Safe Warehouse app enables a safer logistics working environment

02/11/2022 — minutes reading time
VIL Knowledge Safe Warehouse

The logistics sector is well established as one of the top ten sectors for serious accidents. However, new technologies, such as wearables, person detection and collision avoidance can help to reduce the risks significantly. That’s why VIL has developed an app that compares the advantages and disadvantages of these technologies and helps companies choose the right solutions.

“Logistics scores poorly in the area of safety on the work space,” says Gunther Storme, leader of VIL’s Safe Warehouse project. “Not only does that lead to human harm, it also impacts the reputation of the sector. In construction – another sector which sees a lot of workplace accidents – their figures have been trending downwards over the past seven years, whereas in logistics, accident numbers have more or less been stuck at the same high level.”

The most common risks in warehouses are becoming trapped, tripping, falling loads and accidents involving internal transport equipment. In more than 70% of cases, serious workplace accidents involve staff who have been in the job for less than five years. In fact, half of these accidents occur in their first year on the job.

Practical tests

Safety is clearly a hot topic in the sector. That’s why VIL decided to launch its Safe Warehouse project, as Storme explains. “Together with the participating companies, we looked at the existing solutions and at the reasons why some of them are not widely used. We also looked at the advantages and disadvantages of the various technologies that help to reduce risks.”

Three practical tests were set up: Delhaize trialled dynamic signage in the form of footpath projections and LED signs; Mainfreight started using smart wearables that can detect behaviour and hazardous situations for warehouse workers; and Molenbergnatie examined whether AI algorithms could help improve person detection in warehouses.

Nine categories of technological solutions

The results of the project showed that using these and other new technologies could indeed reduce the number of accidents in logistics warehouses. “To share our experiences and knowledge, VIL developed an online Safe Warehouse tool, with the support of VLAIO. This app suggests technological solutions – divided into nine categories – which may improve safety in the warehouse. It then compares their advantages and disadvantages in a well-organised manner.”

The nine categories are: automation, awareness, collision avoidance, flow management, handling support, dynamic signage, wearables, person detection and speed reduction. Although most accidents involve forklifts and other mobile equipment, the range of suggested solutions is much wider.

Accidents cost far more than people think

“These solutions vary widely in cost, but that’s no reason not to invest in them. After all, you cannot put a price on safety. In fact, during the presentation of the project results, an expert from AG Insurance emphasised that the average cost of an accident is much higher than people think. The indirect costs of an accident – shutting down operations, inspection by the Labour Inspectorate, paperwork, replacement and training of a new operator, and so on – are three to seven times higher than the direct costs. Direct costs are covered by the insurer, but indirect costs are not.”

The Safe Warehouse app is available now

The Safe Warehouse app is an online toolkit that provides companies with clear, up-to-date information on the various solutions on offer. Through further digitalisation and automation, it enables them to make their warehouses not only safer, but also future proof.

To start using the app, all you have to do is register on this page: