temporary portable heater in winter

Temporary Heater Safety

(1926.154) When implementing a temporary heating device, there are five standards that one must adhere to:

  1. Ventilation. Fresh air or mechanical ventilation must be provided for safety, proper combustion, and temperature management.
  2. Clearance and mounting. At a minimum, circulating heaters must be placed 12″ from a room’s sides and rear, and 18″ from its chimney connector. Radiant heaters must be placed at least 36″ from a room’s sides and rear, and 18″ from its chimney connector. Temporary heaters with shorter clearances may be installed accordingly. Heaters which are not safe for direct placement on the floor must rest on heat-insulating material, at least 1 in. of concrete, or its equivalent. The heat-insulating material must extend 2 ft. beyond the heater in all directions. Heaters must be located at least 10 ft. from any coverings (ex. tarpaulins, canvas) and these coverings must be severely fastened to avoid becoming ignited or knocking away the heater.
  3. Stability. Unless the manufacturer’s markings permit otherwise, heaters in use must be set horizontally level.
  4. Solid fuel salamanders. Solid fuel salamanders are prohibited in buildings and on scaffolds.
  5. Oil-fired heaters. Flammable, liquid-fired heaters must have a primary safety control, neither barometric or gravity oil feed, that stops fuel in the event of flame failure. Barometric or gravity oil feed heaters can only be used with integral tanks. Heaters used with separate supply tanks can be directly connected for gravity feed, or an automatic pump, from a supply tank.

In addition, use these tips when implementing a portable heater:

Choosing a Portable Heater

The OSHA Safety Manual lists four kinds of temporary heaters:

1. Propane / Liquified Petroleum Gas

  • Propane units heat up fast, provide about 20% less power than kerosene, have a dry burn, require less maintenance, and have adjustable heat outputs

2. Natural Gas

  • Natural gas is not as energy efficient, but can be less expensive depending on its current price; it is a bit safer since it dissipates more quickly

3. Liquid Fuel (kerosene, fuel oil, coal oil, some diesel oils)

  • Kerosene units heat up fast, provide the most powerful heat, and are good at humidifying dry air, but they require regular maintenance and have no adjustable heat settings

4. Solid fuel (wood, coal, coke, etc.)

  • Solid fuel units are the most impractical, as they cannot be used within 25 feet of any building or structure due to their danger

Additional Guidelines

  • Always read the instructions on the side of the heating unit, which will vary from unit to unit.
  • Keep heaters away from any combustible material.
  • Choose a heater size that’s appropriate for the square footage.
  • Use ANSI (American National Standards Institute) certified heaters.
  • Don’t use any below grade LPG or LP. Propane settles in low areas. For example, in a basement without an exit, any spark or flame could ignite the gas concentration to create a damaging explosion.
  • Install CO detectors in the area to monitor carbon monoxide buildup.
  • In case of emergency, place a fully charged and inspected fire extinguisher within 50 feet of an active unit.
  • Never leave a heater running unattended. A fire watch is required for overnight activity.
  • Turn off the heater and allow it to cool down before refueling.
  • Turn off the gas supply when heaters are not in use

We recommend that employees be trained in using these devices. To learn more or to schedule a toolbox talk, leave us a message, call, or email!

p: (610) 237 – 7100

e: [email protected]

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