New regulatory standard on urban cleaning and solid waste management

As of January 2, 2024, NR-38 – Health and Safety in Urban Cleaning and Solid Waste Management – is in effect in Brazil. The new standard brings important changes to urban cleaning and solid waste management activities, addressing issues not previously covered by other standards.

The new provisions establish the need for a risk assessment and work permit for tree pruning activities, the obligation to provide sunscreen when performing activities, and the definition of minimum characteristics for work clothing.

What is NR-38?

In December 2022, Ordinance 4.401 created NR-38, entitled “Heatlh and Safety in Urban Cleaning and Solid Waste Management”, which aims to contribute to health and establishes requirements and preventive measures to guarantee the health and safety of these workers in their urban cleaning and solid waste management activities.

The objective of NR-38 is to establish a series of preventive measures that companies must adopt in order to reduce occupational risks and protect urban cleaning and waste management workers from physical and mental problems, thus ensuring health and well-being at work.

Some of the examples that companies should adopt are the proper choice of tools and work techniques, prior assessment of the integrity of the tree before pruning, adequate night lighting, warning signs when workers are exposed on public roads, proper packaging of household waste, implementation of measures to avoid contact with harmful substances, use of appropriate PPE, and others.

Scope of NR-38

The new Regulatory Standard NR-38 is essential for companies that perform cleaning and solid waste management activities.

The provisions of NR-38 apply to the following urban cleaning and solid waste management activities:

  • Collection, transportation and handling of solid municipal and healthcare waste;
  • Final waste disposal;
  • Sweeping and washing of streets and public places;
  • Weeding, mowing and pruning;
  • Maintenance of green areas;
  • Scraping and painting curbs;
  • Cleaning and preservation of street furniture, monuments, tunnels, bridges and viaducts;
  • Clearing and cleaning culverts, manholes and the like;
  • Sorting and handling recyclable solid urban waste;
  • Beach cleaning.
  • Urban solid waste collection points

NR-38 does not apply to the handling of:

  • Industrial waste covered by NR-25 – Industrial Waste
  • Wastes from public basic sanitation services
  • Construction waste
  • Agroforestry waste
  • Waste from transport services
  • Mining waste