Electrical Safety in Onshore (Portable) Accommodation

muscat_diver

War Hero
All,
Looking for advice - I have just done a fire investigation on a Electric Oil Heater fire that broke out in a remote camp office/sleeper unit which resulted in a HiPO Near Miss, potentially Catastrophic. Root causes included old electrical distribution board with no earth fault circuit breakers, only 20 and 30A overload protection. Locus of fire was old Electric Oil Heater (16A) which had a 3 core power cable fitted by OEM. The original cable had a second power cord spliced into it by means of 'wire twist' and electrical tape wrap connections. It is most likely this was done to end up with a plug that fitted the universal wall socket plate (original plug possibly US design with angled pins). The spliced power cord plug was European E/F type with two male pins and female socket earth/earth strip indentations and the wall socket was universal fit. So no way for earth connection to be made when plug inserted into the socket.

In terms of electrical standards/guidance I am looking at IOGP 542 Temporary onshore accommodation – Design, layout, accommodation, facilities and services which refers to NFPA 70/IEC 60364. However I would be grateful if anybody could point me to a similar reference in UK standards such as BS7671 18th Edition. Closest I have found so far is Electrical installations in caravan/camping parks, caravans and motor caravans. However I need something that includes camp accommodation as a workplace.

Thanks in advance for relevant advice.

I am looking for this reference to carry out a brief 'gap analysis' of other existing units to make an initial recommendation to the local manager. Based on this initial survey subject matter expertise will be brought in.

Type E and Type F European standard plugs.JPG
Wall socket ON.jpg
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cowgoesmoo

Old-Salt
Section 717 covers mobile and transportable units.

It's worth considering that the wiring regs only cover the fixed part of electrical installations. The issue of some cowboy twisting the cables together to make the plug fit on a portable heater wouldn't be an issue with the cabin wiring, more under the remit of the IET code of practice for in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment, or common sense TBH
 

giatttt

War Hero
Surely the sections on portable equipment should be your starting point?

IMHO that's a straight fail on the visual inspection.
 

muscat_diver

War Hero
Section 717 covers mobile and transportable units.

It's worth considering that the wiring regs only cover the fixed part of electrical installations. The issue of some cowboy twisting the cables together to make the plug fit on a portable heater wouldn't be an issue with the cabin wiring, more under the remit of the IET code of practice for in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment, or common sense TBH
All agreed, for the sake of brevity I have not included all of the root causes and contributory causes and remedial actions which will include Camp health and safety standards, equipment and installation standards, commissioning after rig move, on site test and inspection, PAT for warehouse managed equipment, guidance for camp inmates, PAT for any items they fly in with from different territories, preventive maintenance regime, expat and local staff training and competence, emergency response (medical and casevac) etc. It is grounding and bonding, fixed wiring and equipment I will deal with as first part of the report. There are a couple of hundred cabins or varying ages, designs and configurations including offices, sleepers, kitchens, freezers dry goods and other stores, mosques, gym, mess halls etc. A lot to sort out.
 

muscat_diver

War Hero
Surely the sections on portable equipment should be your starting point?

IMHO that's a straight fail on the visual inspection.
100% agreed. As mentioned by CGM PAT is critical for camp equipment owned by the company and also brought in by camp inmates. It also problematic that those turning up without the correct equiment as per joining instructions try to buy cheap adaptors in the local market including phone chargers, power banks etc. It is hard to keep track of in a 150 man camp with a fluid population.
 

anglo

LE
100% agreed. As mentioned by CGM PAT is critical for camp equipment owned by the company and also brought in by camp inmates. It also problematic that those turning up without the correct equiment as per joining instructions try to buy cheap adaptors in the local market including phone chargers, power banks etc. It is hard to keep track of in a 150 man camp with a fluid population.
Then your electrical switchgear must be made more sensitive to fault conditions,
and keep your fire protection in good order with regulator checks and updates
 

muscat_diver

War Hero
Then your electrical switchgear must be made more sensitive to fault conditions,
and keep your fire protection in good order with regulator checks and updates
Yes indeed. In this case single point smoke alarm failed to give early warning as battery absent. Chap woken by products of combustion. In slightly different circumstances it could have been unconsciousnesses and smoke inhalation from burning plastics (self sustaining pool fire from molten dripping plastic and Lino). Breakers did not kick out of course.
 

