Space Heater Safety: The Proper Use of Heaters in the Work Place

November 16, 2011


The use of space heaters in offices is common in the winter. Even in warmer climates, winter mornings can bring on a chill. While these seemingly harmless devices may be an efficient way to heat a cold or drafty space, they can pose certain safety hazards when used incorrectly.

Even though a space heater does not have an open flame, the heating elements of some units are hot enough to cause nearby combustibles to ignite. Fires can also be caused by improper heater use or faulty wiring. Additionally, burns can result from contact with the heating element or hot surface. Taking appropriate safety measures is vital to preventing an accident. It is also important to review space heater policies with building management prior to purchase or use.

Space Heater Safety Precautions

  • Choose a space heater with a guard around its heating element.
  • Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how far the heater should be placed from other objects.
  • Use a heater certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory to meet safety standards.
  • Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat.
  • Never leave an unattended heater turned on.
  • Ensure proper ventilation.
  • Never use or store flammable liquids around a space heater.
  • Never use heaters to dry clothes or equipment or to thaw pipes.
  • Do not place a heater where objects could fall on it.
  • Follow the instructions and safety precautions for operation and maintenance.
  • Never use a portable heater in a bathroom or near a sink.
  • Do not run the heater’s cord under carpeting or where someone could trip over it.
  • Never touch an electric heater if you are wet.
  • Never operate a defective or broken heater.
  • Place the heater on level surface for stability.
  • Install and maintain a smoke detector in the area where the heater will be used.

For more information on space heater safety please contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission or The US Department of Energy or for specific information regarding your facility, please contact Vanguard Resources directly.