Chemistry laboratory safety climate survey (CLASS): A tool for measuring students’ perceptions of safety

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Abstract

College environments are often considered low risk level in comparison to industrial settings. However, college chemistry laboratories might present more hazardous conditions than those that are typically found in other academic settings. Accidents in college laboratories have revealed significant gaps in safety. The concept of safety climate was broadened here to include students’ perceptions of safety in chemistry laboratories. First, a 40-item chemistry laboratory safety climate survey (CLASS) was developed and tested for content validity and reliability in a group of college students (n = 307) enrolled in laboratory classes. In a second study, the new scale was tested in a group of students (n = 357) to confirm the proposed structure. Confirmatory factor analysis and Cronbach’s alpha were used to test validity and reliability. In Study 1, the CFA resulted in a 4-dimension safety climate scale with 15 items (Chi-square = 223.875; df = 98; p < 0.0001; CFI = 0.980; RMSEA = 0.066). Cronbach’s alpha ranged from 0.695 to 0.810. The multidimensional content validity was confirmed in Study 2 (Chi-square = 167.5; df = 98; p < 0.0001; CFI = 0.954; RMSEA = 0.053) and Cronbach’s alpha ranged from 0.695 to 0.842. The students’ safety climate scores were slightly high but still showed room for improvement. This study showed that a safety climate may also emerge in informal groups and that to improve safety conditions in college laboratories, more careful analysis of the safety perceptions of laboratory users other than faculty and staff is required in order to develop targeted safety interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chemical Health and Safety
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2019

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