Introduction: The inherent and unique risks on construction projects quite often present key challenges to contractors. Health and safety risks are among the most significant risks in construction projects since the construction industry is characterized by a relatively high injury and death rate compared to other industries. In construction project management, safety risk assessment is an important step toward identifying potential hazards and evaluating the risks associated with the hazards. Adequate prioritization of safety risks during risk assessment is crucial for planning, budgeting, and management of safety related risks. Method: In this paper, a safety risk assessment framework is presented based on the theory of cost of safety (COS) model and the analytic hierarchy process (AHP). The main contribution of the proposed framework is that it presents a robust method for prioritization of safety risks in construction projects to create a rational budget and to set realistic goals without compromising safety. The impact to the industry: The framework provides a decision tool for the decision makers to determine the adequate accident/injury prevention investments while considering the funding limits. The proposed safety risk framework is illustrated using a real-life construction project and the advantages and limitations of the framework are discussed. (C) 2013 National Safety Council and Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.