After seeing the recent horrifying video of that huge crane collapsing in Manhattan, I can't help looking uneasily at all these cranes in the Pearl District. Are they safe? Will they kill me? Should I buy a metal hat?

—Soft-Bodied Creature

This month, Bloomberg View named Oregon's economy the nation's healthiest. If you don't feel rich, don't worry—they weren't talking about schmucks like you and me.

"For investors, Oregon is a superior bet" was the takeaway quote, suggesting that the top-hat guy from Monopoly will soon order even more high-rise construction in our city. Better start learning to love those cranes.

Luckily, construction cranes—despite their delicate, rickety appearance—are rock solid, with an exemplary safety record, and the chances that one will fall on you are virtually nil.

Psych! I'm totally kidding; they're dangerous as fuck.

Cranes may not be particularly vulnerable to earthquakes*, but (thanks mostly to human error) they still cause more injuries and fatalities than any other type of construction equipment. Tower cranes alone (the giant T-shaped ones you're worried about) log about 90 reported accidents each year.

We tend not to hear about crane accidents unless they occur in our hometown, or someone happens to catch a spectacular video, but the annual body count for tower cranes is around 65 souls.

Only about one-quarter of those 65 are ordinary civilians minding their own business (the rest are construction workers, which I guess is supposed to imply they were asking for it). Still, it's probably a good idea to look up once in a while.

I guess what I'm trying to say, Creature, is that a good metal hat never goes out of style. Not only do they keep your head safe in construction accidents, the lead-lined ones block up to 99 percent of harmful mind-control rays!

This week's column was originally slated to run Feb. 10. Because of an editing error, a different column—also crane-related, but originally published in 2009—ran instead. (Welcome to the legal-marijuana era.) WW, like, regrets the error, man.


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