Workplace SCA incidents can be difficult to track. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) undertook a study as part of an upgrade to its reporting and governance framework in 2015. According to the report, they estimated that serious worker incidents involving inpatient hospitalisation and fatalities were under-reported by as much as 50% , with late reporting being nearly universal.
The report identified that there were several factors in under-reporting, ranging from the simple but relatively rare incidence of criminal non-compliance, to the far more common phenomenon of workers being unaware of reporting requirements or, more frequently, unclear about what exactly constituted a strictly reportable incident .
It is therefore important to remember that the absolute figures derived from statistical analysis of SCA incidence in the workplace need to be adjusted upward when conducting risk assessment.
This aside, the proportion of workplace incidents of cardiac arrest is significant. Safe Work Australia does not, in fact, record deaths from natural causes, including cardiac arrest, but figures can be confidently derived from meta-analysis of Ambulance NSW statistics. According to Australian Hearts:
“NSW data from 2012 shows that for cardiac arrest calls to Ambulance NSW some 59% were deceased when the ambulance arrived. Approximately a third of calls occurring during working hours and 25% were from a workplace.”
These figures indicate that a significant proportion of cardiac arrest deaths occur in the workplace, which means that employers and safety professionals should calculate for what might constitute a reasonable chance of such an event occurring within their work environment.