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  • Lucas Lorenz e Silva

MACHINERY SAFETY IN BRAZIL: THE NR-12 NORM EXPLAINED AND SIMPLIFIED


1. Market overview

The transformation industry in Brazil has a strong demand for high-technology machinery and equipment that can upgrade the industrial process and make it more efficient, safer and with better-quality. Considering the value added in the manufacturing process, the most important industrial sectors in the Brazilian market are:

• Food,

• Petroleum Products and Biofuels,

• Chemicals,

• Metallurgy, and

• Automotive.

Despite the considerable diversification of its local industry, the most innovative machinery solutions are still imported, which is reflected in market studies that forecast the imports of machinery and equipment to reach US$ 27.3B by 2024, a 56% growth in comparison to the US$ 17.5 B imported in 2019. 1 In order for Swiss companies to take advantage of this huge potential, it is important to comply with safety standards and norms in Brazil, such as NR-12 (the main standard for issues related to the safety of machinery and equipment), detailed in this report.


1.1. MAJOR INDUSTRIAL SECTORS AND AMOUNT OF COMPANIES


The Brazilian industrial food sector is the most relevant in terms of value addition in the manufacturing industry and has a large number of companies; while in clothing and accessories there is a large number of companies holding a smaller share in the total industrial value addition. This contradicts the trend from the automotive industry, which has a relevant share in the total industrial value addition, but a consolidated market with fewer companies.

To better visualize the market potential and the number of companies in the different sectors, the table below lists the number of industrial companies that have 5 or more employees according to the type of activity.












TABLE 1: GENERAL DATA OF INDUSTRIAL COMPANIES WITH 5 OR MORE PERSONS EMPLOYED, ACCORDING TO ACTIVITY DIVISIONS

2. Regulatory overview

The main standard in Brazil for issues related to the safety of machinery and equipment is the Regulatory Standard No. 12 – Machinery and Work Equipment Safety, known as NR-12. This normative has requirements for a machine to be imported, marketed, manufactured, transported, installed and operated in Brazil.


2.1. NR-12: ORIGINS AND PURPOSE


In Brazil, the work relationships are regulated by the Consolidation of Work Laws (CLT), which contains complementary obligations such as the Regulatory Standards, under the chapter of safety and medicine at work. The Regulatory Standards, identified by the acronym NR (Norma Regulamentadora), in Portuguese, consist in obligations, rights and duties that must be observed by employers and workers. Their purpose is to ensure the safety and health standard in the work environment, avoiding accidents and illnesses related to labour. Commissions and groups formed by workers, employers and government representatives produce and revise the Regulatory Standards, according to recommendations from the International Labour Organization (ILO), in an equal tripartite system. The first version of the Regulatory Standard nº12 Machinery and Work Equipment Safety (NR-12) was published in 1978 and its purpose was to regulate specific articles from the Consolidation of Work Laws - CLT. Between 1978 and 2010, the NR-12 suffered specific changes, driven by regional initiatives. In 2010 a tripartite group of work, with government representatives, employers and workers, approved a significant revision, considering suggestions received from society. In this new edition of the norm, a consolidation of technical references was carried out, including fundamental principles, protection measures and the establishment of several minimum requirements to prevent labour related accidents and illnesses. It also foresaw the employment of new and old machinery and equipment, and aspects to be observed in the manufacturing, importation, commercialization and exhibition. The 2010 revision was the major significant advancement to align local demands related to machinery and equipment safety with international standards. In the subsequent years, the norm suffered other changes that facilitated the exchange of technology avoiding technical barriers, as well as some that updated the standard to facilitate the understanding and application. The 2010 update was broadly aligned with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006, granting an acceptance advantage to machines that already bear the CE Marking.


