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Manual handling of loads involving risk

The object of this Directive is to ensure that workers are protected against the risks involved in the manual handling of heavy loads.


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) [See amending acts].


Definition of the term "manual handling of loads": any transporting or supporting of a load which, by reason of its characteristics or of unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves a risk to workers.

In applying this Directive, employers must:

  • use the appropriate means to avoid the need for manual handling of loads by workers, or, where this cannot be avoided, to take the appropriate organisational measures to reduce the risk involved, having regard to Annex I;
  • ensure that workers receive adequate information on the weight of a load and the centre of gravity or the heaviest side when a package is eccentrically loaded, and to ensure proper training and precise information on how to handle loads correctly, and the risks involved in incorrect handling, having regard to Annexes I and II;
  • guarantee that consultation and participation of workers takes place in accordance with the framework Directive on matters covered by this Directive.

The Annexes contain reference information on the characteristics of the load and the working environment, the physical effort required, the requirements of the activity and the individual risk factors. Technical alterations shall be adopted by the Commission assisted by a committee (Article 17, Directive 89/391/EEC).

The Directive includes provisions for publishing:

  • a rapport from the Member States every four years on the practical implementation of the Directive, indicating the views of social parteners;
  • a periodic report from the Commission.



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 90/269/EEC



OJ L 156 of 21.6.90

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2007/30/EC



OJ L 165 of 27.6.2007


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the practical implementation of the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Directives 89/391 (Framework), 89/654 (Workplaces), 89/655 (Work Equipment), 89/656 (Personal Protective Equipment), 90/269 (Manual Handling of Loads) and 90/270 (Display Screen Equipment) [COMM(2004) 62 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Last updated: 18.03.2008
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