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Essential Workplace Risk Assessment Templates: A Comprehensive Guide for Safety and Compliance

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 2.8 million workplace injuries in the United States in 2022. Nearly 5,500 of those injuries led to fatalities. These numbers underscore an undeniable fact: risks are everywhere, including (and perhaps especially) in the workplace. To keep employees safe and healthy, and to avoid possible legal jeopardy, employers need to minimize workplace risk as much as possible. 

That’s where workplace risk assessments—and, more specifically, workplace risk assessment templates—come in. A workplace risk assessment is a careful process that involves identifying and evaluating potential risks within a workplace. A workplace risk assessment template is a form that can be used to systematically document hazards at work and assess the workplace’s risk level, likelihood of injury, injury severity, and more.

A comprehensive workplace risk assessment will not only consider physical risks, however. Risks to employees’ mental health should also be evaluated. Considering both physical and mental health risks will result in a comprehensive workplace risk assessment—and a healthier overall work environment.

In this blog, we’ll explore the various types of hazards managers should look out for, as well as the different types of workplace risk assessment templates at their disposal. We will also examine the key components of an effective and comprehensive risk assessment, how to implement and monitor risk assessments, various risk analysis tools, and other risk prediction methodologies companies can employ to make their workplaces less risky and more productive.

Fundamentals of Workplace Risk Assessment

Safety inspector checking equipment on a rooftop, emphasizing the importance of workplace risk assessment.

Workplace risk assessments are critical to maintaining a safe and productive workplace environment. The act of identifying possible hazards and documenting them allows managers to have a better understanding of things that have the potential to cause harm, whether physical or mental. They can then begin to address these issues before they cause damage to employees or present the company with legal problems. 

In short, a company that practices workplace risk assessments is less likely to experience worker downtime due to illness or injury, and more likely to have a safe and happy workforce.

Definition and Importance

A workplace risk assessment is a process in which organizations identify and evaluate potential risks or hazards to their employees. These could include but are not limited to: 

  • Items or machinery that might cause physical harm to a person.
  • The evaluation of hazardous substances that could pose a threat to a person’s well-being.
  • Situations that could adversely impact the mental health of an employee.

The United States Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970. OSHA requires employees to maintain strict safety standards to protect their employees. Specifically, employers are required to:

  • Provide employees with a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or physical harm.
  • Comply with all OSHA standards.
  • Train employees on workplace hazards and appropriate safety procedures.
  • Make, keep, and preserve accurate safety records and present them to federal officials upon request.

Employers must also:

  • Maintain equipment and ensure that it is running properly.
  • Immediately communicate potential hazards or safety issues to all employees.
  • Require and provide protective equipment.
  • Keep adequate records of all occupational accidents.

Workplace risk assessments can help organizations adhere to OSHA’s framework and compliance requirements. Employers can use the assessments to ensure they are following the law, thereby avoiding potential legal troubles—all while maintaining a safe working environment.

Comprehensive Risk Assessment Templates Overview

There are several types of risk assessment templates organizations can choose from, depending on their needs and the type of risk they wish to measure. Here are a few of the most common types of templates.

Qualitative risk assessment. A qualitative risk assessment evaluates potential risks based on their likelihood and potential impact on the organization. Risks are identified and assigned risk level ratings, with higher numbers corresponding to elevated risk levels.

Qualitative risk assessments are ideal for organizations that want to measure risk by level of severity. With a visual template, the organization can then prioritize which risks to remediate first.

Quantitative risk assessment. A quantitative risk assessment uses data to quantify and measure the likelihood of risks and their potential for damage. This type of risk assessment consists of four key components, including:

  • Risk identification: All risks are identified and documented.
  • Risk analysis: Risk probabilities and their potential impacts are analyzed.
  • Risk matrix: Risks are prioritized based on severity and potential impact.
  • Risk mitigation: A risk mitigation strategy is developed to minimize or eliminate risks identified in the broader quantitative risk assessment.

Quantitative risk assessments are best for organizations that want to base their risk management strategies on hard data.

Site-specific risk assessment. A site-specific risk assessment analyzes risks inherent in a particular location or environment (an industrial plant or construction site, for example). It’s particularly useful for environments that involve use of machinery, hazardous materials, and so forth.

Site-specific risk assessments generally include:

  • Analyzing and identifying potential hazards.
  • Assessing a business’s vulnerability to those hazards.
  • Analyzing the consequences if such a hazard were to befall a business or its employees.
  • Developing risk mitigation strategies based on the findings.

Dynamic risk assessment.  A dynamic risk assessment is designed to help businesses adapt and respond to changing risks within their workplaces. Dynamic risk assessments require organizations to continually monitor and reassess risks. They are ideal for identifying emerging risks and implementing the necessary mitigation measures—before the risks cause harm. 

