AED Inspection

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are crucial life-saving devices increasingly found in workplaces, schools, and public spaces. Given their role in responding to sudden cardiac arrests, it's essential to ensure these devices are always operational and ready to use.



A study showed that around 23% of AED failures are due to expired batteries and pads or poor maintenance. Preventing these lapses can significantly reduce delays in life-saving shocks and improve survival chances.

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are crucial life-saving devices increasingly found in workplaces, schools, and public spaces. Given their role in responding to sudden cardiac arrests, it's essential to ensure these devices are always operational and ready to use. In this comprehensive guide, we cover the key requirements, inspection practices, and industry best practices for maintaining AEDs and ensuring compliance.

Major Causes for AED Failures 

Major causes of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) failures often arise due to maintenance issues, component degradation, or improper usage. Key factors include:

Battery Failure:

  • Depleted Battery: If the battery is not checked or replaced regularly, the AED may fail to power up when needed.
  • Expired Battery: Batteries have a limited shelf life, and using them beyond their expiration date may result in insufficient power during an emergency.

Electrode Pad Issues:

  • Expired Pads: Electrode pads can expire, affecting adhesion and conductivity.
  • Damaged Packaging: Tears or damage to the pad packaging can expose it to contaminants, reducing its effectiveness.
  • Inaccurate Self-Testing:
  • Self-tests might not detect every problem, especially if the AED software is outdated or defective.

Status Indicator Failures:

  • False 'Ready' Indicator: Some devices may incorrectly display a "Ready" status despite internal errors.
  • Unresolved Error Codes: If error codes are not resolved promptly, the AED might malfunction during critical moments.

Firmware Issues:

  • Outdated Firmware: Failure to update AED firmware can lead to compatibility issues or known bugs affecting device reliability.

Environmental Damage:

  • Extreme Temperatures: Excessive heat or cold can degrade batteries and electronic components, leading to failures.
  • Moisture and Corrosion: Exposure to humidity, salt, or chemicals can corrode internal components, impacting functionality.

Lack of Training:

  • Insufficient Training: Improper handling and lack of familiarity can cause incorrect usage or failure to deliver shocks effectively.

Physical Damage:

  • Cracks or Dents: Damage to the exterior can expose internal parts to harmful elements or cause electrical issues.

Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Navigating Federal Regulations for AED Compliance

Food and Drug Administration (FDA): As classified by the FDA, Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are critical medical devices that must adhere to rigorous safety standards. These standards ensure that AEDs function reliably in life-threatening situations. For example, the FDA requires that all AEDs undergo regular maintenance checks to confirm their operational readiness, which includes verifying battery charges and pad functionality before they are deemed ready for public use.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Under OSHA’s general duty clause, employers are mandated to ensure a safe working environment, which encompasses the availability and operational readiness of emergency medical equipment like AEDs. This means having AEDs readily accessible and in good working condition, similar to how fire extinguishers are maintained and inspected.

State and Local Compliance Variations

Regulations can vary significantly from one region to another. For instance, in California, state law requires that all gyms and health facilities are equipped with AEDs, while in New York, recent legislation mandates AEDs in all public schools. Local ordinances may also dictate specific placement, maintenance schedules, and mandatory training for staff, making it essential for AED owners to stay updated on the regulations pertinent to their specific locations.

AED Manufacturer Guidelines

Manufacturers specify maintenance protocols to ensure device efficiency and reliability. These typically include routine checks of the battery life and pad integrity, along with required firmware updates to enhance functionality. For instance, ZOLL AEDs might have different maintenance timelines compared to those from Philips, based on their unique design and operational features.

Documentation Practices

Maintaining a detailed log of all AED inspections and maintenance activities is not just a regulatory requirement but a best practice that helps ensure continuous readiness. This log should document dates of inspections, specific findings, actions taken, and the identification of the inspector, providing a clear maintenance history of the equipment.

Best Practices in AED Maintenance

American Heart Association (AHA): The AHA advocates for rigorous maintenance protocols, recommending that AEDs be inspected monthly and annually to ensure they are ready for use. This includes checking for expiration dates on batteries and pads and ensuring the device's software is up-to-date.

National Safety Council (NSC): The NSC underlines the importance of regular training for individuals likely to use the AED. For example, a school might hold bi-annual training sessions for its staff to practice with the AED unit, ensuring that everyone is confident and prepared to act in case of an emergency.

By following these guidelines and incorporating regular checks into your safety protocols, you can ensure that your AEDs are always prepared to save lives when needed most.

