Medical emergencies could take place in the workplace at any time and therefore it is important to be prepared. It is a UK legal requirement to maintain health and safety in the workplace, and this includes conducting medical emergency procedures. Therefore, as an organisation it is essential to train and practice medical emergency procedures with your employees, to ensure that if a medical emergency does occur, everyone is prepared to act appropriately.
Across 2017/18, the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimated that 1.4 million people suffered from work-related illnesses, and 147 workers died at work across 2018/19. These statistics highlight the importance of conducting and preparing for medical emergency procedures in the workplace, as they could save peoples' lives.
What is involved in a medical emergency procedure?
Medical emergency procedures have three fundamental aspects:
- Check: Check over the injured individual to assess what type of medical emergency they have encountered.
- Call: Call 999 so that emergency life support and help will arrive as soon as possible.
- Care: The designated first aiders in the workplace should provide the relevant medical emergency procedure.
For example, if a colleague has collapsed and appears to be unconscious and not breathing, they will require CPR. The first aiders in the workplace will be trained to deliver CPR. CPR is usually a repeat cycle of thirty compressions, with two rescue breaths. This should be continued until further help has arrived.
Having a defibrillator in your workplace is not a legal requirement in the UK. However, defibrillators have recently saved the lives of many people who could otherwise have experienced fatal consequences. Having a defibrillator in the workplace is becoming more and more important.
Medical emergencies could include:
- Cardiac arrest
- Continuous bleeding
- Epileptic seizure
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) states that UK employers must report work-related medical incidents to the HSE. After a medical emergency procedure has taken place, the employer needs to ensure the necessary legal steps have been complied with through consulting RIDDOR.
In May 2019, a worker died on a construction site in Birmingham, following the collapse of a wall. The worker was in the process of renovating a property when a wall fell through and trapped him underneath the rubble. Ambulances and paramedics arrived at the scene as soon as possible following an emergency call which was made by a colleague on site.
The West Midlands Police launched an investigation with the UK HSE to investigate why the wall collapsed. This tragic event demonstrates how dangerous some workplaces can be, and therefore knowing how to act in medical emergencies is essential.
Medical emergency procedures in the workplace can appear daunting, but with prior training and knowledge of how to act, it can ensure that everyone is well-prepared to deal with medical emergencies.