Evolution of Electrical Safety Standards in Brazil

In the field of occupational safety in Brazil, few standards carry as much weight and importance as NR-10, the Brazilian regulatory standard for electrical installations and services. Its journey from inception to its current form is a testament to the ongoing efforts to improve workplace safety, particularly in sectors where electricity poses significant risks.

NR-10, Brazilian regulatory standard on electrical safety

Origins and initial framework

NR-10 can be traced back to 8 June 1978 when it was first issued as MTb Regulation No. 3214. Its primary purpose was to regulate Articles 170 to 181 of the Consolidation of Labour Laws (CLT), focusing on ensuring the safety of personnel involved in electrical work. The standard underwent its first revision in 1983, which included references to official technical standards and international norms, improving its comprehensiveness and relevance.

Adapting to a changing landscape

The 1990s brought significant changes to the electricity sector, particularly with the privatisation process that began in 1998. Recognising the need to adapt NR-10 to these changing landscapes and to address the increasing number of industrial accidents, discussions to revise the standard gained momentum. The establishment of a Technical Group (GT/NR-10) in 2000 marked a decisive step towards the development of a proposal for revision.

Influence of international standards

During the drafting of NR-10, Brazilian technologists Jorge Reis and Roberto Freitas, who coordinated the effort, researched international electrical safety standards for guidance. The US National Electrical Code (NEC) or NFPA 70 were considered, but their applicability to Brazilian building standards was limited. Instead, the technologists decided to use French standards, which they felt were more appropriate due to similarities in construction practices and regulatory frameworks.

Collaboration and refinement

Over the years, NR-10 has undergone several revision processes, each aimed at refining its provisions to better address evolving challenges and technologies. Tripartite Working Groups (GTTs) were formed to ensure comprehensive discussions involving stakeholders from different sectors. These collaborative efforts culminated in the publication of revised versions, such as that of December 2004, which established the National Permanent Commission on Electrical Safety (CPNSEE) to monitor implementation and propose further adjustments.

Continuous improvement and harmonisation

Subsequent amendments to NR-10, including corrections to the numbering of annexes and harmonisation with other regulatory standards, have demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement and alignment with wider occupational safety initiatives. The modernisation discussions initiated at the 97th Ordinary Session of the CTPP underscored ongoing efforts to meet evolving societal demands and technological advances in the energy sector.

Looking ahead: Ensuring safety in a dynamic environment

While NR-10 continues to evolve, it remains a cornerstone of workplace safety, providing essential guidance for the prevention of electrical hazards and the protection of workers. Its journey from its inception in the late 1970s to its current form reflects not only advances in safety practices, but also the collaborative spirit of stakeholders committed to ensuring the well-being of workers in the face of an ever-changing industrial landscape.