The Different Types of Risk Assessment

Discover the different types of risk assessment processes that your organization can use, from hazard identification and evaluation to threat mitigation and action planning.

people choosing the right type of risk assessment to use

What Do Types of Risk Assessments Mean?

Various types of risk assessments are available for managers, auditors, and assessors to identify risks and hazards in the workplace, which are often mandatory in numerous industries. A risk assessment is a systematic process that organizations utilize to identify and analyze potential hazards within the workplace. Organizations use risk assessment processes to identify possible solutions for risk reduction or develop action plans for threats or dangers.

For this process, the assessors collaborate with multiple departments to identify benchmarks that aid in monitoring risk levels within the organization and creating control measures to mitigate the short- and long-term impacts of specific risks.

In addition to identifying hazards, risk assessments also identify inefficiencies within a team, a department, or an overall organization. Managers can use risk assessment processes to identify areas lacking productivity, incur unnecessary expenses, and consume excessive resources. The results from the assessments are used to pinpoint areas for improvement and implement solutions to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in their work.

9 Types of Risk Assessments

The type of risk assessment you use in the workplace will depend on your specific risks, inefficiencies, and organizational challenges. The following are the various risk assessment processes:

1. Quantitative Risk Assessments

Quantitative risk assessments are an essential tool in risk management. They use numerical data and statistical analysis to assess and quantify the risk associated with specific hazards or events. This type of risk assessment provides a more objective and measurable approach to understanding and managing risks.

A quantitative risk assessment’s results are often present as risk matrices or registers, visually representing the risks and their corresponding probabilities and impacts. It allows decision-makers to prioritize and allocate resources based on the level of risk and potential consequences.

2. Qualitative Risk Assessments

Qualitative risk assessments involve a subjective evaluation of potential risks according to severity and probability of occurrence. Unlike quantitative risk assessments, which assign numerical values to risks, qualitative assessments provide a qualitative description or ranking of risks.

Once the risks are identified, they are assessed based on their impact and likelihood. Impact refers to the severity of the consequences if a threat occurs, while likelihood refers to the probability of the risk happening. These assessments typically use a scale, such as low, medium, or high, to categorize the risks.

3. Semi-quantitative Risk Assessments

This method combines qualitative and quantitative risk assessment elements to provide a more comprehensive understanding of risks.

In a semi-quantitative risk assessment, risks are assigned numerical values based on their likelihood and potential impact. The values are usually expressed on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10, with 1 indicating low likelihood/impact and 5 or 10 demonstrating high likelihood/impact. By assigning numerical values, it becomes easier to compare and prioritize risks.

4. Generic Risk Assessment

This type of risk assessment covers the common hazards found in a work task or activity. It is flexible in a sense that it can be widely used in any location, department, or company. The role of a generic risk assessment is to serve as a template to reduce the effort put in duplication in the risk management process. However, do put in mind that every workplace and activity will be slightly different so it is best practice to review and update them accordingly to ensure that its results are accurate and relevant.

5. Site-Specific Risk Assessment

As the name implies, this type of risk assessment is carried out for a specific location. It assesses a specific work task while taking into account the environment and people doing the work in a specific location. A site specific risk assessment can either be qualitative or quantitative or be used with a generic risk assessment template, as long as it is suitable and sufficient in eliminating or controlling risks that may harm people in that location.

6. Asset-Based Risk Assessments

This type of risk assessment focuses on identifying and evaluating the potential risks and vulnerabilities associated with specific assets within an organization. This approach allows for a more targeted and comprehensive analysis of potential risks, as it considers each asset’s unique characteristics and vulnerabilities.

Organizations can use various techniques to assess risks and vulnerabilities, including interviewing key personnel, reviewing historical data and incident reports, and analyzing industry best practices.

7. Vulnerability-Based Risk Assessments

Vulnerability-Based Risk Assessments (VBRA) are risk assessments that focus on identifying and analyzing vulnerabilities within a system or organization. This approach differs from other risk assessment methods, primarily focusing on threats or the likelihood of an event occurring.

VBRA considers the potential weaknesses or vulnerabilities that threats, such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or internal sabotage, could exploit. Organizations can effectively prioritize their resources and efforts to mitigate risks and enhance security by identifying vulnerabilities.

8. Threat-Based Risk Assessments

Threat-based methods thoroughly evaluate your risk posture by examining each condition contributing to risk. These assessments also involve auditing your IT and similar assets to assess the presence or absence of controls.

It’s vital to consider threat-based risk assessments, which consider cybercriminals’ techniques beyond the IT infrastructure to strategize risk mitigation effectively.

For example, employee training is essential to an asset-based risk assessment. In contrast, a threat-based evaluation can provide valuable information on the impact of cybersecurity training in mitigating risk without incurring extra costs.

9. Dynamic Risk Assessment

A dynamic risk assessment is carried out on the spot when sudden unknown risks arise that can harm your workforce, the business, or the general public. This type of risk assessment is usually used by emergency services, or care workers to gauge whether it is safe to continue, or determine what the best course of action is in dealing with the situation. For dynamic risk assessments, workers need to have the right set of skills and awareness to be able to deal with the danger appropriately.

How to Choose the Right Risk Assessment Type?

Different methodologies for risk assessments have their advantages and disadvantages. Organizations can use a combination of these approaches for risk assessments, whether intentionally or by chance.

When designing a risk assessment process, methodologies will depend on the desired outcomes and the organization’s characteristics.

If board-level and executive approvals are the primary criteria, your approach will likely prioritize quantitative methods. Qualitative approaches may be more effective if you require employee and stakeholder support. On the other hand, asset-based assessments are suitable for IT organizations, while threat-based assessments address the challenges of the current cybersecurity landscape.

Rob Paredes
Article by
Rob Paredes
Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.