AED signage alerts bystanders that lifesaving equipment is available. It can help reduce response times in an emergency and satisfy the requirements of an AED program. But what does the law have to say about it?
AED signage requirements vary from state to state. But before we get into the specifics, we must note that these signs are important regardless of whether your state requires them.
Federal AED Signage Requirements
There are no federally mandated signage requirements for AEDs. Even OSHA doesn’t regulate AEDs in the workplace (though the organization does recommend them). These devices are regulated by the state, but there are some general guidelines that apply nationwide.
AED programs exist in all 50 states in facilities like churches, schools, offices, health clubs, and hotels. Most states mandate that AEDs must be maintained according to the guidelines established by the manufacturer and the American Heart Association (AHA). This is important because the AHA addresses signage in its AED guidelines:
After initial implementation of the AED program, provide information to all employees at your company about the AED program. You may want to use internal newsletters, posters, magnets, signage or other means to promote your AED program and identify where the devices are located. By continually raising awareness of the program, you reinforce to employees that your company or organization is committed to their safety.
While these are just general guidelines, they may be treated as legally binding in states that require AHA compliance for AEDs.
State-by-State AED Signage Requirements
Most U.S. states have no statutes on the books that address AED signage by name. But if you read the fine print, most states have an implied requirement that necessitates signage. For example, Section 403.51 of the Minnesota Statutes states that the owner of an AED must develop an emergency response plan for the facility.
This type of plan requires the organizer to take steps to mitigate risk and assemble the necessary resources to minimize loss. This means that the defibrillator should be visible and identifiable during an emergency. The federal government’s definition of an emergency response plan includes the posting of appropriate signs.
Minnesota is just one of many states that require an emergency preparedness plan or an AHA-compliant AED program. You should make signage a priority no matter where you live.
And while most states make no specific mention of AED signage, there are a few that do address the matter.
The Golden State has some of the most specific requirements pertaining to AED signage. According to § 1797.196 of the state’s Health and Safety Code, public building owners must post written instructions next to each AED in at least 14-point type. An AED wall poster may satisfy this requirement.
Though it’s not a legal requirement, the New Hampshire Department of Safety recommends posting “AED On-Site” signage to signify locations where a defibrillator is present.
New York doesn’t mandate the posting of signage near the AED itself. However, the state does require signs to be posted at the main entrance of any public facility where defibrillators are present. According to PBH § 3000-b of New York Consolidated Laws:
The public access defibrillation provider shall post a sign or notice at the main entrance to the facility or building in which the automated external defibrillator is stored, indicating the location where any such automated external defibrillator is stored or maintained in such building or facility on a regular basis.
The Oregon Health Authority classifies AEDs under the category of lifesaving equipment. These devices must be mounted “in a conspicuous place where it is readily accessible and used only for its intended purpose.” This requirement applies to pools, camps, health clubs, colleges, schools, and large-occupancy environments. Although the language is a bit ambiguous, the terms “conspicuous” and “readily accessible” may imply the need for signage.
Under Pennsylvania Statutes, 73 P. S. § 2174, at least one sign must be posted “in plain view by each automated external defibrillator.” A publicly mounted AED cabinet may provide sufficient signage on its own if it’s clearly labeled “AED.” If the cabinet uses small print or the words are hard to read from a distance, you may still need additional signage to ensure visibility.
General AED Signage Recommendations
There are a few best practices that can help to ensure that your signs are both effective and compliant:
- Start by selecting a central, visible area for your AED—an area where a person is most likely to suffer a cardiac episode. This may be a central or high-traffic area of the facility. Be sure that the AED can be reached within a 1 minute one-way brisk walking pace, to ensure the 3-5 minute ‘drop to shock’ time frame recommended by the American Heart Association. Ensure that there are no obstructions that would make your AED or signage less visible from any angle.
- Mount your AED cabinet no more than 48 inches above the floor to ensure that it’s visible from a distance yet still accessible to all responders. All adjacent signage will go above or alongside this cabinet.
- Place AED signs close to the defibrillator. You’ll want a 3-D wall sign above the cabinet and an informative wall poster beside the device to educate lay responders in an emergency.
- Post any additional signs as required by state law. For instance, in New York, you’ll need to post an AED decal or other signage at the entrance of your public facility. Refer to the state-by-state requirements above.
Now is the time to stock up on AED signage. It will help you to remain compliant, and it may just help to save a life one day.