These regulations generally address maintenance and testing of the AEDs, reporting requirements, implementation of written procedures, and training of at least one employee for every AED unit acquired. For a comprehensive list of the requirements governing provision of AEDs, see California Health and Safety Code § 1797.196.