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Nichols Brothers worker injured in fall

A shipfitter at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland was due to be released from the hospital Monday after being injured in a 15- to 20-foot fall from the deck of a boat, company officials said Monday.

The worker, who was not identified, was pulling up a line from the deck of a catamaran ferry he was working on when the guardrail post, or stanchion, he was leaning against gave way, said Nichols Brothers CEO John Collins.

Collins said the fall occurred late morning this past Thursday, Feb. 3.

The worker, a Whidbey resident who Collins said was recently hired, fell into a pile of sand left over from the process of removing the paint from the vessel prior to refurbishing.

“That broke his fall a little bit,” Collins said. He said the worker suffered at least two broken ribs and a broken shoulder, but was awake and lucid before he was transported to Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville.

Collins said operations were shut down for the remainder of the day Thursday while company officials checked remaining stanchions on that vessel and other boats in the yard to make certain they were safe.

“It was a full-blown investigation,” Collins said. “We recognize that if we can’t build boats safely, we can’t build boats.”

He said that since this past summer the company has focused on safety, and it’s paid off.

“Our record has improved a lot since then,” Collins said.

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