Legislative levers to improve disaster risk reduction

Understanding organisations’ perceptions of obligations under the NZ Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 in relation to seismic hazards.

Project overview

Creating a resilient New Zealand requires effort from all of society. Organisations, in particular, have the potential to be a catalyst in building a resilient nation. Organisations that effectively manage natural hazard risk provide safety for their employees, minimise economic losses through downtime, and are able to support community recovery by providing key services, employment, and economic stimulus.

Organisations have a number of regulatory obligations to protect their employees and other stakeholders, such as those in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). The HSWA has a core purpose to “protect workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety, and welfare by eliminating or minimising risks arising from work….”.  On the surface, the legislation is well placed to promote seismic risk reduction activities, however we currently have little understanding of how organisations interpret and act on obligations within the HSWA to reduce seismic risk. 

Understanding the obligations imposed by current legislation, as well as how legislation is interpreted and acted upon by organisations, will help us to determine

1) the potential impact of legislation on influencing disaster risk reduction behaviours, and

2) how legislative levers could be better utilised to encourage preparedness and reduce economic loss and injury following natural hazard events.

Project goals

The project has two objectives:

  1. To understand organisations’ obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and other related legislation, their interpretations of these obligations, and the actual actions taken to reduce earthquake impacts on their organisation and employees.
  2. To identify ways in which policy and legislation can be better leveraged to encourage behaviour change within organisations.

Key contact

Tracy Hatton

Joint Managing Director
Resilient Organisations Ltd
e : [email protected]

Project team

Tracy Hatton

Resilient Organisations

Toni Collins

University of Canterbury

Dave Brunsdon


Our funders

This project has been funded through the New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC) Biennial Research Funding Programme.