Considerations for Performing the Heimlich Maneuver in the Workplace

ProTrainings Considerations for Performing the Heimlich Maneuver in the Workplace

A choking emergency happens suddenly and silently, and when it does, instant action is needed to save the person’s life. Like any other type of emergency, choking can happen anywhere, and no matter how many precautions you take, you can’t always prevent it. You can, however, prepare yourself and your staff to rescue a choking person when needed. 

The Heimlich maneuver is relatively simple to learn, and the process of saving a person who is choking is pretty much the same at work as it would be anywhere else. However, there are a few considerations for handling and preparing for choking emergencies in the workplace. 

Here’s what you need to know about performing the Heimlich maneuver at work. 

Introduction to the Heimlich Maneuver

Thanks to TV shows and movies, most people have a general idea of what the Heimlich maneuver is and what it’s used for: rescuing a person who’s choking by dislodging whatever object is obstructing his or her airway. But when it’s time to perform the maneuver yourself, you’ll need more than a general knowledge of why it’s useful. 

Before you perform the Heimlich maneuver, first check whether the person is able to breathe, speak, or cough. If they are able, coughing is often the best way to clear the airway. If the person is conscious but unable to breathe, speak, or cough, you’ll need to perform the next four steps quickly. 

  1. Administer five quick blows to his or her back between the shoulder blades. 
  2. If that doesn’t work, perform the Heimlich maneuver by wrapping your arms around them from behind. 
  3. Place your fist just above the navel, with your thumb turned inward.
  4.  Grab your fist with your other hand and quickly pull upward and in toward the person. 
ProTrainings Considerations for Performing the Heimlich Maneuver in the Workplace

Repeat the maneuver in sets of five abdominal thrusts until the object is removed or the person is able to breathe normally again. If the victim loses consciousness, begin hands-only CPR and have someone call emergency services immediately. 

Considerations for Choking Emergencies at Work

While handling a choking emergency is a similar process no matter where it occurs, there are a few important considerations for handling one in the workplace:

  • Trained personnel. The more people you have who are trained to perform the Heimlich maneuver — and administer other types of first aid — the better. But even having a few first-aid-trained employees will help create a much safer workplace. 
  • Health and safety requirements. The type and level of training, as well as the equipment you’re required to provide for your employees may depend on your state and industry. 
  • Workplace-specific hazards. If the nature of your workplace could make choking emergencies more likely to occur (such as in a restaurant or other business involving food), you may need to take extra precautions to ensure employees know what to do when a person is choking. 
  • Incident reporting. Before a choking emergency occurs, make sure employees know what numbers to call for help and any relevant protocols for reporting the incident.
ProTrainings Considerations for Performing the Heimlich Maneuver in the Workplace

Remember, choking emergencies can happen anywhere, including at work — even if the purpose of the workplace isn’t related to food. As with any type of emergency, having an action plan ahead of time will ensure everyone knows what to do and give the choking victim the best chance of survival. 

Employee Training & Preparation

When someone is choking, even a few seconds wasted could be fatal. Take precautions now to ensure your employees are equipped to rescue a choking person, whether that person be a colleague or a customer. 

Some states and industries require that first aid and CPR posters be displayed in prominent places throughout the place of work. Even if it’s not required, displaying a poster that shows how to perform the Heimlich maneuver saves precious time in the event of a choking emergency and helps ensure people know exactly what to do. 

Finally, train your employees to recognize the signs of choking and to act immediately when they see an emergency occurring. Even if it’s not required by law in your location and industry, consider facilitating first aid training for some or all of your staff so you can keep your employees and customers as safe as possible. 

Workplace Safety for Everyone

The Heimlich maneuver is a lifesaving skill that people of all occupations can and should learn how to perform. By ensuring you and your employees have the training and resources to perform the Heimlich — and to administer other types of first aid — you can create a safer working environment for everyone. 
You don’t have to be a medical professional to save lives in an emergency. For more first aid tips and best practices, follow us on LinkedIn.