General Risk Assessment Template

A general risk assessment (or generic risk assessment) template is a template that can be used for many different scenarios. A general risk assessment covers general workplace risks and is not tailored to a particular aspect of the workplace, such as a site-specific risk assessment or a health and safety risk assessment. A general risk assessment is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A general risk assessment template will typically look something like this:

Risk Assessment Matrix categorizing likelihood and severity of workplace hazards, useful for implementing general risk assessment templates.

A similar matrix will be created for each identified hazard, making it easy for organizations to see which hazards pose the highest risk for injuries and fatalities. With this information in hand, organizations can take proactive action to eliminate the risks, starting with the hazards that present the most serious consequences. 

Addressing Mental Health in Risk Assessments

Maintaining a safe workplace environment is not just about keeping employees protected from physical dangers. Ensuring a workplace is free of psychological hazards is equally important for employees’ mental health and overall well-being. 

Examples of hazards that could take a toll on employees’ mental health include:

  • Work overload or inability to achieve proper work/life balance.
  • Cultural change within the workplace.
  • Strained working relationships.
  • Lack of defined roles.
  • Lack of proper training.

Mental health risk assessments are instrumental in minimizing these and other psychological threats. Rather than an individual assessment, organization-wide mental health risk assessments are designed to provide a perspective on a business’s overall effectiveness in providing a stable and mentally stimulating work environment. 

Mental Health Risk Assessment Form

A mental health risk assessment form is a useful tool in evaluating an organization’s ability to provide a mentally challenging, yet healthy, workplace. The form will generally consist of the following categories:

  • Job Characteristics, including factors that could make a job more stressful.
  • Role Characteristics, including whether employees’ roles are clearly defined.
  • Work Environment, taking into account the impact that changes to company culture, the work environment, and more have on the mental health of employees.
  • Relationships, considering whether or not there is clarity on who reports to whom, trust issues, and more.

Each category will be accompanied by a risk factor (i.e., whether employees appear to be overworked, whether they have a say in what goes on in the company, whether they clearly understand what’s expected of them, etc.). Another line item might include suggested actions to be taken to minimize or address the risks and when those actions should be completed.

Hazard-Specific Assessment Forms

Workplace hazards exist in many forms. Two of the most common, ergonomic and chemical hazards, are very different, yet can also be very debilitating. Let’s explore the differences between the two and the best practices and forms that organizations can use to mitigate their potential for damage.

Ergonomic and Chemical Hazards

Ergonomic workplace hazards are workplace conditions that could end up causing long-term health issues for employees. Examples include:

  • Improperly designed workstations.
  • Poor posture.
  • Use of repetitive motion.
  • Improper temperature control.
  • Continuous vibrations.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, these and other ergonomic hazards could lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs can, in turn, cause pain, stiffness, tiredness, clumsiness, and other symptoms that can impact employees’ health and ability to perform their duties.

Industry-Specific Risk Assessment Templates

It’s often helpful for organizations to use risk assessment templates and practices that are tailored to their industries. For example, the healthcare and construction industries both pose specific types of risks, including hazards associated with biological and chemical substances, utilities, falling objects, and more. Templates and assessments designed to analyze those specific risks can help organizations maintain safe and healthy work environments.

Tailored Templates for Construction and Healthcare

There are several ways to measure risk in a healthcare or construction setting. Two of the most popular involve creating a health and safety risk assessment or a construction risk assessment. 

The templates used to analyze risk in these settings are like other types of workplace risk assessments, in that they catalog possible dangers and prioritize them in terms of likelihood and severity. However, they specifically focus on risks that are likely to only be found in healthcare or construction environments.

Health and safety risk assessment. A health and safety risk assessment focuses on the health and safety aspects of a workplace. These types of assessments are ideal for organizations that deal with hazardous materials (i.e., biological chemicals that could cause infection or disease). Safety and control measures are documented and analyzed, risk ratings are assigned, and the likelihood of potential damage is accounted for. 

Construction risk assessment. A construction risk assessment catalogs all the potential risks found on a construction site. These include fall risks, risk of electrocution, risk of being struck by an object, etc.

Construction risk assessments always include the following core elements:

  • Tasks being performed on the construction site.
  • Risks associated with those tasks.
  • The likelihood of the risks occurring.
  • The potential impact of those risks.
  • Mitigation and response strategies.

Key Components of Risk Assessment

Though there are many different types of workplace risk assessments, all of them have three common components: hazard identification, risk analysis, and control measures. Let’s explore each of these components and provide examples to illustrate possible risks and how they might be categorized.

Hazard Identification, Risk Analysis, and Control Measures

Hazard identification. Workplaces are carefully monitored for potential hazards. Hazards can be physical (i.e., unsafe heights on a construction site, malfunctioning machinery, etc.), mental (i.e., harassment, bullying, stress, etc.), chemical (i.e., fumes, gas, etc.), ergonomic (i.e., poorly designed workstations), or biological (i.e., blood, bacteria, waste, etc.).

