AEDs (Defibs), The Law & Liability

It’s always a difficult task providing generic legal overviews so let us make it clear upfront, this is not legal advice. It is our view (that we believe a balanced one) on the current status of requiring an AED or not, and whether having one might make you more or less liable OR not having one will make you more or less liable.

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Emergency Law Is A Specialist Field Micahel Eburn Is A Specialist In Emergency Law

Michael Eburn has 3 undergraduate degrees, 2 masters degrees and a doctorate. In addition he has a background in first aid and emergency services having worked with the NSW Ambulance Service, St John’s Ambulance and the SES. He’s also someone who looks at the law objectively and dispassionately and would not be swayed by the influence of someone trying to promote AED (defib) adoption nor an organisation who was trying to avoid having to buy one. He writes an excellent blog and has a number of posts specifically devoted to this topic. You can find his blog here.

To avoid any confusion we do not have a commercial or even an informal relationship with Michael. We have done a great deal of research and Michael’s is by far the most researched, considered and balanced that we have found.

Do You Have To Have An AED (Defib) by Law? Probably Not

There is no current legislation that explicitly mandates AED placement in Australia. As always though, it’s not that straight forward – as typically safety guidelines in Australia are not prescriptive in nature, rather creating a requirement that employers conduct an assessment of what safety equipment is required for their circumstances. Worksafe NSW guidelines (which are largely reflected in other states) then go onto mention that AED’s can be useful for workplace safety and further highlight high risk industries. You can read those guidelines here.

So Can I Assess & Decide An AED Isn’t Necessary? In Short - Yes

Assuming that you are fair about it you could quite reasonably (noting that common industry practice, the number of employees you have and any known hazards and health conditions is important in assessing reasonableness) decide that from a cost-benefit perspective, it isn’t worth buying an AED. And that is fine. Michael Eburn’s view can be found here.

I Am Worried About Liability? Don't - There is No Reason To Be

Again, Michael Eburn covers this extensively. In one post, a retirement village outlined 17 reasons that they weren’t willing to install AEDs and he addressed each of them to the contrary (again, read the post, don’t take my word for it). In summary he described the idea that an organisation could somehow be more liable for investing in an AED as “far-fetched and fanciful” which as best we can tell is a legal term for ridiculous. People claiming that they won’t install an AED for liability reasons irritates us immensely as it is (in our opinion) a rediculous conclusion and promoting this argument prevents people from buying AED’s which in turn costs people their lives. You can read more here.

What About Personal Liability? Can I Hurt Someone And Will I Be Sued?

Firstly, our AEDs will not administer a therapeutic shock unless they can help someone. Further Good Samaritan Legislation exists in every state and territory of Australia to protect the providers of first aid. Michael Eburn’s summary of this legislation can be found here.

These links take you to the appropriate legislation in your state.

Don’t buy an AED (Defib) because you have to Buy One Because You Should - They Save Lives

AEDs (Defibs) save lives and show your team and customers that you care and don’t tell us that you aren’t buying one because you believe it will increase your liability because you are being far-fetched and fanciful!

Some Companies Who've Done a Risk Assessment  And Said Yes To AEDs (Defibs)

Here are some examples of organisations who have completed their risk assessment and decided to install AEDs (Defibs). Note that not all of these companies are our customers – some are

  • DHL in all their locations nationwide
  • F45 Fitness in all their studios nationwide
  • Bunnings in all their warehouses
  • Suncorp in all their bank branches
  • Qantas on all their aircraft
  • Every Stockland Mall