2Lift / Ergonomics / Denmark

Lift and Carry, Push and Pull Ergonomic Guidelines for the Manual Handling of Loads in Denmark

If you are an employer in Denmark and want to comply with the EU regulations for the manual handling loads (how much you may lift and carry, push and pull at work), you are probably on the lookout for easy-to-follow manual handling guidelines and risk assessment tools to quickly evaluate the lifting tasks required at your workplace.

So how does all this work in Denmark? Well, when it comes to finding out how to practically comply with the rules in Denmark, you’re in ‘partial’ luck.

Denmark has produced some material on ergonomic lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling for its national audience, and it’s fairly easy to find online (we’ll be linking to it further down this page), however, there isn’t that much of it, it’s overall fairly general in nature, and there is no (as far as we could find) risk assessment sheets on manual handling specifically for you to print out and use at your place of work.

But what ever we’ve been able to find for Denmark, we will present it on this page.

What you’ll get here is:

  • A quick introduction to the authority responsible for enforcing the regulations for the manual handling of loads in Denmark as well as how the EU plays into this whole affair.
  • Lift and carry weight limits in Denmark and links out to further information on this subject.
  • Ergonomic guidelines for pushing and pulling loads on wheels.

The Authority Responsible for Manual Handling in Denmark

In Denmark the Danish Working Environment Authority (Arbejdstilsynet) is the main authority responsible for ensuring Danish national compliance with EU legislations regarding general occupational health and safety, including that of manual handling.

On an EU level, The Danish Working Environment Authority also constitutes the national focal point for EU-OSHA (European Union information agency for occupational safety and health), meaning that The Danish Working Environment Authority is the EU’s ‘right-hand man’ in (most) matters regarding occupational safety and health in Denmark.

The Danish Working Environment Authority is the agency actively responsible for controlling and supervising Danish companies to make sure the working environment is safe and healthy for workers.

Ergonomic Guidelines for the Manual Handling of Loads in the Denmark (Lift and Carry, Push and Pull)

In Denmark the guidelines for manual handling are to be found in an “At-vejledning” (At-guidance). At-vejledninger are guidance documents created by the Danish Working Environment Authority on how to interpret the rules of occupational safety and health.

When it comes to the subject of manual handling, such an At-vejledning is to explain in easy-to-understand terms, how the demands of the EU Directive 90/269/EEC (also referred to as the Manual Handling Directive) can be met in practice.

In other words, it is to explain how companies can ensure a safe environment for manual handling (e.g. by providing the recommended weight limits for how much you may lift and carry at work), so workers’ won’t risk MSDs and other injuries sustained from lifting, holding, carrying, pushing or pulling heavy loads at work.

Information on the Danish national guidelines to the manual handling of loads can be found here: Løft, træk og skub. At-vejledning D.3.1. Here is a link to Løft, træk og skub in pdf format.

Within the EU there are many different ways and (seemingly) levels of effort that the EU member states have employed in their work of creating national guidelines and risk assessment tools intended for employers.

Since the EU Directive 90/269/EEC does not offer any specific weight limits to manual handling, many countries choose to base their recommendations international models (e.g. the NIOSH Lifting Equation, ISO standards, CEN standards etc.).

In the next sections we’ll present how much you may lift and carry at work in Denmark.

Weight Limits for How Much You May Lift in Denmark

In Denmark the maximum weight limits for how much you may manually lift and carry is fairly high compared to many other European countries who take a more restrictive and conservative stance to the weight limits.

Many countries allow for a maximum weight of 25 kilos (for men) under ideal circumstances, whereas in Denmark the maximum weight under optimum conditions is no less than 50 kilos. Most countries define the maximum weight limit differently for men and women, Denmark does not.

Even though the Løft, træk og skub document makes a decent job of explaining the risks and variables in manual handling, the practical tools for risk assessing in Denmark are fairly limited. In fact, as already mentioned, we couldn’t find any risk assessment sheets to fill out!

In the Løft, træk og skub document there is a simple illustrative model to follow when it comes to finding out whether or not a certain lifting task constitutes a potential health risk.

