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When operating a forklift, you have to prepare for the possibility of an equipment malfunction. In particular, you have to prepare for a scenario in which your forklift gets stuck and you are in a position where you are not on solid ground. An evacuation procedure is necessary whenever the forklift is stuck in a raised position of greater than 3 meters in height. Anyone operating a forklift should have already taken an evacuation course, and each workplace should make sure that operators are familiar with its specific procedure. It is also important that the evacuation equipment is uniform across the entire company, ensuring that someone is not faced with handling unfamiliar equipment in the heat of an emergency. One of the most common evacuation techniques is rope evacuation, in which a person descends using a single rope while attached to a harness.
When should rope evacuation be conducted?
Rope evacuation should really only be used as a last result, reserved only for situations of present and immediate danger. If you are stuck on solid ground, get out of the forklift and tow it out using a truck. Even if you are stuck at a great height, do not immediately begin to descend by rope, as alternate escape means (even if they take awhile) are considerably safer. However, if you are pressed for time (as in a fire or other dire situation) rope evacuation may be your only option. In any event, before beginning the rope evacuation, complete a risk assessment in order to determine your options. If you are relegated to descending by rope, the individual should be attached to a harness and have supervision from below. They should then apply pressure on the handle and slowly descend. The most important factor is not to evacuate too quickly; avoid panicking, take your time, and follow the directions of a supervisor.