Machinery safety in Brazil 01 jun 2012

 As one of the BRICS countries, Brazil is a country of particular interest to German mechanical and plant engineering: machine imports into the South American country have increased rapidly over the last few years. However, a totally new Machinery Safety Directive in Brazil presents some challenges to German machine builders. The impact that the changed safety requirements will have on exports to the country, retrofits of existing plants and general market opportunities remains unclear.

As a newly industrialised country, South America's largest, most populated country (190 M inhabitants) is well on its way to becoming an industrial nation. The country’s economy is booming. The foundation for this upturn was laid in the 90s with numerous economic reforms. Currently the world's tenth largest national economy, experts believe that it will progress to 5th spot within the next 30 years, overtaking Germany.

The national industrial health and safety regulations in Brazil are monitored by the Ministry of Labour. They are based on the Consolidated Labour Law (CLT), which came into force in the 40s. CLT standardises the labour law in Brazil and thereby regulates individual and collective industrial relations. Within this statutory regulation, the regulatory standards known as NRs define the procedures necessary to guarantee safety in the workplace. NRs have a certain similarity with the European directives, as they contain specific statutory regulations that require implementation. Their scope must be verified via a reference to standards.

In total there are 34 NRs regulating safety, including NR-12, which relates to machinery. All workers employed in public and private companies and registered under CLT have to comply with these regulations. The most recent publication of NR 12 is dated December 2010 and was produced by representatives of the German federal government together with employers and employees' representatives. The aim was to ensure that requirements regarding the safety of both new and used machinery met international requirements. "This is one of the reasons why some parts of the new standard are based on our EC Machinery Directive", says Aitemar Nunes Fernandes, General Manager in Brazil for Pilz GmbH & Co. KG. The German automation and safety expert has been operating in the South American country through its own subsidiary since 1998 and has precise knowledge of the local normative conditions.

The main aim of the new standard is to ensure that a new generation of machines is inherently safe, with full data in terms of transport, application, maintenance and disposal. At the same time, the standard stipulates measures to be taken to adapt existing machinery. The standard also sets out the requirements for planned preventive maintenance. Requirements for scrapping old machinery are also defined in order to prevent the sale of obsolete machinery, which does not comply with safety regulations. The regulations stipulate that before a machine is resold it must be upgraded to meet the safety standards.

"The changes in the new regulatory standard are considerable", says Aitemar Nunes Fernandes. "In some circumstances, anyone not complying with the new standard can expect to have their machine building halted immediately or prohibited. Quite a lot is still unclear: transition periods are between 12 months and several years and complaints of unconstitutionality could conceivably be lodged on account of the legal consequences."

"Anyone using, buying or selling machinery in Brazil must be aware of the specific requirements of NR-12", explains the General Manager of Pilz Brazil. In conjunction with the International Service Group, Pilz's Brazilian subsidiary is busy supporting companies, working in partnership from risk assessment through to safety validation, to guarantee that machinery conforms to the requirements of the revised standard NR-12.
The Regional Council of Engineering (CREA) has officially accredited Pilz Brazil as a ‘Professional Legalmente Habilitado’, a company authorised to provide NR12-compliant services for users and machine builders.