Assessment of laboratory safety knowledge among biological sciences students at the University of Southern Mississippi
The twofold purpose of the present study was (1) to analyze the relationship between the method of safety education and laboratory safety knowledge among biological sciences students, and (2) to evaluate the safety conditions in the laboratories of the Biological Sciences department. Two hundred seventy-four biology students participated in the first part of the study by completing a laboratory safety knowledge survey that was developed by the researcher. Although a statistical difference was found in laboratory safety knowledge and the method of safety education, the difference in laboratory safety knowledge and the academic rankings of the biology students was not statistically significant. Formal safety education appeared to play a major factor in increasing the level of safety knowledge among the students surveyed. These findings support earlier reports that suggested a formal unit on laboratory safety can improve the students' knowledge of safety practices in the biology laboratory. In the second part of the study, four biology laboratory teaching facilities were inspected to determine the level of safety compliance. As documented in other academic institutions, the laboratories did not meet all the safety standards and guidelines. The lack of emergency plans and identification signs/labels were identified as the major sources of deficiency.