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Electrical shock from containerised portable office

What happened?

Whilst tidying a mobile office (freight) container, an employee sustained a mild electric shock by inadvertently touching an exposed live electrical cable which was obscured by several boxes below a desk.  The cable had been left in position following the removal of a piece of fixed equipment whilst the container was in storage (out of use).

What were the causes? What went wrong?

  • Checks on the container, pre and post mobilisation, did not identify the potential risk;
  • No formal verification of the condition and safety of the electrical installation in the container had been carried out prior to energising.



Some of these lessons and actions may be a regulatory requirement in some locations.

  • The condition and safety of any electrical equipment should be established before and after mobilisation, but particularly – as in this case – electrical equipment that is wholly within other installations such as freight containers;
  • Accurate inspection records and wiring diagrams should be maintained, and defective equipment and redundant wiring removed or labelled as such;
  • To ensure the safety of the installation, testing and inspection protocols should be in place coupled together with an approval process which includes the appropriate test and inspection results / records.


Our member:

  • Isolated and inspected the container electrical installation and the termination of exposed electrical cables;
  • Reviewed and assessed mobile container electrical installations elsewhere in its operation;
  • Developed and implemented formal work instructions for the fit out and/or modification of mobile offshore containers including the electrical installation.

Members may wish to refer to

Safety Event

Published: 25 August 2020
Download: IMCA SF 25/20

Relevant life-saving rules:
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