Pets At Home worker died in freak fork lift truck accident
A Pets at Home employee died after getting trapped during a horrific accident at the firm’s city warehouse. Shaun Potter, from Middleport, suffered severe brain damage when his forklift reversed and caused him to become caught between the machine and the pallets it was carrying. The 39-year-old was rushed to the Royal Stoke University Hospital and put on a ventilator but he lost his fight for life four days later on October 8 last year.
His cause of death was given as hypoxic brain injury and accidental mechanical asphyxiation and entrapment. Speaking as the two-day inquest got underway yesterday, his brother Richard Potter said Shaun had previously “complained about work and sustained injuries for which he had to go to the walk-in centre.” : Driver, 31, suffered ‘multiple injuries’ in fatal crash
The inquest heard Shaun had been a forklift driver since joining the company a year earlier and was given in-house training for his role. On the day of the incident, he was responsible for putting pallets away. Witness Paul Bradshaw – who has been an employee at Pets at Home for 10 years – said: “I was on replenishment and he was on put away.
I was three metres away from Shaun. He was in a forklift, he put the pallets away and then lowered the forklift to the ground. “He had turned out of the position and he was facing out towards the aisle.
There’s a screen in the forklift and he was on the wrong screen so I told him what screen he should be on. He had to come out of the original screen. “I saw he had to get the pallet relocator.
He decided to stand up. You would send the forklift up and lower it – he didn’t follow the procedure.
Police and ambulance crews at the Pets At Home warehouse on Campbell Road in Stoke (Image: Stoke Sentinel)
“He stood up in the cab with his head protruded. He was trying to read the licence number on the pallet whilst being three metres up.
He got the first three digits but couldn’t make out the rest. “When he was reading the digits out I started moving to my truck. I sat in the truck and turned myself around, that’s when his forklift went backwards.
His head got trapped between the cab roof and the aisle rack. “I ran over to him and tried to gain entry but was unable to because there was a pallet blocking the entrance. I tried to gain access through the side but couldn’t reach the pedals.
I shouted for help. I couldn’t tell whether the handbrake was on. If it was on it wouldn’t have moved.”
Another employee told the inquest they heard what was happening and ran to tell someone they needed first aid and an ambulance. Emergency services attended the warehouse around 1.42pm. Carly Smith, a paramedic with West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “I could see he had his head trapped.
He was not conscious on arrival. “Around 2.05pm he was removed from the forklift and a helicopter arrived on the scene. He was taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital.”
Paul Brookes, from Newcastle fire station, assisted in the effort to release Shaun. He said: “I asked colleagues to support the forklift away from the racking. He was released using air bags.
The forklift was raised eight inches to be able to release him. He was showing no sign of life.” Royal Stoke critical care consultant, Dr Omar Bani-Saad said: “He sustained traumatic brain injury and had a cardiac arrest.
He was admitted to critical care for supportive management. During his time in the ICU he was sedated and on a ventilator. On day one he had seizure activity.
He was given anti-epilepsy medication. “A CT scan on October 7 showed severe brain damage. Multiple meetings confirmed this was caused by a devastating brain injury.
End of life care has started. He passed away with his family by his bedside.” The inquest resumes today.