Are your heaters getting hot?

We can often feel the cold in this country during the winter months. As a result it is normal to want to be able to feel warm whilst we are at work. We often come across a variety of heaters in workplaces whilst carrying out PAT Testing. However what are the implications on safety?

Heaters in the workplace

Portable heaters are something that we commonly see in offices and workplaces during the winter months whilst carrying out PAT Testing. Users simply turn the thermostat up to the maximum and hope for the best. The problem with this approach is that most of these heaters are intended for use in the home where room sizes are considerably smaller than in offices and factories. Normally, when used in the home the thermostat will turn the heater off when the desired room temperature is reached and back on again when the temperature falls. This on and off pattern allows the plug and flex of the heater to cool in between periods of use. 

In the workplace due to the size of the rooms, it is possible that the thermostat will never reach its set point and turn the heater off. This results in the heater running at full power for most of the time. Many of the heaters available to buy are rated at 3000 watts which equates to 13 amps and is the maximum the plug can handle. This high current draw can cause plugs and fuses to get hot leading to them melting.

Some examples of thermal damage

The photos below are a good example of this type of thermal damage. They show some of the items that we found when carrying out PAT Testing in an office in Basingstoke.

Electric Heater Advice

 If you use portable electric heaters in your workplace we would advise the following simple safety precautions:
  • Use smaller less powerful heaters rated at around 2000W. These will draw less current and be more comfortably within tolerance of a 13 amp plug.
  • Set the thermostat to a lower setting so that the heater is not running continuously.
  • Unplug and check the plug for signs of overheating every day.
  • Unplug at night or when the building is going to be unoccupied.