Risk analysis. Once hazards are identified they are analyzed for their potential risk to humans. Risk levels are often categorized by severity (i.e., low risk, high risk, etc.). They could also be categorized according to the potential for harm (i.e. likely to cause a fatality, likely to cause minor injuries, etc.).

Control measures. Organizations can then prioritize hazards in terms of those that are most likely to cause harm and begin to implement control measures to mitigate their risk potential. Examples of control measures include requiring hearing protection at excessively loud worksites, using personal protective equipment in a hospital, etc.

Customization and Utilization of Templates

Every workplace is different and has its unique risks. The type of hazards one might see in a hospital will differ significantly from those seen in an office building, for example. Therefore, it is often a good idea to customize workplace risk templates to fit the special circumstances of each industry and work environment. 

Creating customized templates is not always necessary, of course. Sometimes a general risk assessment and template is enough (it is certainly better than not having a template at all). Businesses should carefully weigh the value of having a generic template versus a custom template. Organizations in specialized fields such as healthcare, construction, biosciences, etc., should consider creating custom workplace risk templates to ensure their employees are well protected from specific threats. 

Adapting Templates for Specific Needs

Organizations that choose to create customized risk templates can do so in a way that is creative and ensures the companies remain compliant with OSHA. Tactics for customizing and adapting risk templates for specific needs include:

  • Start with a generic risk template. Create or download a generic risk template that includes categories for risks within the organization, potential outcomes if not addressed, severity levels of the outcomes, etc.
  • Add fields and columns specific to the industry/organization. For example, a healthcare organization may wish to include the potential risk of not wearing personal protective gear, while the risk template for a construction site might list potential fall and electrical hazards.
  • Create a plan to address and mitigate risks. Once the analysis is complete, create a plan to address each of the risks. For the aforementioned healthcare organization, that could include ensuring that all employees have access to and understand the need to wear protective equipment. 

Implementing and Monitoring Risk Assessments

Engaged team of professionals in high visibility jackets discussing safety protocols, an integral part of risk assessment.

Perhaps the most important part of any workplace risk assessment is the implementation phase. While this phase begins immediately upon completion of the assessment, the organizations that truly benefit from this process are the ones that continually monitor and review their safety policies and risks. 

Action Plans, Prioritization, and Review

All risk management plans should include a detailed implementation strategy that helps organizations systematically address the risks that were uncovered during the analysis phase. Effectively executing a plan includes:

  • Prioritizing the risks in terms of their potential threats, how likely they are to occur, and how much damage they could cause.
  • Creating a plan to address and mitigate the risks, starting with high-priority risks first and continuing through the rest of the list.
  • Implementing a communication and/or training strategy to make employees aware of the risks, what the company is doing to address them, and how employees can help.
  • Continually reassessing risks, as organizational hazards and regulations can change over time.

Conclusion: Empowering Safety and Compliance Through Effective Risk Assessment

Workplace risk assessments are essential to a safe and productive work environment. They help organizations identify potential hazards that could do physical or mental harm to employees; analyze the possible outcomes if the hazards were to occur; and create proactive plans to rectify the hazards before they become real problems. 

In short, organizations that perform frequent risk assessments have a better chance of creating safer workplaces that are compliant with federal workplace safety laws and regulations.

Acuity International has extensive experience in risk management and analysis. Contact us today to start a conversation about how we can help you develop a workplace risk assessment plan that keeps your employees safe and secure.


  • How do you conduct a risk assessment?

    A workplace risk assessment is a careful process that involves identifying and evaluating potential risks within a workplace. In a workplace risk assessment, potential hazards to employees are identified, analyzed, and categorized by priority level and possible outcomes (i.e., fatalities, minor injuries, etc.)

  • What is a risk assessment template?

    A workplace risk assessment template is a document that organizations use to catalog and categorize identified risks. Templates often take the form of easy-to-read matrices that allow organizations to visualize the threats in their organization by priority level and likely outcomes so they can prioritize how to proactively address potential risks.

  • What are at least 10 hazards and risks in the workplace?

    There are many types of workplace hazards and risks. Some of the most common include:

    • Hazardous chemicals
    • Ladders
    • Heights
    • Tripping hazards
    • Electrical hazards
    • Biological hazards
    • Faulty equipment/machinery
    • Mental hazards (stress, for example)
    • Ergonomic hazards (poorly designed workstations, for example)
    • Fire hazards 

  • What are three types of control measures?

    Control measures are effective in mitigating and preventing workplace accidents. Three common types of control measures include:

    • Removal of hazardous materials
    • Repair of faulty equipment
    • Training of employees

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