Are defibrillators a liability for SMEs?
While Australian businesses aren’t legally required to have a defibrillator on-site, the equipment has been called ‘essential’ by advocacy groups and can certainly be life-saving – so should brokers be recommending the precautionary measure to their SME clients?
Mandy Cooper, a director at CPR Insurance Services, says there’s been a push in recent years for employers and community groups to install the equipment but warns they do come with a caveat.
“Under the Good Samaritan Laws, laypeople, employers and staff are always exempt from the medical malpractice component – however, if a company does have a defibrillator, then there is an obligation to have a staff member trained and the equipment up to date,” she tells Insurance Business.
“Just like with the testing of your electrical equipment, you have to make sure it’s regularly checked and the maintenance is carried out because there’s no point having one that doesn’t work when you need it and that creates an extra thing for employers to worry about.”
Of course, regular staff training and equipment maintenance comes at a cost – not to mention the price paid by a company to actually purchase and install the defibrillator – so Cooper says companies should weigh up their level of risk.
“It’s a great idea but small businesses don’t have a bottomless pit of money to spend so it comes down to how they can best prioritise their money,” says Cooper.
“If their workforce is 70% over 65 and they’re doing physical work in a factory, then I can understand why they’d want one in there but it’s not the same situation if they’ve got an office full of 20-year-old desk jockeys.”
Importantly, Cooper also says installing a defibrillator won’t have any impact on premiums for business owners and can even create a bigger risk it’s not managed properly.