The model illustrates the risk level via a color code:

  • Red (dangerous)
  • Yellow (only safe under ideal circumstances), should be further investigated)
  • Green (typically safe)

In this model the main variable defining the maximum weight is the body proximity of the load. In other words, how close to or far from the centre of the body is the load being lifted. The closer to the body, the safer the lift, which also means that the closer to the body the heavier a load is allowed.

The safe weight limits for lifting under ideal circumstances are defined as follows:

  • Loads held close to the body: 50 kg
  • Loads held at a forearm’s length, app. 30 cm: 30 kg
  • Loads held at 3/4 of an arm’s length, app. 45 cm: 15 kg

Manual handling weight lifting limits at work in Denmark. How much may you lift and carry.

Thus in Denmark, the lift and carry weight limit for adult workers varies depending on the proximity of the lift to the body. The maximum weight limit is thus 50 kg for lifts close to the body carried out between mid-thigh and elbow height. However, the lifting task has to meet other criteria pertaining to the e.g. the lift frequency, the working surroundings / environment etc. in order to be defined as optimal and thus safe.

Another thing is that the above weight guidelines are only valid, if the worker lifts less that a total overall weight per day. Again, the main variable here is defined by body proximity.

The maximum overall weight lifted per day in Denmark (when all other conditions are ideal) is:

  • App. 10 ton for lifts close to the body.
  • App. 6 ton for lifts in forearm’s distance.
  • App. 3 ton for lifts carried out in 3/4 arm’s distance.

As mentioned, this model only applies for lifts where all other conditional are optimal. Variables (restraints) ‘pulling’ the maximum weight down can typically be found somewhere within the categories below.

The risk factors in manual handling:

  • The characteristics of the load – it ‘handle-ability’ (size, form, hand-clasping options etc.).
  • Physical exertion – physical stress and energy expenditure (posture, trunk twists, speed of work, lifting heights etc.).
  • The nature of the work place – restraints (limited space, uneven floors, temperature, lighting etc.)
  • Other working conditions (lifting frequency, unexpected / unforeseen lifts, vibrations from machines etc.).

Weight Limits for How Much You May Carry in Denmark

Carrying loads (more than 2 meters) are considered more risky than merely lifting and should be avoided as much as possible. If carrying can’t be avoided, a risk assessment should be performed.

The weight limits for carrying are lot more conservative than those for mere lifting.

If all other conditions are ideal, you are allowed to carry:

  • App. 20 kg for lifts close to the body.
  • App. 12 kg for lifts in a forearm’s distance.
  • App. 6 kg for lifts in 3/4 of an arm’s distance.

Ergonomic Guidelines for Pulling and Pushing in Denmark

Guidelines for pushing and pulling loads on wheels in Denmark.When it comes to manually pushing and pulling loads on wheels, there are a lot of guidelines to follow in the aforementioned Løft, træk og skub, but Arbejdstilsynet are very hesitant to recommend any fixed force limits or weight limits when it comes to starting, stopping or keeping the load in motion.

In earlier days they used to say that the starting force shouldn’t exceed 400 Newton, and the keeping in motion force shouldn’t exceed that of 200 Newton. But today they have moved away from that saying that a risk assessment is based on an evaluation of all parameters together.

However, they do say that the ‘practical experience’ of weight limits is that:

  • Loads on wheels with a total weight of less than 200 kg (including the wagon or lift) rarely pose a problem if the pushing or pulling distance is short, and the transport takes place under ideal environmental conditions (e.g. safe, level flooring).
  • If the total weight of the element to be pushed or pulled is between 200-500 kg, it may be critical – whether or not it is problematic depends on all the other variables present.
  • A total weight of 500 kg is not recommended as it is considered to almost always constitute a health risk.

Online Resources on Manual Handling (Lift and Carry Loads) in Denmark

Online manual handling resources for how to ergonomically lift and carry, push and pull at work in Denmark.

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 Manual Handling Regulations (Lift and Carry, Push and Pull at Work)

Country Specific Pages with Ergonomic Guidelines and Risk Assessment Tools

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