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Safety at work - manual handling of loads

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Safety at work — manual handling of loads

The aim of the Directive is to ensure that workers in the European Union are protected against the risks involved in the manual handling of loads*.

ACT

Council Directive 90/269/EEC of 29 May 1990 on the minimum health and safety requirements for the manual handling of loads where there is a risk particularly of back injury to workers (fourth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC)

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?

It lays down health and safety requirements for the manual handling of loads where there is a risk particularly of back injury to workers.

KEY POINTS

Employers should do everything they can to avoid the need for the manual handling of loads by workers.

Where manual handling cannot be avoided the employer will change the way the work is organised, orprovide workers withthemeans to reducerisk , by:

  • organising workstations to make handling as safe as possible;
  • assessing, in advance if possible, the health and safety conditions of the type of work, in particular load characteristics;
  • avoiding or reducing the risk particularly of back injury, by doing whatever is possible, bearing in mind the working environment and the activity;
  • ensuring workers have information on the weight, and weight distribution, of a load; and
  • ensuring proper training, consultation and participation of workers on handling loads, and the potential risks.

Back injury is risked if the load is:

  • too heavy or too large;
  • unwieldy or difficult to grasp;
  • unstable or has contents likely to shift;
  • positioned requiring manipulation at a distance from the body, or requiring the body to twist or move; or
  • inherently likely to result in injury, particularly if there is a collision.

Physical effort may risk injury, if it is:

  • too strenuous;
  • only achieved by twisting the body;
  • likely to result in a sudden movement of the load; or
  • made with the body in an unstable posture.

The work environment may increase risk if:

  • there is not enough room to carry out the activity;
  • there are variations in floor level, or it is unstable, uneven or slippery;
  • conditions prevents the handling of loads at a safe height or with good posture; or
  • the temperature, humidity or ventilation is unsuitable.

The activity may present a risk if it involves:

  • excessive effort involving in particular the spine;
  • insufficient rest or recovery period;
  • excessive lifting, lowering or carrying distances; or
  • a rate of work imposed by a process which cannot be altered by the worker.

The worker may be at risk if she/he:

  • is physically unsuited to carry out the task;
  • is wearing unsuitable clothing; or
  • has inadequate knowledge or training.

KEY TERM

* Manual handling of loads: for the purpose of this Directive, any transporting or supporting of a load, including lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving, which involves a risk particularly of back injury.

WHEN DOES THIS DIRECTIVE APPLY?

The Directive entered into force on 12 June 1990.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 90/269/EEC

12.6.1990

31.12.1992

OJ L 156, 21.6.1990, pp. 9-13

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2007/30/EC

28.6.2007

31.12.2012

OJ L 165, 27.6.2007, pp. 21-24

last update 24.09.2015

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