Dad warned son of rooftop danger, inquest told

Mark Coates and his fiancee Kelly Shaw, who was expecting their baby when he died

Mark Coates and his fiancee Kelly Shaw, who was expecting their baby when he died

First published in News

THE family of a farmer who fell to his death through a barn roof have issued a health and safety warning to other farm workers.

Mark Coates, a parish councillor, died last August after crashing through a perspex tile while cleaning moss from the roof of an outbuilding at his Ulpha Farm at Meathop, near Grange-over-Sands.

“We just want to stop anything happening to anyone else,” said his father, Paul Coates.

“We’ve had one or two friends who have fallen through roofs and we mentioned it to Mark but he didn’t listen.”

He told the Kendal inquest: “I was worried about exactly what happened, which was him coming through the roof head-first.”

A jury inquest, held on Monday, heard Mr Coates, 38, suffered fatal head injuries in the fall, on the afternoon of August 1.

It is believed he may have used stationary machinery and a ladder to climb up to the roof but ‘tripped or stepped backwards’ on to a perspex tile, causing it to shatter. “How he ended up there, on that particular place on the roof, I cannot tell you,” said health and safety inspector, Peter Hamer.

“But a perspex sheet is a very flimsy piece of material.”

He said if Mr Coates had used netting, a cherry-picker or moveable staging with a harness, the accident might have been prevented. But he fell 30ft, landing on a feeder below.

He would have been unconscious ‘the minute he banged his head’, said South Lakes coroner Ian Smith.

“The facts of what happened are tragically simple,” he said. “They’re horrible. Everyone is agreed on that.”

Mr Coates, a parish councillor for Witherslack, took over the running of the dairy and sheep farm from his father 15 years ago.

He ran it single-handedly and lived in the farmhouse with his fiance of six years, Kelly Shaw, who was pregnant with his first child – a daughter – when he died.

As well as running the farm he ran a dairy transport business and had a fleet of milk wagons.

“He was a very hard-working, very strong lad,” said his father. “I was proud of him. He was doing a good job with the farm and he was well respected.”

He added: “Things will never be the same again.”

A verdict of accidental death was returned by the jury of 11.

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