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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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South Cumbria farmer fell to his death while cleaning roof

THE death of a farmer who fell through his barn roof while clearing moss was “tragic” and “horrible”, an inquest has heard.

Mark Coates, 38, was found on the floor of the building at Ulpha Farm, his childhood home near Grange, on August 1 last year.

A jury at County Hall in Kendal yesterday gave a unanimous verdict of accidental death after hearing the father-of-one had been using a power washer to remove years of moss from the asbestos covering.

Now, his father Paul Coates has urged all farmers to take “every precaution” available when carrying out their day to day duties.

Mr Coates, who described the 230-acre cattle and sheep farm as his son’s life, said: “Take every precaution, spend a bit of money, do anything you can in terms of safety.”

Describing the death of his “well respected” son, Paul Coates added: “Life will never be the same again for any of us.

“I was very proud of him. He loved his job and he just always wanted everything to be right.”

The inquest heard that Mark Coates, a Witherslack parish councillor, had been warned not to go onto the roof of the barn by his father on several previous occasions.

“But as soon as my back was turned, he was back on the roof again,” Paul Coates explained.

“I didn’t think there was a need – that moss had been up there for 40 or 50 years. There was to be no benefit from cleaning it whatsoever.”

Kelly Shaw, the partner of Mark Coates, told the hearing she had not been able to reach him on his mobile and had subsequently discovered his body at around 5.20pm.

A post mortem examination revealed he had died instantly from head injuries after landing on a cattle feeder.

Government health and safety inspector for Cumbria, Peter Hamer, told the coroner’s court that two farm vehicles had been found parked next to the building – indicating Mr Coates had used one to clamber onto the 30-ft roof and the other to collect the moss.

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