Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard that James Abrahams was walking alongside the forklift to steady a pallet of fencing being transported at the company’s yard at Mansfield Lane, Calverton, when the incident happened on July 30, 2012.

He suffered leg fractures, broken and dislocated toes and deep grazing. He was hospitalised for 12 days and unable to work for several months. He has not returned to the company.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found failings at the company. There was no safe system for transporting pallets through the yard, no risk assessment was carried out and employees had not been provided with adequate training, information or instruction. Pedestrians and vehicles should not have been working in such close proximity, it said.

The fork lift driver’s licence had expired four months prior to the incident and fork lifts were operated by other unlicensed drivers.

The court heard that Jon Walker Timber Products had been issued with an Improvement Notice in 2001 for a lack of risk assessments, and written advice had previously been given by HSE on workplace transport issues, including fork lift driver training.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £9,850 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Samantha Farrar said the incident was preventable and could easily have resulted in a fatality.

"It had become the usual procedure, when pallets were leaning or unstable, for employees to walk alongside forklift trucks to hold the loads steady. It was this unsafe practice that led to serious injury," she said.

"Vehicles at work are a major cause of fatal and severe injuries with more than 5,000 incidents involving workplace transport every year. Providing a safe system of work based upon the findings of a suitable risk assessment and adequately training, informing and instructing of staff makes incidents such as this significantly less likely."