Understanding OSHA Guidelines for AED Compliance in the Workplace

The Significance of OSHA’s General Duty Clause

The General Duty Clause by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compels employers to maintain a workplace that is free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Implementing an AED program is a direct response to this mandate, addressing the critical risk posed by sudden cardiac arrest in the workplace.

OSHA's Recommendations for AED Programs

  • Emergency Preparedness: OSHA advises all employers to incorporate AEDs into their emergency action plans, ensuring that these essential devices are part of the broader strategy to address medical emergencies swiftly and effectively.
  • Training and Education: It is recommended that all employees undergo training in first aid, CPR, and AED usage. This training ensures that staff members are not only familiar with the location and operation of AEDs but are also competent and ready to act during an emergency. For example, a retail store might schedule bi-annual CPR and AED training sessions for new and existing employees, reinforcing their ability to respond to customer emergencies.
  • Workplace Safety Audits: OSHA encourages the inclusion of AED inspections in regular safety audits. This practice helps verify that AEDs are accessible, functional, and ready for use, thus upholding compliance with safety standards.

Integrating AEDs into OSHA Compliance Efforts

  • Risk Assessment: Employers should conduct thorough risk assessments to evaluate the necessity for AEDs. Factors such as the size of the workforce, the physical layout of the facility, and the nature of the work performed can influence the need for and placement of AEDs.
  • Strategic Placement: Ensuring that AEDs are strategically located within a 3-5 minute response time throughout the facility maximizes maintenance checks of AED batteries, pads, and overall device functionality. This proactive approach ensures that AEDs are always ready when needed. 
  • Documentation: Keeping detailed records of all AED maintenance activities, training sessions, and incident responses is essential. These documents serve as proof of compliance and can be invaluable during OSHA inspections or in the event of litigation.

Leveraging OSHA's Resources for AED Programs

OSHA provides several resources to help employers develop effective AED programs. These include:

  • Best Practices Guidelines: Available on OSHA’s website, these guidelines offer strategies for integrating AEDs into workplace safety plans.
  • Consultation Services: OSHA offers free consultation services to small and medium-sized businesses, helping them establish or enhance their AED programs without the risk of penalties.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Neglecting OSHA’s recommendations for AEDs can have severe implications:

  • Fines and Penalties: Failure to adhere to recognized safety standards, including those for emergency preparedness involving AEDs, can result in substantial fines from OSHA.
  • Increased Liability: In the absence of proper AED training and equipment, employers may face increased liability in the event of an employee or visitor suffering from cardiac arrest, potentially leading to costly lawsuits.
  • Impact on Workplace Safety and Morale: Lack of AEDs can affect the overall safety environment, potentially decreasing employee morale and trust in workplace safety protocols.

Comprehensive AED Inspection Checklist 

Maintaining AED functionality is crucial. Here's a comprehensive checklist for regular inspections:

Checklist Item

Details to Inspect

Action Required

Visual Inspection

Check for cracks or dents on the unit. Ensure the storage case is clean and debris-free.

Inspect and clean as necessary.

Electrode Pads

Confirm pads are sealed in their packaging. Verify expiration date.

Replace if opened or expired.

Battery Inspection

Check that the battery is properly installed and secured. Ensure the battery level is adequate. Confirm the battery hasn’t expired.

Replace if improperly installed, nearing depletion, or expired.

Status Indicator

Verify the status indicator shows the device is ready for use.

Address any warning signals or error messages immediately.

Software Updates

Ensure the firmware is up-to-date.

Update firmware as required.

Accessories and Storage

Confirm the AED is accessible and clearly marked. Check for useful accessories like scissors, CPR masks, and gloves.

Ensure easy access and availability of accessories.


Log the inspection date, findings, and the inspector’s name. Update compliance tags indicating inspection dates.

Record details accurately and update tags as needed.

For a detailed approach to AED maintenance, check out our comprehensive AED inspection checklist here.

AED Inspection Frequency and Schedule

Maintaining a regular inspection schedule is crucial for AED readiness:

Daily and Weekly: Quick visual checks for readiness indicators.

Monthly: Comprehensive checks including battery and pad integrity.

Annually: Full device inspection, software updates, and replacement of expiring components.


Additional Considerations

After Use: Replace pads and battery immediately after AED use.

Manufacturer Recommendations: Follow model-specific guidelines.

Environmental Factors: Inspect more frequently in extreme temperatures or humidity.

Mastering AED Inspection Training: Ensuring Lifesaving Device Readiness

To ensure your team is equipped to manage inspections effectively, it's crucial to implement a detailed training program. 

