WHSQ alert following workplace death
27 Sep 2012
The WHSQ website details information on the causes of heart attacks and the classic signs following the death of a 52-year-old man working on a Coorparoo construction site last month.
None of the workers at the site recognised the man's symptoms, including feeling pain radiating down his left arm and a general feeling of unwellness, as heart attack symptoms.
Coronary heart disease is the main cause of a heart attack and refers to the gradual narrowing of blood vessels in the heart by a build up of fatty deposits over time.
A heart attack happens when there is a sudden complete blockage of an artery that supplies blood to an area of your heart.
As a result, some of your heart muscle begins to die - without early medical treatment, this can be life-threatening or lead to permanent damage.
In Australia, on average, a heart attack will occur every 11 minutes. One person will die from a heart attack every 51 minutes. Research shows that more than 50 per cent of all patients who die from a heart attack never make it to a hospital.
The signs of a heart attack can vary from person to person. However, common symptoms reported from those suffering a heart attack symptoms can include:
- pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in one or more parts of the chest, neck, jaw, arm, shoulders or back
- shortness of breath
- cold sweat.
In addition to those symptoms above, symptoms typically related to a stroke can include loss of strength, balance, feeling or speech down one side of the body.
There is only a small amount of time to act before permanent damage to the heart muscle (heart attack), which can happen within three to four minutes of being starved of oxygen.
If a worker is suspected of suffering from a heart attack, this should be dealt with as an immediate medical emergency.
If you suspect that you, or someone you work with, could be having a heart attack or stroke, call Triple Zero (000) ask for an ambulance and render appropriate first aid until the ambulance arrives.
Dealing with medical emergencies such as a heart attack is an important part of a business' workplace health and safety management system and first aid requirements. This should include communicating medical emergency process to all staff (e.g. posters, site induction), educating workers on warning signs of heart attack (and stroke), promoting the health and wellbeing of workers and encouraging all workers, especially those over the age of 45 years, to see their own GP regularly for a check-up.
The 'Will you recognise your heart attack?' campaign by the Heart Foundation aims to reduce the rate of death and disability due to heart attacks in Australia.
To learn more about the warning signs and access a range of free tools that can be used in your workplace, please visit the Heart Foundation website or call the Heart Foundation on 1300 36 27 87.