Is your site safe for older workers?

Mark Gilmore

IT’S widely recognised that older workers are crucial to curbing the construction industry skills gap, as reported by CIOB, but an ageing workforce can add pressure in other areas – such as health and safety. This highlights key issues for employers who need to ensure they are fully resourced to offer safe, secure environments for their workers. For example, older people are more at risk of a  heart attack, yet there is still a lack of awareness surrounding the importance of defibrillators and how to use them correctly. Mark Gilmore, managing director at Aero Healthcare, a provider of first aid consumables and medical devices, discusses how safety considerations can increase the chance of survival for people suffering cardiac arrests

EVERY year more than seven million people globally suffer from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) with no warning. And only five to 10% of those affected actually survive.

In addition, 84% of SCA events occur outside of a healthcare setting – meaning they happen in public areas and in work environments.

So what can you do to ensure your workplace is fully equipped to deal with someone that is struck by an SCA?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest – what you need to know

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is when the heart enters a chaotic rhythm. It usually results from a disturbance in your heart that disrupts its pumping action, stopping the blood flow to the rest of your body.

And, it’s a medical emergency that if not treated immediately, can cause Sudden Cardiac Death.

The symptoms of an SCA are immediate and include:

• Sudden collapse

• No pulse

• No breathing

• Loss of consciousness

In addition, for construction professionals it’s useful to bear in mind that high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, being male, and ageing can increase the likelihood of an SCA occuring.

The power of defibrillation

In the case of an SCA, the first thing you should do is alert the emergency services, as it is a medical emergency that can lead to death.

However, the average response time for emergency services is around eight to 10 minutes, and every minute that passes without defibrillation reduces survival rate by seven to 10%, so having an accessible Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can determine whether the sufferer survives or dies.

Whilst the importance of defibrillation is widely recognised, the way they are used and maintained isn’t.

Invest in team training

Contrary to popular belief, defibrillators can be used by everyone – not just a healthcare professional.

And today, many devices feature clear, simple voice and visual prompts, which guide users on what to do.

In addition, it’s useful to ensure your team members are confident handling and operating the devices – so when you procure a defibrillator see if the supplier offers training options.

Expiration dates

The batteries and pads in your defibrillator are the key functions that send the shock to the SCA sufferer.

Both the pads and batteries will have expiration dates, so it’s essential that you keep an eye on when they’ll need replacing. And, pads are single-use, so if they are used in an event of an SCA – they will need to be replaced.

So, to have complete confidence that your workforce is protected in the worse case scenario it’s crucial to have a defibrillator in an accessible location as it could help save a life.