Why AED Inspection Training Matters

  • Proactive Maintenance: Regularly trained inspectors identify defects early, ensuring the AEDs remain functional.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Trained inspectors can ensure that inspection protocols meet regulatory guidelines and avoid penalties.
  • Legal Protection: Proper training helps minimize errors and ensures that inspections are well-documented for liability protection.

Key Components of an AED Inspection Training Program

Device Familiarization:

  • Model-Specific Knowledge: Ensure trainees understand the features and requirements of each AED model in the organization.
  • Basic Functions: Teach how to interpret the status indicators, use control buttons, and follow voice prompts.

Hands-on Practice:

  • Checklists and Tools: Train inspectors to use standardized checklists and necessary tools like AED inspection sheets or digital systems.
  • Simulated Scenarios: Use training AEDs for practice checks, ensuring all trainees are comfortable with the inspection process.

Battery and Electrode Pad Checks:

  • Battery Life Verification: Teach trainees to verify the battery level, status indicators, and expiration dates.
  • Pad Expiration Check: Instruct on how to inspect electrode pads for packaging integrity and replace them if expired or damaged.

Physical Inspection:

  • Housing and Case Integrity: Guide trainees to identify physical damage such as cracks, dents, or corrosion.
  • Accessory Presence: Confirm that all necessary accessories like scissors, CPR masks, and gloves are available and functional.

Self-Testing and Firmware Updates:

  • Self-Tests: Review self-test logs and ensure inspectors know how to interpret error codes.
  • Firmware Updates: Train on how to check and install software updates as per the manufacturer's guidelines.

Documentation and Reporting:

  • Inspection Logs: Instruct trainees on how to accurately complete inspection logs with dates, findings, and actions taken.
  • Tags and Stickers: Teach how to update inspection tags or stickers to reflect current maintenance status.

AED Inspection Training Frequency 

Creating a schedule for AED inspection training helps ensure that your team is well-prepared to handle these critical devices effectively. Here’s an optimal frequency plan for AED inspection training:

Training Type



Initial Training

Upon hiring

Comprehensive training for all new employees on how to perform AED inspections, including hands-on practice and understanding device specifics.

Refresher Training


Annual training to update employees on any new AED guidelines, technology changes, or adjustments in organizational protocols.

Drill Simulations


Conduct realistic drills to practice AED inspection under emergency simulation to reinforce skills and improve response times.

Update Training

As needed

Provide training sessions when new AED models are introduced or when there are significant updates to AED technology or regulations.

This training schedule helps maintain high standards of readiness and compliance, ensuring that your team is capable of inspecting and using AEDs correctly when it matters most.

Utilizing the AED Inspection Sheet

Why Use an Inspection Sheet?

  • Readiness Verification: Verify that the AED is functional and ready to use.
  • Compliance: Demonstrate adherence to safety standards.
  • Liability Protection: Accurate records protect against liability claims.
  • Improved Maintenance: Identify and resolve issues early.

Key Elements of an Inspection Sheet

Inspection Area

Details to Check



General Information

AED Model/Serial Number

Enter the model and serial number of the AED unit

[ ] Complete


Enter the specific location where the AED is stored

[ ] Complete

Inspector Name

Record the name of the inspector

[ ] Complete

Inspection Date

Enter the date of the inspection

[ ] Complete

Visual Inspection

Device Housing

Check for cracks, dents, or other physical damage

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail


Ensure the device is clean and free from debris

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Battery Status

Battery Installation

Confirm if the battery is properly installed

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Battery Expiration Date

Verify that the battery expiration date is in the future

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Battery Level Indicator

Check that the battery status indicator shows "Ready"

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Electrode Pads

Pad Expiration Date

Verify that pads are not expired

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Packaging Integrity

Ensure pads are sealed in their original packaging

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Status Indicator

Status Light

Confirm status indicator is green or shows "Ready"

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Error/Warning Codes

Check for any error or warning codes

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Accessories and Storage

CPR Mask

Confirm the presence of a functional CPR mask

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Scissors and Gloves

Verify that scissors and gloves are available

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

AED Cabinet/Case

Check that the AED storage is marked, accessible, and clean

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail

Software/Firmware Updates

Latest Update

Verify the AED is running the latest software/firmware version

[ ] Pass [ ] Fail


Log Inspection Results

Record the findings and actions taken

[ ] Complete

Service Tag/Sticker

Update tags or stickers with the latest inspection date

[ ] Complete

Next Inspection Date

Schedule the next inspection

[ ] Complete

Annual and Monthly AED Inspection Requirements

To ensure Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are ready for an emergency, both monthly and annual inspections are crucial. These routine checks help guarantee the functionality and compliance of these lifesaving devices.