2.2. MARKET TREND FOR MACHINES COMPLIANT WITH NR-12


In Brazil, the engineering teams that prepare the specifications for machinery and equipment for the manufacturing processes increasingly include the full compliance with NR-12 in the technical specifications, which means that its requirements must be met by the supplier through evidences in form of reports and declarations of the manufacturer or importer. In the area of process engineering equipment, compliance requirements of industrial plant components are regularly required in audits. In the automotive industry, manufacturers frequently receive external audits, both for ISO certification and labour inspectors, in which NR-12 items are frequently verified. It is also common for companies audited by labour inspectors to enter into an agreement to carry out adaptations of the machines in their production process within a schedule to fully comply with the NR-12, but also simultaneously seek greater process automation. Another topic of recent discussions in Brazil is the need for investment in sanitation, which is an example of sector that is related to welding technology and also requires machines that comply with the NR-12.


2.3. MARKET ADVANTAGES FOR MACHINES IN COMPLIANCE WITH SAFETY REGULATIONS


From the point of view of the machine manufacturer's business value proposition, offering machines with a safety certification can be a competitive advantage by standing out from the competition, eliminating market barriers, or even meeting a demand from customers who have practices that actively promote the reduction of accidents or who want to reduce the risks of interdiction and fines in cases of local inspection during the life cycle of the machine. The behaviour of customers in Brazil generally follows one of the following alternatives:

• Import or purchase machines with all the necessary documentation to comply with the NR-12.

• Carry out the import of machines, with all the physical parts constructed in compliance with international standards, but prepare the documentation and evaluation part of the compliance to the NR-12 locally. In this case, translation to Portuguese is generally needed, often using engineers from their own staff or hiring specialized companies in engineering documentation to ensure compliance. Swiss companies should pay attention to the negotiation of that aspect before acceptance of the purchase order.


3. Initial Checklist for NR-12 Compliance

The applicable regulatory standard in Brazil is the NR-12 – Machinery and Work Equipment Safety, and it is noted that many of the items in the standard are in line with the main international standards related to safety of machines. MACHINERY SAFETY IN BRAZIL PAGE 7 OF 13 An example is that the NR-12 indicates that in its execution the following must be considered: “the characteristics of machines and equipment, of the process, risk assessment and the state of the technique” which are topics covered by the ISO 12100 standard. Despite the alignment between NR-12 and ISO standards, some items of NR-12 must be observed independently, such as those related to machine manuals and the link of a legally qualified professional in the country to be technically responsible for the installed safety systems for the machine.


Below please find our concise Initial Checklist for NR-12 Compliance


3.1. SUPPLIER'S DECLARATION OF CONFORMITY (NOT MANDATORY FOR SUPPLIER, BUT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)


(NOT Mandatory for supplier, BUT highly recommended) A specific certificate is not mandatory or literally foreseen in the NR-12 for the manufacturer of the machine to issue, nevertheless a Declaration of Conformity, listing all the regulations applied to the machine construction, is highly recommended, as the importer and the user of the equipment may not have sufficient technical capacity to judge on acceptance whether the machine was constructed in accordance with the applicable standards. The moment the buyer accepts the machine and starts using it, he becomes responsible for the machine and is subject to inspection notices and fines. Therefore, the lack of a certificate is a major risk factor for the buyer and user of the machine.

• Imported machines manufactured in accordance with ISO 12100 related to risk assessment and risk reduction and following the guidelines of the ISO 13849 for the safety-related parts of control systems, are considered compliant with most of the safety requirements of the NR-12, and has a better chance to achieve a complete compliance enabling an engineering registered in Brazil to issue a technical term of responsibility (ART) for the machine. Specific types of machines that have the harmonized European type “C” standard are also close to full compliance to the NR-12.


3.2. OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS (MANDATORY FOR IMPORTER AND OPERATION)


Consists of a set of operating instructions (manuals) in the official language of the country translated to Portuguese. The machinery and equipment shall have instructions manuals provided by the manufacturer or the importer with safety information concerning all stages of use. The manuals shall:

• Be written in Brazilian Portuguese, with legible type and size characters;

• Be objective, clear, unambiguous and easy to understand;