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News & Updates

Are your employees at risk from portable heaters?

The London Fire Brigade has warned that as the weather turns colder, homeworkers are likely to deploy portable heaters. 

Portable heaters are used by much of the population in the UK and these number have only increased now more people are working from home. While these portable heaters are not identified as a major hazard, they can become a very serious hazard with incorrect use, as well as the heaters being stashed away in cupboards over the summer months and dragged out without much thought as the temperature plummets, without a through safety check. 

Portable heaters commonly cause fire due to being placed too close to combustibles or because of defects. Remind your staff to take sensible precautions when using them.

The dangers of electric heaters

Portable heaters are not as innocuous as they first appear. In the last five years The London Fire Brigade has attended 1,200 fires started by portable heaters, causing 200 injuries and 14 deaths.

Now that businesses are being more flexible with office hours, employees have taken up the option to continue working from home. However, this is causing individuals to only heat the room they are working in with portable heaters, as opposed to putting the central heating on and heating the entire house. 

Plug directly into an outlet, never use an extension cord or power strip to power space heaters because they can overheat and cause a fire.

Things you should know when using electric heaters

Portable heaters are safe when maintained and used in the correct manner. 

  • Maintain equipment in good working order including how the equipment is stored when not in use, and never use if damaged. 
  • Buying heaters from a reputable source. It’s not always a bargain!!
  • Keeping the heaters at least one metre from clothes, curtains, and furniture. Using any office space, you have created for yourself in a safe way. 
  • Always allowing the heater to cool down before putting way or leaving unattended.

Employers have a responsibility for their employees’ safety, but  there’s no need to go overboard with risk assessments. Share the above advice and carry out some basic checks of homeworker safety and ask them to confirm that fire and other risks are under control.

It’s important to review the safety measures and checks that you do have in place, such as checking to see if PAT testing hasn’t expired and revisiting your risk assessments and fire risk assessments, especially if there’s been a change in personnel and how you use your buildings.

SK Compliance offers a wide range of checks, surveys, and assessments, which can be provided as individual services or as part of a package, with the added benefit of being able to spread any costs via direct debit. A few of our services are listed below but to see the full list of services have to offer, visit our SK Compliance page.

  • Portable Appliance Testing
  • Equipment Calibration
  • Fire Risk Assessment 
  • Fire Alarm System Services & Emergency Light Checks

If you need help with any of the above, including testing and assessments, simply contact your designated advisor, or our Health & Safety team on 01427 420 402 or healthandsafety@skaltd.co.uk