Monthly AED Inspection Requirements

Monthly inspections are essential for maintaining the operational readiness of AEDs. Here’s what to check:

  • Visual Inspection: Check the AED unit for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure it is clean and the case is free of any obstruction.
  • Electrode Pads: Verify that the pads are sealed and undamaged. Check the expiration dates and replace any that are nearing the end of their shelf life.
  • Battery Check: Ensure the battery is properly installed and the power level is sufficient. Replace batteries that are near the end of their service life or according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule.
  • Status Indicator: Confirm that the AED's status indicator displays a ready/operational signal. Resolve any error messages or warning signals immediately.
  • Accessory Check: Make sure all necessary accessories, such as razors, gloves, and CPR masks, are available and in good condition.

Annual AED Inspection Requirements

Annual inspections delve deeper to assess the AED's long-term reliability and compliance:

  • Full Operational Test: Perform a detailed check of the AED’s operations, which may include a simulated rescue scenario to ensure the device functions as expected.
  • Electrode Pads and Battery Replacement: Replace all electrode pads and batteries that will expire before the next annual check.
  • Software Update: Update the AED’s software to the latest version provided by the manufacturer to ensure optimal performance.
  • Detailed Record Review: Go through maintenance logs to ensure all required maintenance has been performed and documented properly. This is also a good time to review usage logs to understand the AED's history.
  • Training Review: Confirm that all individuals who might use the AED have up-to-date training on CPR and AED use. Schedule refresher courses if necessary.


For both monthly and annual inspections, it’s vital to document:

  • The date of the inspection
  • The name of the person conducting the inspection
  • Any issues found and the corrective actions taken
  • The next scheduled inspection date
  • Proper documentation ensures compliance with safety regulations and can be crucial in the event of a workplace incident. It also supports maintaining the AED’s warranty and can aid in any legal defenses if needed.

Regular inspections, as part of an overall AED program, greatly increase the reliability of these devices and ensure they are ready to save lives when seconds count.

Key Things to Look for in AED Inspections

Battery Status and Life

  • Status Indicator: Confirm "Ready" status.
  • Expiration Date: Check for expiring batteries.
  • Corrosion: Inspect the compartment for corrosion.

Electrode Pads

  • Expiration Date: Ensure pads haven’t expired.
  • Packaging Integrity: Verify airtight packaging.

Device Housing and Status Indicator

  • Physical Integrity: Inspect for cracks, dents, or other damage.
  • Indicator Functionality: Resolve warning messages promptly.

Accessories and Storage

  • Essential Accessories: Ensure CPR masks, scissors, and gloves are included.
  • Signage: Check that signage is visible.

Software and Firmware

  • Latest Firmware: Verify the software version is up-to-date.

Maintenance and Replacement Records

  • Inspection Log: Update the inspection log.
  • Replacement Schedule: Schedule replacements.

AED Replacement Timeline

Battery Replacement: Typically lasts 2-5 years.

Replace immediately if the indicator shows a low battery.

Replace after emergency use.

Electrode Pad Replacement: Expires 2-4 years after manufacture.

Replace if expired or after use.

Software/Firmware Updates: Manufacturers release updates annually.

Perform updates annually or when required.

Device Replacement: Lasts 8-10 years.

Consider replacing devices older than 10 years.

Replace if malfunctioning frequently.

Accessories and Storage: Replace damaged accessories and storage signs.

Best Practices

  • Regular Inspections: Identify when replacements are due.
  • Record Keeping: Track replacement dates.
  • Automated Reminders: Set reminders for replacements.
  • Manufacturer Recommendations: Follow manufacturer guidelines.
  • Budget Planning: Plan a budget for upgrades.

Proactively replacing AED components ensures reliable performance.

Importance of an AED Inspection Log

Why Use an Inspection Log?

  • Compliance Documentation: Logs provide proof of regulatory adherence.
  • Legal Protection: Accurate records reduce liability.
  • Proactive Maintenance: Logs help predict maintenance needs.
  • Efficient Auditing: Facilitate auditing with organized logs.

