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Campus Safety Manual

Standards For Use Of Personal Space Heaters


Personal space heaters are not energy efficient and do not support the University’s energy conservation plan. In addition to the energy conservation perspective, personal space heaters can interfere with a building’s heating and cooling system if placed too near a room thermostat or sensor.

Although personal space heaters are designed, tested and built to be safe during normal use, they do pose serious electrical shock and burn hazards. Product defects, poor design or improper use can create hazardous situations that increase the risk of a fire hazard as well as injuries to employees. The use of personal space heaters is strongly discouraged.

These standards have been developed to establish parameters for the safe use of personal space heaters. If a space heater is necessary and your supervisor has approved your request, several styles of personal heaters are permitted providing certain requirements, safety standards, and restrictions have been met.

Personal space heaters are not permitted, under any circumstances, in laboratories, storage areas, or others areas not actively occupied by personnel.

Questions regarding these standards may be directed to the Safety Office in the Business Services Department or to the Safety & Risk Manager at .


Combustible Material can be a solid or liquid. Combustible solids are those capable of igniting and burning. Wood and paper are examples of such materials.

Extension Cord is a portable flexible cord of any length, which has one male connector on one end, and one or more female connectors on the other.

Power Tap or Strip is a device with a flexible cord no longer than 6 feet that has a male connector on one end of the cord and a housing containing built-in over current protection and one or more receptacles on the other.

Receptacle is an electrical outlet designed for use with a plug or connector for the purpose of supplying electrical power to an appliance or fixture.


The use of a personal space heater in University owned or managed buildings must be approved by an employee’s supervisor and the heater must be purchased at the employee’s expense.

The personal heater must meet the following standards before it can be placed into use:

  • The heater must be inspected and approved for University use by Facilities Services and the heater specifications and location documented with the Safety Officer for annual inspections.
  • The heater must be certified and listed by a nationally recognized independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • The heater surfaces must be cool to touch when in operation.
  • The heater must have an enclosed or closely guarded heating element.
  • The heater must have built in automatic shut off tip over protection.
  • The heater must be equipped with a high temperature-limiting device.
  • The heater must not exceed 500 watts maximum output.
  • Free standing heater should have an on/off switch.

While in use, the personal heater must meet the following minimum safety standards:

  • The heater should be kept clean and free of dust.
  • The electrical cord should be in good condition and not frayed.
  • The unit should be plugged directly into an approved electrical receptacle outlet (International Fire Code, Portable, Electric Space Heaters, Section 605.10.2, Power Supply) and not plugged into an extension cord or power tap or strip (International Fire Code, Portable, Electric Space Heaters, Section 605.10.3, Extension Cords).
  • The unit must be removed immediately if there is any sign of damage to the personal space heater components.
  • The unit must not block any portion of an exit, exit passageway, or high traffic area or restrict egress during a building evacuation event.
  • The unit must be used on the floor only (never place a heater on room furniture).
  • The unit must be operated and used according to the manufacturer's operating instructions. (It is recommended that users read the instructions and warning labels to understand how to operate the heater safely. Keep the owner’s manual in a convenient place to refer to when needed.)
  • Personal heaters must be shut off and unplugged at the end of each workday.

The following restrictions apply to the placement and location of personal space heaters:

  • Personal heaters cannot be used underneath a desk, table, or other enclosed spaces unless the heater is listed by the manufacturers for underneath desk use.
  • Personal heaters shall not be operated within 3 feet of any combustible materials (International Fire Code, Portable, Electric Space Heaters, Section 605.10.4, Prohibited Areas).
  • Personal heaters are not to be operated within 3 feet of a room thermostat or sensor.


All personal heaters will be inspected annually by Facilities Services and the Safety Office. Personal heaters that are not in compliance with these standards will have to be removed from the University immediately.


  • Three styles of personal heaters are recommended for University use:
    1. Heated Foot Rests,
    2. Wall or Desk Mounted Radiant Heat Panels, and
    3. Free Standing 500 Watt or less personal space heaters.

Some examples of acceptable style heaters are provided below. This personal space heater information, the types, models, and vendors are for illustration purposes only. It is not an endorsement to purchase any particular type of personal heater from any particular vendor.

Examples Of Acceptable Style Heaters
Vendor Source Type
Ergonomic Resources
Heating Solutions: Heated Footrest
Foot Rest
Ergonomic Resources
Heating Solutions: Radiant Heating Panel
Radiant Panel
McGill Deluxe Warmer Foot Rest
Under Desk Heaters
Radiant Panel
Air and Water, Inc.
Under Desk Heaters
Free Standing
Dayton NX3
NewAir AH-400

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