Q: Can our employees use space heaters at work?
A: It depends! Space heaters, AKA portable electric heaters, although not ideal, are often found in the work environments. Some employers prohibit them, but if you decide to allow, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your local fire department may prohibit them, so check with your local Fire Marshall first
- They must be approved by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory like UL or FM.
- They must be listed and labeled for commercial or industrial use (not listed for household use)
- They should be located so that they cannot be easily overturned
- If they tip over, they should automatically shut off
- Because of the amount of electric current drawn by space heaters, they MUST be used only where they can be plugged directly into outlets – NO EXTENSION CORDS OR POWERSTRIPS
- Must be 3 feet or more away from all combustibles
- The room must be occupied, turn them off when they leave
- They should be inspected frequently. Check the outlet, check the plug and the heater itself.
That’s a lot of requirements, but if you allow them all must occur. The NFPA has a lot of resources and fact sheets Safety with heating equipment | NFPA and don’t be afraid to call your local fire department or your State Fire Marshal.
It’s a good idea to share this information with your employees because it pertains to home usage as well. Check out the https://dfs.dps.mo.gov/safetytips/space-heater-safety.php
Stay Warm and Safe!
*Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.