Friday, January 22, 2016

Use of Personal Heaters in the Office


During the cooler times we find ourselves in these days the office can feel a bit chillier than normal. With these cooler temps, we tend to see an increase in the use of personal heaters under desks. This in itself can be of some comfort to those trying to cope with the slightly cooler than normal draft, breeze, or wind coming through the cracks and open doors around the office. The issue with the personal heaters is that most are brought from home or purchased at local consumer retail stores. These units are UL listed and marked “For consumer use only” and not intended for commercial use such as in the office.

There are a few hazards associated with consumer use heaters:

1.       These are not commercial grade units and as such can increase the fire hazards in the city buildings.  

2.       The heaters tend to remain plugged in at night and unattended during off hours.

3.       There are typically multiple heaters plugged in a single circuit which can, and often does, over load the circuit, causing the electrical wires to overheat and may lead to a fire.

4.       Some heaters that are brought in are older units of dubious origin and could have damage or wear. This leads to an increased chance for fire due to electrical shorts and overheating.

There are solutions to these issues, short of an all-out ban on their use, which could cause larger problems among the tropical island seekers in the office. There are low voltage commercial panel heaters designed for use in offices and cubicles. There are also commercial grade heaters available for purchase, which would be a more appropriate choice for use in city office properties. Establishing a policy regarding the use and care of heaters, including a policy to unplug heaters while not in use, can reduce the associated hazards tied to the non-commercial grade and consumer grade heaters brought from home which could have damaged heating elements or electrical cords, or have a dust bunny nest – each  could contribute to the fire hazards.

Local office supply distributors can be a good source for commercial grade heaters. With any heater you want to check to make sure it is not “for consumer use only”.

OK now close your eyes and imagine you are sitting on a beach. The warm breeze is blowing off the ocean. As the waves lap at the shore the warm sun is slowly washing away all of those winter chills……

Stay warm and stay safe Minnesota.

By: Paul Gladen

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