The crane can reach across the street where I pass by. It looms above me like a monster. I knew a man who sold cranes this size to construction companies. Stories that he told about crane accidents inspired this dark image.
Decades ago, I worked as a rigger on a small, mobile crane in an iron fabricating plant. The rigger wraps short cables around the load in a manner that will maintain the balance, and then attaches the crane hook to the cables. Sometimes it is necessary to guide the suspended load around obstacles, but it is best to keep some distance from the airborne load. I loved the job because it was dangerous. My full attention was required, making the day pass quickly. I never got bored.
Once, I saw a load spill, but fortunately, I was not close by. About one hundred pieces of metal strap an inch wide and twenty feet long were in a metal cradle cabled with four hooks at the corners. The cradle was not exactly parallel to the ground and the strap not stacked quite evenly. The strap was thin, and overhanging portions bobbed up and down, making the boom a lever working backward against the crane. I shared my misgivings with the crane operator, who agreed and told me to get out of the away. When the cradle was fifteen feet off the ground, the strap began to slither out and soon all of it went. The sudden release of weight made the crane buck, upward and backward. The now empty cradle flew up and down and swung around erratically, but nobody got hurt, nor was any damage done. We had tried to save time by not re-stacking the strap before lifting it, and wound up having to retrieve it and re-stack it anyway. It occurred to me later that accidents are most likely when somebody tries to save time by cutting corners.
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