2Lift / Ergonomics / Italy

Manual Handling Guide and Ergonomic Assessment Tools in Italy

If you’re an employer in Italy and want a manual handling guide on ergonomics, regulations and limit values for lifting, pushing and pulling, there are some good news and some less good news.

The good news is, there is plenty of information available. The less good news is that it is not very practical in nature. Most of the material seems to be directed at safety and health professionals, and not the busy employer with no or little prior knowledge on ergonomics.

Anyway, that won’t stop us from presenting the main points of what you need to be aware of if manual handling is taking place where you work.

This is what you get here:

  • A quick introduction to the main authorities in the field of occupational safety and health in Italy
  • Brief insights into the laws and legislations of manual handling in Italy, including the responsibilities of the employer
  • Links out to ergonomic risk assessment information and tools for lifting and carrying
  • Weight limits for lifting at work

The Authorities Responsible for Manual Handling in Italy

In Italy there are several institutional bodies who in a joint effort are responsible for upholding the system of occupational safety and health. The Ministry of Labour and Health works together with the Regional Coordination Committees and social partners and they are responsible for supervising, advising and assisting companies in abiding by the law (reference).

When it comes to informing about occupational risk prevention in Italy, several different bodies (government and other bodies) are involved in that too. One of the most important ones being the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL, Istituto Nazionale per l’Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro), who also serve as the OSHA national focal point.

INAIL is a public non-profit organization whose aim, among other things, is to protect workers from occupational hazards that may harm their health. On their website they have a manual handling guide section dedicated to risk prevention and ergonomics. .

Laws and Legislations on Manual Handling in Italy

When it comes to the legal framework of manual handling in Italy (and in many other countries too) it can be difficult to find out where precisely to look to find out what the rules are regarding manual handling at work.

In Italy the main legislative framework is D.Lgs 81/08, which contains several EU directives, including the EU Directive 90/269/EEC (also unofficially named the ‘Manual Handling Directive’).

This Italian Decree outlines the responsibilities of employers and points to the ISO 11228 standard as the technical guide to be followed. So when evaluating manual handling operations such as lifting and carrying it should be done according to the ISO 11228 standard. (Thanks to Stefano Massera, chairman of Veram for clarifying this for us).

Manual Handling Guide: Responsibilities of the Employer in Italy

In D.Lgs 81/08 it is clearly written that:

It is the employer’s responsibility via either organizational measures or mechanical aid to avoid that workers carry out manual handling operations. In the case that manual handling cannot be avoided, the employer must act on reducing the risks from manual handling as much as possible.

It is also the employer’s duty to inform the workers about various important aspects concerning the manual handling activity such as the weight of the load, the most ergonomically optimal way of performing the operation and to provide adequate training.

Ergonomic Risk Assessments for the Manual Handling of Loads in the Italy

In Annex XXXIII of D.Lgs 81/08 you will find the risk factors that employers must pay close attention to when performing a risk assessment of a manual handling task:

  1. The characteristics of the load (whether it is too heavy, large, cumbersome to hold and carry  etc.)
  2. The physical efforts required (too much effort, requires a twist of the trunk when starting the lift, problematic body posture etc.)
  3. The characteristics of the working environment (is there enough space for the activity, is the flooring even and stable, is the handling height within optimal parameters, is the temperature too high or too low etc.)
  4. Activity requirements (too much pressure on the spine for too long, not enough breaks / rest, non-self imposed work rhythm, too long a carrying distance etc.)
  5. Individual risk factors (physical ability to perform the task including age and gender, proper clothing and footwear, adequate training etc.)

As already mentioned the D.Lgs 81/08 refers to the technical standards of the ISO 11228 as the guide to follow.

ISO 11228 consists of three parts:

  • Part 1: Lifting and Carrying
  • Part 2: Pushing and Pulling
  • Part 3: Handling of Low Loads at High Frequency

ISO 11228.1 on Lifting and Carrying

According to INAIL the technical standard ISO 11228.1 provides a step-by-step guide to risk assess the lifting and carrying of loads and specifying limitations to the activity. The standard applies for the two-handed lifting and carrying of objects weighing more than 3 kg.

When following INAIL on ISO 11228.1, there are four stages a risk assessment goes through:

  1. You discover that there is danger
  2. You identify the danger / risk
  3. Then you perform a risk estimation
  4. And then you do a risk assessment

Manual Handling Guide:
Weight Limits for Lifting in Italy as interpreted by Occhipinti and Coll

Apparently ISO 11228.1 hasn’t been too clear about age and gender when it comes to differentiating the maximum recommeded weight limits (reference). Thus Occhipinti and Coll suggest that for non-frequent lifting and carrying (less than 1 operation every 5 minutes) under ideal circumstances the weight limits for men and women at work in Italy should be:

Manual handling guide: Weight lifting limits in Italy as interpreted by Occhipinti and Coll.

  • 25 kg for men between 18-45 years
  • 20 kg for men below 18 or above 45 years
  • 20 kg for women between 18-45 years
  • 15 kg for women below 18 or above 45 years

Further more, according to INAIL on ISO 11228 when the frequency of the manual handling operations increases, the weight of the load must be correspondingly reduced. For instance you are only allowed to lift a maximum of 15 times per minute, and when you do so, you must only do it for a maximum of 1 hour a day and load must not weigh more than 7 kg.

Also in one workday (8 hours) you may carry a total weight of 10,000 kg if the distance from start to end is no more than 10 meters. If the distance is more than 10 meters, once again, the weight must be reduced.

NIOSH Lifting Equation

Niosh lifting equationAnother risk assessment tool referred to by INAIL is the revised NIOSH Lifting Equation (Equazione Rnle) which is ideal for getting a very precise result.

Like what is the case for the ISO 11228, the NIOSH Lifting Equation requires a bit of time to understand and use, and is mostly used by safety and health professionals.

In short, what you get out of the NIOSH Lifting Equation is the recommended weight limit for a certain two-handed lifting task that is considered safe to lift for 75% of female workers and 90% of male workers.

The maximum weight limit in the NIOSH Lifting Equation is 51 pounds (app. 23 kg) under ideal circumstances.

Risk Assessment and Force Limits for Pushing and Pulling in Italy

For a manual handling guide on pushing and pulling ISO 11228 part 2 should be applied.

Online Manual Handling Guide Resources in Italy

Online manual handling guide resources in Italy on lifting guidelines and ergonomic risk assessments.

Information Disclaimer

We have done our very best to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented on this page. However, we cannot guarantee the correctness of any information (regulations change from time to time, responsibilities change hands, etc.). Thus we cannot accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information provided here.

If, however, you are aware of any outdated or incorrect information on this page, you are very welcome to contact us, so we can bring our page up to date.

Other Pages on Regulations and Manual Handling Guide Resources

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