Small Appliance Policy


The intent of this policy is to provide guidance to the Seneca Community on the use and placement of small electrical appliances. It is intended to help ensure the safety of the College Community as well as Seneca infrastructure.


This policy applies to Seneca employees, service contractors and any other group or affiliation using, renting/leasing college spaces, including departments or individuals who may purchase or bring small electrical appliances on to College premises.

Key Definitions

Small electrical appliances

Means a class of appliances, which, by their size and function are portable or semi-portable machines that are generally used on tabletops, countertops, or other platforms for the purposes of thermal comfort, the preparation of food / drink, etc. Examples of small electrical appliances include but are not limited to; kettles, toasters (including toaster ovens), hot plates, grills, sandwich presses, microwaves, coffee makers, fridges, air purifiers and humidifiers, personal heaters and portable air conditioners.

Designated Food Preparation Area

Areas on campus that are designed to safely accommodate electrical appliances intended for food preparation and storage. Examples of a designated area may include a cafeteria, a designated employee or student lounge, kitchens, or kitchenettes.

Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)

Inspection Team Comprised of members of the campus joint health and safety committees. They inspect selected portions of the workplace each month for safety hazards.


A person who has charge of a workplace or authority over a worker. This can include department Managers, Academic Chairs, Deans and College Executives.

Seneca Community

Students, faculty, staff, contract employees and all other groups or individuals who use Seneca facilities.


1. Roles and Responsibilities

1.1 Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that the Seneca Community members under their supervision comply with this policy.

1.2 Supervisors, in consultation with Facilities Management, are responsible for establishing designated food preparation areas.

1.3 Seneca Community members that bring personal electrical appliances onto Seneca premises are responsible for complying with this policy.  They are also responsible for following Seneca’s disposal method for electronic waste.

1.4 During workplace safety inspections, campus JHSC inspection teams are responsible for assisting in the identification of possible safety hazards and the notification of Seneca management.  This may include the identification of spaces, to area Supervisors and the Health and Safety Office that have small electrical appliances that do not comply with this policy.

1.5 Departments are responsible for ensuring that fridges, small food preparation appliances, and surrounding areas are kept safe, clean and hygienic.

2. Communication

2.1 This policy will be communicated to employees and service contractors via email.  The policy will also be posted on My.Seneca.

3. Training

3.1 Supervisors must ensure that employees are informed about and understand this policy.

4. Evaluation

  • The effectiveness of this policy will be evaluated by the following means;
  • visual inspections by the Health and Safety office and JHSC inspection teams;
  • annual review of the policy by the Central JHSC

5. Requirements for Small Electrical Appliances

5.1 Where permitted, all small electrical appliances shall meet basic operational safety requirements. The small electrical appliance(s) must:

  • be Canadian Standards Association (CSA), United laboratories of Canada (ULC), Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), or Intertek (ETL) approved;
  • name plates must be visible and legible;
  • be equipped with grounded plugs and not tampered with in any fashion;
  • be in good working condition;
  • be originally corded; cord cannot be frayed, taped, damaged or otherwise altered in any fashion;
  • employ current safety features (where possible), such as automatic shut-off mechanisms;
  • be used in a designated area;
  • be used without overloading the electrical circuits in the area;
  • be operated in accordance with manufacturer’s intended operation while following manufacturer operational instructions;
  • not be used with extension cords;
  • be unplugged or powered-down when not in use.

5.2 Small electrical appliances failing to meet these standards and conditions are not permitted for use at Seneca

5.3 Upon approval, a designated label will be applied to the unit to signify that Facilities Management has approved the appliance.

5.4 The use of the following small electrical appliances in personal or shared office spaces is not permitted:

  • Fridges/mini fridges
  • Toasters/toaster ovens
  • Hot plates, grills, sandwich presses
  • Microwave ovens
  • Coffee makers
  • Water kettles

6. Safety

6.1 When small electrical appliances overheat, it can lead to equipment damage, fires and, potentially, explosions. Although rare, these situations have occurred when small appliances are misused, left unattended or overloaded. To avoid these types of events, the safety precautions listed below should be followed when using small electrical appliances in designated areas:

  • when in use, do not leave heat generating appliances unattended;
  • do not put metal, such as cutlery / utensils or aluminum foil in microwave ovens;
  • always verify the cooking time on a microwave or toaster oven before pressing the start button; extended cooking times and inattention can lead to undesirable outcomes, such as fire;
  • preparation and cooking areas should be clear of any objects or surfaces that may be flammable or may melt;
  • clean and regularly maintain appliances, both for operational and hygienic purposes

6.2 Space heaters pose a significant fire risk, can compromise HVAC systems and often affect the comfort of occupants in nearby offices or work areas. These are only permitted if the heater meets the requirements in section 5 and has been inspected and approved by Facilities Management

6.3 The safety precautions listed below should be followed when using electric space heaters;

  • The heater should not draw more than 4 amps of power;
  • do not leave electric heaters unattended while running;
  • place electric heaters on level, flat surfaces;
  • use an electric heater on a tabletop, only when specified by the manufacturer. If you place it on furniture, it could fall and be damaged or cause a fire;
  • do not use a space heater in a damp or wet area unless it is designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms. Moisture could damage it;
  • keep combustible materials, such as, furniture, curtains, and paper at least three feet from the front of the heater and away from its sides and rear;
  • keep the air intake and outlet clear of obstructions;
  • do not run electrical cords underneath of area rugs or carpeting;
  • do not plug other electrical devices into the same outlet.

6.4 Portable air conditioners can compromise HVAC systems and often affect the comfort of occupants in nearby offices or work areas. These are only permitted if Facilities Management has been consulted and the portable air conditioner is approved

7. Designated Food Preparation Areas

7.1 Seneca recognizes that food preparation areas are required in buildings in order to support working and learning environments. As buildings and existing infrastructure are built and renovated, the needs of the Seneca Community are considered with the construction of suitable designated food preparation areas furnished for the requisite purposes.

7.2 If a department or work area does not have, or is not in close proximity to a kitchen, kitchenette or staff lounge area, the supervisor in control of that area should consult with Facilities Management. Facilities Management will review the request and address the need either by creating or by building a food preparation area, if possible, or by developing alternative solutions.

7.3 Facilities Management will ensure that any newly constructed designated food preparation areas will safely accommodate the intended or proposed electrical appliances. For example, ensuring that there are sufficient power outlets to accommodate the appliances and that the electrical load will not be too great for the area grid

7.4 If there are any concerns with regard to existing food preparation areas or the lack of any, employees should contact their supervisors who, in turn, should contact Facilities Management to schedule an inspection and provide recommendations.

8. Unapproved Use and Disposal

8.1 Contraventions of this policy will be reported to the offending party’s supervisor who, will in turn, address the matter with the concerned individual(s) and take measures to instate compliance with this policy.

8.2 During workplace safety inspections, campus JHSC inspection teams assist in the identification of possible safety hazards and the notification of involved Seneca management. This may include the identification of areas having non-compliant small electrical appliances, to area supervisors and the Health and Safety Office.

8.3 When disposing of old or unsafe appliances at Seneca, the owner of the appliance should submit a work request form to the Custodial Services team to pick up the appliance. The appliance will be disposed of as electronic waste.

8.4 Seneca reserves the right to inspect any electrical appliance for health and safety purposes. If the device is found to pose a hazard for any reason (for example, the age of the small electrical appliance, its condition, electrical implications, etc.), Seneca will ask for the removal or disposal of the concerned device.

Supporting Documentation

Related Seneca Policies

Related Materials