anglo

LE
Yes indeed. In this case single point smoke alarm failed to give early warning as battery absent. Chap woken by products of combustion. In slightly different circumstances it could have been unconsciousnesses and smoke inhalation from burning plastics (self sustaining pool fire from molten dripping plastic and Lino). Breakers did not kick out of course.
I worked in a fiery mine, gas up to the eyeballs, trailing cables being pulled apart, big problem,
pilot control and electronic switching fitted, still had a cable break and some poor bloke
got burnt, the answer was fitting multi point methane detectors to all trailing cabled machines,
better the production stoppage than a gas explosion and lose the mine
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
PAT will not address the glaring issue with the socket - it doesn't comply to British or European standards.
Most likely its a far-eastern hybrid with no compliance or testing certification (e.g. UL or CE marked), watch out for a minor difference in 'CE' marking, there's a subtle difference in the letters. One is an administrative marking that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards in the EEA, the other simply means 'China Export'.
Secondly, radial circuits (IIRC) for Euro sockets should be rated at 16A with a B curve MCB.
Thirdly, smoke alarms have for a long time ( I was certified under 15th & 16th Edn. wiring regs.) been required to be primarily mains powered with battery backup.
RCD's / RCBO's will only be effective with a proper earth path, not only within the structured wiring in the cabin but also the cabin itself bonded to the earth path - multiple points if there are structural joints that can be mechanically seperated - and of course the supply to the cabin must also be adequately earthed.
A point to note on the test & inspect regieme, it's worth doing the annual inspection at eleven month intervals (if not already specified by your equivalent of Authorising Engineer) so that the local earthing arrangements are tested at different times of the year so as to take account of changes in soil resistivity etc. which can have an effect upon the effectiveness of safety devices.
 

cowgoesmoo

Old-Salt
PAT will not address the glaring issue with the socket - it doesn't comply to British or European standards.
Most likely its a far-eastern hybrid with no compliance or testing certification (e.g. UL or CE marked), watch out for a minor difference in 'CE' marking, there's a subtle difference in the letters. One is an administrative marking that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards in the EEA, the other simply means 'China Export'.
Secondly, radial circuits (IIRC) for Euro sockets should be rated at 16A with a B curve MCB.
Thirdly, smoke alarms have for a long time ( I was certified under 15th & 16th Edn. wiring regs.) been required to be primarily mains powered with battery backup.
RCD's / RCBO's will only be effective with a proper earth path, not only within the structured wiring in the cabin but also the cabin itself bonded to the earth path - multiple points if there are structural joints that can be mechanically seperated - and of course the supply to the cabin must also be adequately earthed.
A point to note on the test & inspect regieme, it's worth doing the annual inspection at eleven month intervals (if not already specified by your equivalent of Authorising Engineer) so that the local earthing arrangements are tested at different times of the year so as to take account of changes in soil resistivity etc. which can have an effect upon the effectiveness of safety devices.
You're a bit out of date there bud

Plugs and sockets designed for domestic use shouldn't have CE markings as it's specifically prohibited by the LV Directive (2006/95/EC). They should comply with local regulations e.g. BS etc. The HSE guidance on the UK Plugs & Sockets (Safety) Regs 1994 is pretty clear on this as well: "As the devices regulated by Part I (plugs and sockets) are outside of the scope of Community Directives and the Regulations are national in origin in support of the General Product Safety Directive, the CE Marking is not to be used. Its use may constitute an offence under section 1 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968"

The "China Export" marking is an urban myth, it's just a misuse of the CE marking by dodgy Chinese factories: (Answer to a written question - China Export (CE) mark feeding off the reputation of the European Conformité européenne (CE) mark - P-5938/2007, CE marking and the Chinese Export logo | CE Marking Association)

The IET wiring regs don't require mains supplies for smoke alarms, BS5839 and Building Regs might but not BS7671.
 

muscat_diver

War Hero
PAT will not address the glaring issue with the socket - it doesn't comply to British or European standards.
Most likely its a far-eastern hybrid with no compliance or testing certification (e.g. UL or CE marked), watch out for a minor difference in 'CE' marking, there's a subtle difference in the letters. One is an administrative marking that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards in the EEA, the other simply means 'China Export'.
Secondly, radial circuits (IIRC) for Euro sockets should be rated at 16A with a B curve MCB.
Thirdly, smoke alarms have for a long time ( I was certified under 15th & 16th Edn. wiring regs.) been required to be primarily mains powered with battery backup.
RCD's / RCBO's will only be effective with a proper earth path, not only within the structured wiring in the cabin but also the cabin itself bonded to the earth path - multiple points if there are structural joints that can be mechanically seperated - and of course the supply to the cabin must also be adequately earthed.
A point to note on the test & inspect regieme, it's worth doing the annual inspection at eleven month intervals (if not already specified by your equivalent of Authorising Engineer) so that the local earthing arrangements are tested at different times of the year so as to take account of changes in soil resistivity etc. which can have an effect upon the effectiveness of safety devices.
Many thanks, some great points there. Another problem with the cabins is that they are a 'mix and match' so no consistency of equipment at all. Wiring of unknown age etc. The Distribution Board in this one had GE HACR 20/30A overload breakers and I believe 'single pole' set up.
The cabins come out of the yard when a project is mobilised and then used for 6-9 months and stacked out again. Margins are tight on mobilisation so essential test and maintenance gets rushed and there is no money left to demob and repair before stack out. Its a vicious circle.
The cabins are all on skids which are grounded/bonded together and through earth spikes but as you say in rocky/sandy soil this is unreliable and I know that there are fiddles with buckets of water to achieve low ohm readings and pass off the skids. However with no equipment earth bonding in place due to plugs and socket mismatch it is all in all a hazardous situation. Equipment sourced locally is a constant battle in terms of quality and unless it is brought in from a trusted external source cannot be relied upon.
The reason that the electric oil heater was in use during the recent winter was that the cabin heating was planned to be from reverse cycle AC's. But the yard was only running on single phase power and kept kicking out. The electric oil heaters were left on during the day to keep cabins warm. Of course the same thing will happen in a couple of months when all the cabins need to run ac's for cooling as summer kicks in. At the moment there is a lull as the temperature is around 20 degrees so no extremes and a chance to upgrade power to three phase in preparation. There was no project planning with this camp set up and the price is being paid. The fire could easily have led to a fatality through smoke inhalation or electrocution when the occupant grabbed the radiator to hoof it outside.
 

