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Director and company sentenced in Victoria’s first concluded industrial manslaughter prosecution

A director has been sentenced to a community correct order for 2 years and 200 hours’ community service while his company was ordered to pay a $1.3-million fine, in Victoria’s first concluded industrial manslaughter prosecution (R v L H Holding & Hanna [2024]). Both the company, a stonemasonry business trading as Universal Stone & Marble, and its sole director, Mr Hanna, were also ordered to pay $120,000 compensation to the family of the deceased worker.


The incident that led to the prosecution arose after a subcontractor, Michael Tsahrelias, who engaged by Universal Stone & Marble to prepare stone at its factory, was killed when a forklift being operated by Mr Hanna tipped, pinning him to the ground.

Mr Hanna was using the forklift to move one of the empty A-frames used to store stone slabs in the company’s factory while Michael Tsahrelias, was on the ground, helping to steady the heavy load. Contrary to basic safe operating procedures, Mr Hanna manoeuvred the forklift sideways on the slope with the load suspended high above the ground. This caused the forklift to overbalance and tip sideways down the sloped driveway, striking Michael Tsahrelias and pinning him underneath the forklift mask as it skidded down the slope. Within 1 minute of the incident occurring, another worker on site used another forklift to lift the mast off Michael Tsahrelias. The workers performed CPR, however, Michael Tsahrelias could not be resuscitated and died at the scene.

Guilty plea

Universal Stone & Marble pleaded guilty to Victoria’s new workplace manslaughter laws on the basis that it engaged in negligent conduct that breached its duty to Michael Tsahrelias, causing his death. Mr Hanna also pleaded guilty to workplace manslaughter in his role as an officer of the company.

During sentencing, Universal Stone & Marble accepted that the offending was serious in nature. The Court also considered the “heightened culpability” of the company, owing to Mr Hanna’s negligent operation of the forklift across a slope with a high swinging load, which was contrary to basic safety rules.


In sentencing Universal Stone & Marble and Mr Hanna, the Court had regard to the following factors:

  • the need to deter negligent conduct in the workplace that breaches work health and safety duties and results in death;
  • the need for denunciation of the conduct in sentencing, although this factor was moderated in this case by the brief period of the negligent conduct and the fact that Mr Hanna believed Michael Tsahrelias had moved away from the forklift; and
  • the need for specific deterrence and protection of the community.

The Court also had regard to the following mitigating factors: 

  • Mr Hanna’s cooperation, both personally and on behalf of the company;
  • Mr Hanna’s assistance to the Tsahrelias family, including general financial assistance and payment of funeral expenses;
  • Mr Hanna’s compliance with the improvement notices issued by WorkSafe Victoria;
  • Mr Hanna’s contrition;
  • Mr Hanna and the company’s early guilty plea;
  • Mr Hanna and the company’s clean record and prior good character;
  • the significant impact on Mr Hanna’s health; and
  • Mr Hanna’s excellent prospects of rehabilitation.

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