Risk Assessment and Standard Operating Procedures

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), there is a responsibility to recognize, assess, and control hazards if there is a potential of affecting a worker. A proactive approach to ensuring a safe and healthy workplace anticipates hazards and risks and implements control measures before work starts or any significant exposure to risk occurs.

As part of the University’s Heath, Safety & Environment Management System (HSEMS), the Risk Assessment Program provides departments the guidance and knowledge required to proactively identify hazards, analyze risk, and put the appropriate controls in place to manage those hazards.

See the University's Risk Assessment Program for more information. 

Conducting risk assessments

Site risk assessments

It is the responsibility of managers and supervisors to complete risk assessments for the areas under their control before assigning work. From the following site risk assessment templates, select the most appropriate based on the task:

General use

Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) is a tool that identifies hazards related to a particular job or task by breaking the job into steps. A JHA must be completed for all higher-risk tasks or jobs.



Program-specific (Biosafety, Lasers, Nanomaterials)

There are also program-specific risk assessment tools and templates available on their program pages:

If you hold a specific safety program permit, review your program to determine what specific risk assessment applies to your permit.

Departmental Hazard Register

Departmental Heads are responsible for completing and maintaining the Departmental Hazard Register. Refer to the Hazard Register Manual for support.

Department heads who have not completed their initial Hazard Register should contact safety@uwaterloo.ca.

Hazard Register tutorial videos

Video 1: Explains the various sheets in the Hazard Register Excel Workbook

Video 2: Describes in detail how the Hazard Register sheet is to be filled in

Video 3: Provides several practical examples of how to fill in hazards

Writing standards operating procedures (SOPs)

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are an administrative control used to provide step by step instructions on how a trained individual would complete a hazardous task. SOPs are required when the risk level remains above a “Low” level as determined by the risk assessment or when required as outlined in a safety program (e.g., laser safety requires SOPs for all Class 3B and 4 lasers).

SOP resources:


Risk Assessment (SO2500)

This online training module introduces those working in supervisory roles to the concept of risk assessment and the University's Risk Assessment Program.

Who should take this course?

  • Department heads/directors/chairs
  • Departmental health and safety coordinators
  • Supervisors/managers (department heads/directors/chairs are responsible for deciding which supervisors and managers require this training)

Risk Assessment Application (SO2501)

This interactive classroom training session details how to perform risk assessments using the appropriate tools and builds upon the concepts introduced in Risk Assessment (SO2500).

Who should take this course?

Those who completed Risk Assessment (SO2500) and want/need further guidance completing risk assessments in their area of responsibility.


  • Risk Assessment (SO2500) must be completed before registering for Risk Assessment Application (SO2501).