Safety Tip of the Week: Remember safety when using coffee makers

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about coffee maker safety.

Coffee cup being filled by glass coffee pot decanter filled with black coffeeBrookhaven National Laboratory Fire Safety Engineering Group reports that there have been several coffee pot “meltdowns” over the years. All were due to the coffee maker being left plugged in, the coffee evaporating out, and the over-temperature sensor failing to limit the hotplate’s temperature. Fortunately, none of these meltdowns has resulted in significant fires. It is important that if we have a coffee maker in our workspace that we check it often.

Here is a summary of rules for safe electric coffee maker operation:

  1. Electric coffee makers should be UL listed. If it is an older pot, check the
    Consumer Product Safety Commission website to see if it has a recall. When purchasing a new coffeemaker, choose a model with an automatic shutoff feature. It is very important for the safety of students and staff that all coffee makers have this shutoff feature to reduce the potential for fire, injury and property loss.
  2. Place the coffee maker on a noncombustible surface, and keep combustibles away from it (ex. draper, paper towels).
  3. Ensure coffee makers are turned off at the end of the work day (even those with automatic shutoffs). Assigning a person to unplug it from the electrical outlet is the best method of ensuring that it is off. Use of timers is not a guaranteed safety improvement. It is important to know that timers can turn equipment on after-hours, they do not adjust for holidays, and they are affected by power outages.
  4. Now is a good time to check the GFCI receptacle to ensure it works. If coffee makers cause the circuit breaker to trip, disconnect power loads on the circuit immediately. Have the power circuits examined by the maintenance department prior to using again.
  5. Many staff enjoy a cup of coffee periodically throughout the day. We need to all take responsibility for using this convenient piece of equipment by making sure it is in good working order and has the safety features identified above. In addition, it is a good work practice to unplug your coffee maker during the weekends and over holidays to reduce the potential for a fire hazard.