Key Components

  • General Information: Include model, serial number, and location.
  • Visual Inspection: Record physical housing condition and cleanliness.
  • Battery Status: Note battery status and expiration date.
  • Electrode Pads: Verify pad integrity and expiration.
  • Status Indicator: Confirm “Ready” status and log error codes.
  • Accessories and Storage: Check the presence of accessories.
  • Software/Firmware Updates: Track the update history.

Best Practices

  • Regular Inspections: Conduct checks monthly or as specified.
  • Digital Logging: Consider digital forms for ease of analysis.
  • Cross-Verification: Periodically review results.
  • Staff Training: Train staff to complete logs correctly.

An accurate inspection log is vital for maintaining compliance and AED functionality.

Using Tags and Stickers for AED Maintenance Tracking

Why Tags and Stickers Matter

Quick Identification: Verify recent inspections quickly.

Compliance and Record-Keeping: Ensure regulatory adherence.

Maintenance Tracking: Monitor inspection and maintenance schedules.

Accountability: Foster accountability by noting the inspector's name.

Key Information

  • Inspection Date: Show the last inspection date.
  • Next Inspection Due Date: Indicate the next inspection.
  • Inspector’s Name/Initials: Track the responsible inspector.
  • Battery Replacement Date: Prevent unexpected depletion.
  • Pad Expiration Date: Indicate when pads expire.
  • Error Codes: Show any warning codes to aid troubleshooting.

Best Practices

  • Consistent Placement: Ensure uniformity across devices.
  • Clear and Legible: Keep information legible over time.
  • Durability: Use waterproof or durable tags.
  • Replacement Process: Replace tags after each inspection.
  • Digital Backups: Record information digitally for analysis.
  • Training: Educate staff on the significance of tags.

Tags and stickers help verify inspections quickly, improving AED readiness.

Top AED Brands in the U.S.

In the U.S., several leading AED brands stand out for their innovative features and reliability, providing essential tools for saving lives during emergencies. Here’s a quick overview of the top brands and what they are known for.


Known For

Philips Healthcare

Clear voice prompts and visual cues. SMART Analysis for accurate shocks. Self-testing for readiness

ZOLL Medical

Real CPR Help® with real-time feedback. Waterproof and impact-resistant. One-piece electrodes.

Cardiac Science

-Rescue Ready® daily self-tests. CPR Feedback with voice prompts. Bilingual prompts.


Video prompts Long-life batteries (up to 7 years). Affordable and reliable.


Real-time data transmission. High-energy delivery. Clear graphics and prompts.


Integrated Pad-Pak. Rugged design. Real-time CPR feedback.

Industry-Specific AED Information

Different industries require tailored approaches to Automated External Defibrillator (AED) deployment. Here’s a brief guide on industry-specific considerations and best practices.



Best Practices


Proximity to care, multiple facility locations

Frequent training, and connectivity for rapid emergency response


High-risk environments, exposure to elements

Rugged AEDs, regular emergency drills


Safety for children and young adults, widespread facilities

Accessible AEDs in common areas, ongoing staff training


Large employee bases, multiple floors

AEDs in high-traffic areas, regular health screenings


Mobility, remote access to medical care

Portable AEDs, training for in-transit use

Replacing Traditional Inspection Sheets with SIM 

Transitioning from manual inspection sheets to an integrated platform like Safety Inspection Manager (SIM) streamlines AED maintenance:

Automated Inspection Scheduling

  • Set up automated schedules based on guidelines.
  • Reminder Notifications: Receive notifications for due checks.

Digital Checklists and Logs

  • Comprehensive Checklists: Create digital checklists for each AED model.
  • Instant Logging: Log results automatically.

Automated Alerts

  • Receive alerts when batteries or pads are nearing expiration.
  • Issue Tracking: Report and track maintenance issues directly in the system.

Compliance and Audit Readiness

  • Centralized Records: Keep a comprehensive record of inspection logs, accessible during audits.
  • Regulatory Alignment: Ensure inspections align with standards by monitoring inspection frequency.

Training Management

  • Training Records: Track the training and certification status of AED responders.
  • Refresher Courses: Schedule regular training to maintain confidence.

Multi-Site Management

  • Centralized Dashboard: Manage AED inspections across multiple locations from a single dashboard.
  • Cross-Location Reporting: Compare inspection results across sites to identify trends.

Ensuring AEDs are consistently maintained and ready for immediate use requires understanding the legal and regulatory requirements, implementing an effective training program, and keeping up with regular inspection schedules. By leveraging digital tools like Safety Inspection Manager, following best practices, and adhering to federal, state, and local regulations, organizations can achieve reliable AED compliance and provide life-saving interventions when needed most.

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