The new text of Regulatory Standard 1 (NR-1) entered into force on 3 January 2022 and brought several amendments to the old text. In this article, we will discuss the main ones and their impacts on companies.

NR-1 provides for the application, terms and definitions regarding occupational safety and health, occupational risk management guidelines and requirements, and occupational safety and health prevention measures.

Among the novelties, we highlight the inclusion of Operational Risk Management (GRO). The GRO, through the Risk Management Program (PGR), aims to prevent and manage occupational risks and replaces the Environmental Risk Prevention Program (PPRA). Therefore, currently there is no longer the requirement to prepare a PPRA, but the PGR.

The document should be adopted by the company in an establishment where it develops its activities, that is, if the company has subsidiaries, in addition to the headquarters, the document should also be implemented for each subsidiary. In addition, at the company's discretion, the implementation can be done by operating unit, sector or activity of the establishment.

The PGR should be composed of plans, programs, schedules and other documents provided for in OSS legislation, including those described in the other Regulatory Standards (NRs), in order to include the management of all types of existing risks (physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic and accident), as provided for in NRs 15 and 16.

According to NR-1 updates, companies must:

  • avoid occupational risks that may arise at work;
  • identify hazards and possible injuries or health problems;
  • assess occupational risks, indicating their level;
  • classify occupational risks to determine the need for prevention measures;
  • implement prevention measures in accordance with the risk classification and in the order of priority established; and
  • control of occupational risks.

In order to identify occupational risks and evaluate them, NR-1 determines that the company must consider the provisions of the NRs and other legal requirements of safety and health at work, conducting a preliminary survey of hazards. This survey should be made before the start of operation of the establishment or new facilities, for all existing activities and in case of changes and introduction of new activities.

When, in the preliminary hazard assessment phase, the risk cannot be avoided, the company should adopt a process of hazard identification and occupational risk assessment.

At the company's discretion, the preliminary hazard survey step may be included in the identification stage, which should include:

  • description of hazards and possible injuries or health problems;
  • identification of sources or circumstances; and
  • indication of the group of workers subject to risk.

When assessing and identifying risks, the company shall determine and inform all preventive measures so that such risks are eliminated, reduced or controlled. For each identified risk, its level of occupational risk should be informed, which is the result of the combination of the possibility of injury or health injury with the chance of its occurrence.

To verify the gradation of the probability of occurrence of injuries or health problems, account should be taken of:

  • the requirements set out in the NRs;
  • the preventive measures implemented;
  • the requirements of the work activity; and
  • the comparison of the occupational exposure profile with reference values established in NR-09, according to annexes I and III of the standard.

And for the gradation of the severity of injuries or health problems, account should be taken of the magnitude of the consequence (according to technical evaluations) and the number of workers possibly affected.

The company shall draw up a document, the Action Plan, in which all preventive measures to be introduced, improved or maintained by it will be indicated. The Action Plan should contain the schedule for the implementation of prevention measures, as well as ways of monitoring and measuring their results. In the event of a negative result, prevention measures shall be corrected.

Furthermore, the company may have to establish, implement, train and maintain response procedures to emergency scenarios, depending on the activities developed. These procedures should provide for the means and resources necessary for first aid, referral of injured and abandonment plan, if necessary, with the necessary measures for major emergency scenarios.

The PGR shall contain:

  • Occupational Risk Inventory: includes the characterization of processes, work environments and activities, description of hazards and possible injuries or injuries to workers' health, with the identification of sources and risks and indication of groups of workers subject to risks and description of prevention measures implemented; preliminary analysis data on exposures to physical, chemical and biological agents, including the ergonomics assessment provided for in NR-17, and criteria adopted to assess risks and make decisions.
  • Action plan.

The preparation of these documents, which must be dated and signed by the person who prepared them, is the sole responsibility of the company, respecting the provisions of the other NRs, being certain that they must be dated and signed by the person who prepared them.

Both the Occupational Risk Inventory and the Action Plan should be available to workers, their representatives and the Labor Inspectorate. The Occupational Risk Inventory must be kept up-to-date and its history kept for at least 20 years or for the period established in a specific standard.

The PGR should be reviewed every two years or after the following situations:

  • implementation of prevention measures for the assessment of residual risks;
  • innovations and modifications in technologies, environments, processes, conditions, procedures and work organisation that pose new risks or modify existing risks;
  • inadequacies, weaknesses or ineffectiveness of prevention measures have been identified;
  • occurrence of work-related accidents or illnesses;
  • change in applicable legal requirements.

If the company has certifications in SST management systems issued by the National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality (Inmetro), based on ISO 45001, the review period of the PGR may be three years.

In the event that several companies develop their activities in the same place, they must carry out integrated actions to implement prevention measures, with the aim of protecting all workers exposed to occupational risks.

In the case of outsourced services, the PGR of the contracting company may optionally include the preventive measures that should be adopted by the contracted companies when operating on their premises. However, the contractor is obliged to provide contractors with information on occupational risks that may affect their activities. In the same sense, contractors must provide the contractor with the Occupational Risk Inventory specific to their activities carried out in the contractor's premises or in a place previously agreed in contract.

The Individual Microentrepreneur (MEI) is exempted from the preparation of the PGR, but this exemption does not apply to companies that hire individual microentrepreneurs. The company that hires the MEI must include it in its prevention actions and in its PGR when it uses the contractor's premises.

Micro enterprises (ME) and Small Businesses (EPP) that are not obliged to constitute SESMT and choose to use risk assessment tools provided by the Special Secretary of Social Security and Work (SEPRT) may structure the PGR considering the report produced by these tools and the action plan.

The MEs and EPPs will be exempt ed from elaborating the PGR provided that they are framed as degrees of risk 1 and 2, no exposures to physical, chemical and biological agents are identified in the preliminary hazard survey and declare the information digitally, as provided for in NR-1 itself. In the same case, MEIs, MEs and EPPs are free to prepare the Occupational Health Medical Control Program (PCMSO), but not to perform medical examinations and issue Occupational Health Certificates (ASOs).

The exemption from preparation of the PGR for MEIs and, eventually, MEs and EPPs does not exempt them from the fulfillment of the other obligations provided for in the NRs.

The new text of NR-1, in Annex I, also brought the concepts of biological agent, physical agent, chemical agent and dangerous event.

All changes in the obligations relating to NR-1 came into force on January 3 of this year. Therefore, it is extremely important that companies analyze changes and regularize their situation immediately.

The theme of health and safety at work is of paramount importance and deserves the attention of companies. To ensure greater legal certainty and avoid health and safety problems and penalties for non-compliance with the standards, it is necessary to comply with the criteria stipulated and comply with the technical requirements set out in the NRs, with an impact assessment that considers the need of each company.