Victorian company fined $1.3M after pleading guilty to workplace manslaughter

06 March 2024

A Victorian stonemasonry company is the first company to be sentenced under Victoria’s new workplace manslaughter laws.


On 19 February 2024, LH Holding Management Pty Ltd (LH Holdings) became the first Victorian company to be successfully prosecuted under the new Victorian workplace manslaughter regime.

Workplace manslaughter was first introduced as an offence in Victoria on 1 July 2020.1 Since that time, under section 39G of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OH&S Act), it has been an offence for companies and their officers to engage in negligent conduct that constitutes a breach of a duty owed to another person under the OH&S Act which causes the person’s death.

If found guilty of workplace manslaughter, officers of companies face a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment and companies face a maximum penalty of over $19 million.2


On 12 October 2021, LH Holdings’ sole director, Mr Laith Hanna, operated a loaded forklift across a sloped driveway while a subcontractor stood by to assist with stabilising the load. The forklift tipped over and landed on the subcontractor, resulting in fatal injuries.

Relevantly, the Court found that:

  • LH Holdings was negligent in failing to ensure that the forklift was operated safely;
  • Mr Hanna operated the forklift and therefore caused the death of the subcontractor; and
  • LH Holdings’ contravention of the OH&S Act was attributable to Mr Hanna’s failure to take reasonable care.

LH Holdings pleaded guilty to one charge of workplace manslaughter before the Supreme Court of Victoria, and was convicted and fined $1.3 million.

Mr Hanna pleaded guilty to a single charge under section 144(1) of the OH&S Act for being an officer of a company that committed workplace manslaughter. Mr Hanna was sentenced to a 2-year Community Corrections Order and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Mr Hanna and LH Holdings were ordered to pay $120,000 in compensation to the subcontractor’s family.


Although the new offence of workplace manslaughter did not create a new duty under the OH&S Act, the provision provides significant deterrence to companies and officers to ensure compliance with their duties under the OH&S Act, and provides for tough penalties if there is a death at a workplace.

Although LH Holdings’ and Mr Hanna’s penalties were far from the maximum penalties available to the Court, the maximum penalties reflect the parliament’s view in respect of the seriousness of the offence and the penalties imposed against LH Holdings and Mr Hanna were substantial.

1 Section 3 of the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Act 2019.
2 Section 39G(1) and 39G(2). Based on the Victorian penalty unit in the 2023 – 2024 financial year.

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