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Is health and safety legislation an effective tool for disaster risk reduction? A case study from New Zealand

Authors: Sophie Horsfall, Tracy Hatton, Toni Collins, Charlotte Brown

Paper number: EQC 20/787

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Organisations are often overlooked by national disaster risk reduction efforts. By supporting
organisations to be more disaster resilient, communities are more resilient. This research investigated whether New Zealand’s recent legislation, the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015, has co-benefits for increasing seismic risk reduction in organisations. Through interviews and surveys with New Zealand organisations, it was found that the HSWA was a key motivator for organisations to implement seismic risk reduction within the workplace. This was driven by a strong desire to protect staff and customers from earthquake impacts. However, a lack of information and guidance on how to reduce earthquake risks, especially in small and medium enterprises, was found to limit the effectiveness of this legislation as a disaster risk reduction lever. Overall, this research found that even with a safety culture present, for legislation to be successfully leveraged to reduce disaster risks in organisations, guidance is required.


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