AED Requirements in the Workplace: Are They Mandatory?


An automated external defibrillator is a life-saving device in the treatment of cardiac arrests but what are the AED requirements in the workplace?

356,000 deaths are caused by sudden cardiac arrest every year. Because many of these deaths occur in public, AEDs are recommended for use in all public areas, stores and businesses. As a business owner, do you know your state’s AED requirements?

Understanding the Importance of an AED For Your Business

A properly placed AED can save lives. The early use of an AED has been shown to double the survival rate for someone in a cardiac emergency. When used properly, the AED can stop deadly Sudden Cardiac Arrest.


What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is an imbalance in the heart that causes the heart to stop beating and the victim to collapse. The biggest causes of cardiac arrest are Ventricular Fibrillation and Ventricular Tachycardia. It is estimated that one person dies from Sudden Cardiac Arrest every 90 seconds.

Ventricular arrhythmias do not allow the heart to fully circulate blood throughout the body. Someone suffering from a ventricular arrhythmia is at a very high risk of death.

Ventricular tachycardia is a very fast heartbeat. The heart of a person suffering from ventricular tachycardia is beating so rapidly that it can’t pump enough blood to the body.

Ventricular Fibrillation is an electrical disorder of the heart. A heart in ventricular fibrillation is receiving very chaotic signals and has lost the ability to beat normally. A heart in ventricular fibrillation cannot pump any blood at all.

If left untreated, these two disorders will result in Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Death will occur within minutes.

The role of an AED

An AED in the workplace is the best way to protect workers and customers from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. When used properly, the AED can stop deadly heart disturbances like ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation before they lead to death.

The AED delivers electrical shocks to the heart. These shocks can disrupt the deadly, inefficient heartbeats and allow the heart to start beating normally again. It is similar to doing a “hard reset” on a computer or tablet.

The faster the AED is used, the better the chances of survival are for the victim. The keys to using the AED successfully are the ability to recognize that someone is having an emergency and having the equipment within easy reach of trained personnel.

Are AEDs Mandatory?

In 2000, the Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act was signed. It raised awareness of AED use to increase survival rates of Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims. It also provided laws to protect bystanders who attempted to intervene in the case of a medical emergency and ordered Federal buildings to have AEDs on hand.

Each state has its own set of rules, laws and AED requirements. There are no federal guidelines in place regarding AEDs in any business that is not government-sponsored.

As a rule, states may require AEDs for:

  • Schools
  • Dental offices
  • Doctor offices
  • Health clubs
  • Public swimming pools
  • Churches

You may be more at risk for a lawsuit if your business does not provide AEDs or use them properly.

Legalities and AEDs

The main legal risk in using an AED comes from untrained staff using malfunctioning equipment. A business can protect itself by following a few basic guidelines.

Testing the Equipment

The AED must be tested regularly to comply with manufacturing guidelines and AED requirements. This testing can include:

  • Battery checks
  • Volume checks on the equipment
  • Accessory check
  • Equipment is clean and easily accessible

To protect your employees and your business, make sure to keep a written log to prove your staff is maintaining the equipment to industry standards.

Proper Training

All staff must be trained to use the equipment. Classes are offered by the Red Cross and the American Heart Association, but any nationally recognized course is acceptable. These courses offer CPR as part of the AED training.


Run your staff through drills to keep them prepared for an emergency. Ideally, one staff member will activate 911 while another uses the AED equipment. It is helpful to notify your local 911 call center that you have an AED when calling to report a possible cardiac emergency.

Easily Accessible Equipment

The AED should be easily accessible. It is advisable to keep an AED on each floor of your business, and in the same place on each floor. Remember that for the best chances of survival, the AED needs to be used as soon as an emergency is identified.

What Are Good Samaritan Laws?

Good Samaritan Laws are put into place to protect bystanders who attempt to help someone having a medical emergency. States that have Good Samaritan Laws will offer legal protection for anyone who, in good faith, tries to use your AED to intervene in an emergency.

Generally, you are not legally required to help someone in distress but Good Samaritan Laws are set up to help you if you do.

Know your state’s Good Samaritan Laws so you, your customers, and your staff are protected from any potential lawsuit. Check your state laws to understand your local AED requirements.

Should Your Company Provide AEDs?

Ultimately, the decision to provide an AED for workers and customers is up to you and the laws in your state. While you may not be held criminally responsible for not having an on-site AED, you should balance your liability against the negative publicity your business will receive if an AED is needed but not provided.

If you can commit to training your staff and maintaining the equipment, an AED is a great idea for any business. If you don’t think you can comply with the general AED requirements for maintenance and training, you may be better off not getting one. You will be putting yourself at a higher risk for a lawsuit by getting the equipment and not being able to use it properly in an emergency.

Stay tuned for more helpful information on keeping your business healthy and productive.