Benefits, Training

Why Should Employers Provide Medical Emergency Training?

When considering what training to provide to employees, usually the focus is on employee development. But one area more and more employers are considering is how to ensure employees are able to react appropriately if a medical emergency occurs on the job.

Here are some reasons employers may want to consider providing medical emergency training:

  • It can help employees to respond more quickly in an emergency—which could end up saving a life, especially in the event of cardiac arrest.
  • It can create a greater sense of responsibility toward one another, which can result in quicker action when an emergency occurs. Fewer people will feel that they cannot help or don’t know what to do so, a trained employee may be quicker to act.
  • If an accident or emergency occurs, and the severity of the injury can be minimized by trained employees, this could reduce employee time away from work, which benefits everyone.
  • Employees may appreciate the training, and it can be applied across other areas of their life as well.
  • Many employees assume that someone else knows such things and will respond if the need arises, resulting in a false sense of security if there are not actually trained people.
  • Implementing such training can highlight the employer’s dedication to safety and employee wellness.
  • It can help employees to become more aware of safety issues in general.
  • It can be an integral part of a larger safety program; one component of an emergency-preparedness plan.
  • It can help employees to recognize a medical emergency that may not otherwise be obvious, thus enabling them to take action sooner and help minimize the negative impact (again, possibly saving a life).
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) already requires employers to try to administer first aid; by having more employees trained in such, it can help the employer to administer it sooner and more effectively.
  • In some roles, some types of medical emergency training may be legally mandated. (See OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151 for details on what type of training may be mandated for you. This standard requires that an employer provide access to medical care and ensure that medical personnel are available in a timely manner—if no other medical personnel are available in close enough proximity to the workplace, that may mean that the employer must train such people internally[i].)
  • The training the employees receive could end up helping the customers as well.
  • An employer doesn’t want a well-meaning employee who is not trained to inadvertently make a situation worse. Training on how to react could avoid such an issue.
  • Proper handling of emergency situations can bolster employee (and public) confidence in an organization.

What types of training could employers consider?

If you’re considering offering medical emergency training to employees, there are several common options:

  • CPR (possibly including training on automated external defibrillator (AED) use)
  • Emergency first-aid
  • Heimlich maneuver
  • General safety
  • Bloodborne pathogen standards
  • Other training that is particularly relevant for your industry
  • Training on how lifestyle changes can impact the likelihood of experiencing a medical emergency

If the employer cannot afford to offer free training to all employees, there are still other options. For example, the employer could sponsor a trainer to come on-site and offer training to employees who voluntarily attend. Or the employer could provide a discount voucher. Or the employer could pay for specific employees to get full training and designate those employees as being responsible for first medical response when applicable. Some organizations, such as the Red Cross or local fire departments, may have free information that can be distributed to employees.

[i] https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=9806&p_table=STANDARDS

See also: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3088.html