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Portable Heaters Bring Risk for Homeworkers

Portable heaters are used by lots of people and they probably aren’t the first thing you would identify as a major hazard in the home. In fact, they are treated with a fair degree of complacency, being stashed away for months and brought out without much thought as the temperature begins to plummet.

However, portable heaters are not as innocuous as they first appear. The London Fire Brigade reports it has attended more than 1,200 fires in a five-year period that were started by portable heaters, causing more than 200 injuries and 14 deaths.

As an employer you are not obliged to provide heating for homeworkers, unless it’s provided for in the employment contract, which is very unlikely. However, if you do decide to provide a heater you’ll be responsible for maintaining it in good working order including periodic electrical testing.

If a portable heater is going to be used it is recommended that you follow these simple steps:

  • Check that the heater is in good working order and never use it if it has any loose wires, is sparking or looks damaged.
  • Buy your heater from a reputable source, there are lots of cheap electrical goods on the market that can be counterfeit.
  • Keep the heater at least one meter from clothes, curtains and furniture
  • Allow the heater to cool properly before putting it away

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

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