Farmer speaks out over horror at son’s fall through roof

A farmer has warned others about the dangers of working at height after he saw his son plunge almost 20ft through a roof to a concrete floor below.

Yorkshire farmer Mark Rooke is one of 18 farmers and farmworkers highlighting dangers at work as part of the Farm Safety Week campaign starting on 6 July.

During the campaign Mark will speak of the “terrifying moment” in June 2008 when he heard a crash and saw son Peter’s hands disappear through the barn roof on their farm near Helmsley.

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His son sustained serious leg injuries in the fall and had to be airlifted to hospital for emergency surgery.

“My greatest fear was that if he had he fallen on his head or back he would be dead,” Mark said. “It was a relief when I heard him cry out from the floor below.”

Peter and Mark had been cleaning a repairing the asbestos roof above the grain shed.

Hear Mark’s story in the video below

Mark and Peter Rooke spoke about their ordeal in an HSE video featuring two other accident survivor stories. Mark and Peter’s story starts about one minute in.

“The roof had been boarded to enable us to carry out the work safely. I told Peter about the dangers before we went up there together and to be very careful,” said Mark.

“We had only been working for about 10 minutes when the incident occurred,” he added.

“Peter was airlifted to hospital with a broken leg. It was a terrifying experience for us all.”
Mark Rooke

For reasons unknown Peter appears to have had a lapse in concentration and stepped backwards from the safety boards on to a roof light which gave way.

He narrowly missed standing farm equipment below and landed on his side on the concrete floor of the grain shed.

“Peter was airlifted to hospital with a broken leg. It was a terrifying experience for us all,” said Mark.

His advice in the light of Peter’s accident is: “Always take the time to think of the worst thing which might happen to you before you do the job and then take the necessary safety action to prevent that happening.”

Farm Safety Week programme

  • Monday Falls
  • Tuesday Machinery
  • Wednesday Transport
  • Thursday Crush injuries
  • Friday Child safety

Since the incident Mark has had a safety harness and a back rail fitted to the roof so that anyone working at height there is securely held.

Mark’s and Peter’s story features on the first day of the annual Farm Safety Week which uses the powerful testimonies of survivors and bereaved relatives of real  accidents to drive home the message: Don’t learn safety by accident.

On each day of Farm Safety Week, farmers will be encouraged to take five minutes to assess the safety of some routine tasks.

Anyone who wants to take part can use the Twitter hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek

The initiative is being supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, the Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority Ireland.