Today’s correspondent lives

… in an area that has a body corporate (QLD). The community has been pushing for AEDs to be provided for the use of the community however the body corporate are unwilling to do so for fear of litigation / being sued. They have not provided any specific examples of their concerns. They have commented that their insurance would not cover any aspect of the use of an AED and as such are not willing to provide these. I have recommended the units be installed in public locations in the estate (Recreation clubs with pools etc)

Can you please provide details of any possible legal implications for the body corporate and your opinion on the body corporate not installing these devices.

I’m not quite sure what is meant by ‘an area that has a body corporate’ but I assume it’s some form of community operating under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld).   We don’t need to go into the details of that scheme to answer the question.  We need only infer that the Body Corporate is responsible for the management of the estate and presumably the ‘public locations’.

Without more information we cannot determine whether the Body Corporate is a PCBU for the purposes of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld). If there are no employees, it is not a PCBU (Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) s 5(7)). Even if it is not a PCBU guidance of what might be a reasonable response to a risk can be found in the WHS legislation.

Even if it is not a PCBU the body corporate is, I infer the occupier of some parts of the community, eg the ‘recreation clubs with pools’ etc.   As an occupier the body corporate will owe a duty of care to those lawfully on the property as will the owners of the community.   A person conducting a business or undertaking (a PCBU) is required to have in place emergency and first aid procedures that reflect the risk of emergencies in the workplace and an occupier would have a similar expectation, noting that the risks may be different ina  workplace as opposed to a community centre.  Where there is a swimming pool the body corporate will need to have pool fencing and a compliant CPR sign (Queensland Building and Construction Commission Pool Safety (accessed 17 September 2019).  The CPR signs must comply with Australian Resuscitation Council Guidelines and must, therefore, refer to the use of a defibrillator (see Queensland Building and Construction Commission  Requirements for CPR and warning signs (accessed 17 September 2019)).

That does not mean AED’s are compulsory but any one managing property should at least think about installing an AED.

If one does install an AED what is the risk of liability?  The answer is ‘nil’.  One could only be liable if something done made the situation worse.  AEDs are used on people in cardiac arrest.  They increase the chance of survival. They are designed to be used by anyone, including people without training. They are designed to deliver a therapeutic electric shock when one is required, and to not shock the patient when a shock is not indicated.  Short of dropping the AED on the patient’s head, you cannot hurt a person or make the situation worse.

For related posts see:

At the end of my post Choosing not to install an AED for spurious reasons I said:

It may be reasonable to choose not to install one on a cost-benefit basis, but it can’t be reasonable to choose not to install one for fear that ‘it will give rise to some additional duty of care that could wind up with them getting sued’.  It won’t.

That is still my view.