In the offshore petroleum industry, employees are transported to and from the offshore installations by helicopter, which represents a major risk. This paper analyzes how to improve transportation safety by solving the helicopter routing problem with a risk objective expressed in terms of expected number of fatalities. A mathematical model is proposed and a tabu search heuristic is applied to this problem. Three routing policies are considered: a direct routing policy, a Hamiltonian routing policy, and a general routing policy. Extensive computational experiments are conducted on instances derived from real data in order to assess and compare these policies under a travel time, a passenger risk and a combined passenger and pilot risk objective. Several management insights can be derived from this study. In particular, our results show that passenger transportation risk can be reduced by increasing travel time at the expense of pilot risk. This can be achieved through a reduction of the average number of passengers onboard by applying either a Hamiltonian or a general routing policy. Our methodology can also be used to derive an equitable distribution of risk between passengers and pilots, considering that pilots fly much more frequently than passengers.