Company fined $1.3 million after contractor killed by forklift

Laith Hanna (2nd left) has avoided jail time but his company has been fined $1.3 million.

Laith Hanna (2nd left) has avoided jail time but his company has been fined $1.3 million. Photo: AAP

The distraught family of a 25-year-old contractor killed in a forklift rollover hopes employers will think twice before taking potentially deadly chances.

Michael Tsahrelias was working with his father at Universal Stone and Marble at Somerton in Melbourne’s north in October 2021 when the company’s owner, Laith Hanna, was driving a forklift carrying a metal A-frame.

Hanna – against safety standards – turned the forklift on a downhill slope while carrying the load as it hung suspended about two metres off the ground.

Tsahrelias tried to steady it before the forklift lost balance, tipping over and crushing him.

Hanna screamed for help and the 25-year-old’s father Steve Tsahrelias found him crushed under the machine.

Hanna, now 47, was among those who attempted to revive the man but he died at the scene.

Judge Michael Croucher in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday sentenced Hanna to a two-year community corrections order, under which he will have to complete 200 hours of community service.

He fined Hanna’s company, LH Holding Management Pty Ltd, $1.3 million.

Lawyer for Tsahrelias’ family Tony Carbone said they wanted employers to stop taking risks to avoid further tragedies.

“Don’t leave anything to chance. Just stop (and think), ‘is everyone clear? Is it safe?'” he told reporters outside court.

Hanna will also pay $120,000 in compensation to Tsahrelias’ daughter.


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