anglo

LE
Many thanks, some great points there. Another problem with the cabins is that they are a 'mix and match' so no consistency of equipment at all. Wiring of unknown age etc. The Distribution Board in this one had GE HACR 20/30A overload breakers and I believe 'single pole' set up.
The cabins come out of the yard when a project is mobilised and then used for 6-9 months and stacked out again. Margins are tight on mobilisation so essential test and maintenance gets rushed and there is no money left to demob and repair before stack out. Its a vicious circle.
The cabins are all on skids which are grounded/bonded together and through earth spikes but as you say in rocky/sandy soil this is unreliable and I know that there are fiddles with buckets of water to achieve low ohm readings and pass off the skids. However with no equipment earth bonding in place due to plugs and socket mismatch it is all in all a hazardous situation. Equipment sourced locally is a constant battle in terms of quality and unless it is brought in from a trusted external source cannot be relied upon.
The reason that the electric oil heater was in use during the recent winter was that the cabin heating was planned to be from reverse cycle AC's. But the yard was only running on single phase power and kept kicking out. The electric oil heaters were left on during the day to keep cabins warm. Of course the same thing will happen in a couple of months when all the cabins need to run ac's for cooling as summer kicks in. At the moment there is a lull as the temperature is around 20 degrees so no extremes and a chance to upgrade power to three phase in preparation. There was no project planning with this camp set up and the price is being paid. The fire could easily have led to a fatality through smoke inhalation or electrocution when the occupant grabbed the radiator to hoof it outside.
Then you have the age-old problem, management not willing to spend the money, don't understand the
problem, couldn't care less, or able to push the blame on someone else when the brown stuff hits
the fan.
 
If I am right and Ive worked out where @Stacker works he should be able to get hold of references to regulations of temporary/deployable accomodation when it comes ot electrikery side of life. But I can look tomorrow if i remember as I have some SOW's in respect of electrikery compliance for deployable type accomodation.
 
Section 704 of BS 7671 contains requirements for construction and demolition site installations. I imagine this includes regs for the likes of site offices etc. Maybe the same?
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
You're a bit out of date there bud

Plugs and sockets designed for domestic use shouldn't have CE markings as it's specifically prohibited by the LV Directive (2006/95/EC). They should comply with local regulations e.g. BS etc. The HSE guidance on the UK Plugs & Sockets (Safety) Regs 1994 is pretty clear on this as well: "As the devices regulated by Part I (plugs and sockets) are outside of the scope of Community Directives and the Regulations are national in origin in support of the General Product Safety Directive, the CE Marking is not to be used. Its use may constitute an offence under section 1 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968"

The "China Export" marking is an urban myth, it's just a misuse of the CE marking by dodgy Chinese factories: (Answer to a written question - China Export (CE) mark feeding off the reputation of the European Conformité européenne (CE) mark - P-5938/2007, CE marking and the Chinese Export logo | CE Marking Association)

The IET wiring regs don't require mains supplies for smoke alarms, BS5839 and Building Regs might but not BS7671.
Cheers for that, as you point out, 'it's been a while'... It probably is / was building regs that had the requirement for mains powered smoke alarms,
 

muscat_diver

War Hero
If I am right and Ive worked out where @Stacker works he should be able to get hold of references to regulations of temporary/deployable accomodation when it comes ot electrikery side of life. But I can look tomorrow if i remember as I have some SOW's in respect of electrikery compliance for deployable type accomodation.
I would be very grateful for any suitable references as IOGP 542 based on NFPA 70/|IEC 60364, many thanks
 

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