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Tower Cranes: Efficient, Versatile -- but How Safe?

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Tower cranes are the ubiquitous one-legged dinosaurs of the urban landscape—gigantic, powerful, small-headed and not a little scary.

Over the past two decades, they have proliferated in the construction industry. It is possible to stand on many a city street and see more than one at work, their booms rotating on turntables as they reach over rooftops to lift loads hundreds of feet in the air and carry them equally far.

Developed in Europe (and in most cases built there), the cranes are the perfect solution to working in crowded spaces. ... They also represent the application by engineering of the "just in time" strategy that has transformed manufacturing. When the job is done, they are taken apart like an Erector Set, the parts destined for another project in a different place.

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