Space Heaters: January 2023 Safety & Hygiene Corner

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:

  1. Your local fire department may prohibit them, so check with your local Fire Marshall first
  2. They must be  approved by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory  like UL or FM.

OSHA’s Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) Program – Current List of NRTLs | Occupational Safety and Health Administration

  • 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

Stay Warm and Safe!

*Brought to you by the Ohio BWC safety consultants.