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Victoria’s First Industrial Manslaughter Case Explained

The Harsh Reality: Complying with Workplace Safety Legislation in Australia

After many years of providing OH&S advice and guidance to businesses of all shapes and sizes, Performance Advantage has never shied away from highlighting the importance of adhering to workplace safety legislation. Recent events in Victoria, particularly the case of R v L H Holding & Hanna [2024], underscore the dire consequences of neglecting safety policies and procedures.

In this landmark case, a stonemasonry company, Universal Stone & Marble, and its director, Mr. Hanna, faced severe penalties following the tragic death of a subcontractor, Michael Tsahrelias. The incident occurred due to a series of negligent actions, culminating in a forklift accident that claimed Tsahrelias’ life.

What led to this outcome?

The court found that Mr. Hanna’s reckless operation of the forklift, combined with the company’s failure to ensure a safe working environment, constituted a breach of duty that directly resulted in Tsahrelias’ death. The ramifications were significant: a $1.3-million fine for the company, a community correction order for Mr. Hanna, and compensation payments totaling $120,000 to Tsahrelias’ family.

This case serves as a sobering reminder for business owners across Australia. Compliance with workplace safety laws isn’t just a legal obligation—it’s a moral imperative. Negligence can have devastating consequences, not only for employees but also for the company and its leadership.

In sentencing Universal Stone & Marble and Mr. Hanna, the court emphasized the need for deterrence and denunciation of negligent conduct in the workplace. However, mitigating factors such as cooperation, contrition, and prior good character were also taken into account.

If you are an employer or business, it’s your duty to prioritise safety in the workplace. This means implementing robust safety procedures, providing adequate training, and fostering a culture of accountability. By doing so, you will not only protect your employees but also safeguard the reputation and viability of your businesses.

Key lessons

As a very unfortunate conclusion, the case of R v L H Holding & Hanna [2024] serves as a stark warning for business owners: failing to comply with workplace safety legislation can have dire consequences. Employers across Australia should learn from this tragedy and commit to prioritising safety in all aspects of your operations. Otherwise, the next business being held up as a case study could be yours.

If you wish to prevent your business from becoming the next headline in a similar court case, you can always get in contact with us and find out how your business compares. Performance Advantage has extensive experience in making sure businesses of all sizes are compliant with their OH&S and other Workplace Safety obligations, all with the goal of preventing this sort of thing happening to your business and employees. If you think your business could do with a Workplace Safety audit, please contact us on 0408 897 079 or at