Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shokrani, Masih

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions


Laboratory safety in academic settings has long been a concern for colleges and universities worldwide. Education and training for lab safety is often a one size fits all process. That is, the same training given to faculty and staff is also given to students. However, students are generally younger, less educated and less experienced than faculty or staff. To better understand the students’ educational needs related to lab safety, it was important to understand their attitudes toward safety behaviors and perceived risks of hazards in a lab. To confound matters, the COVID-19 pandemic added another level of concern regarding personal health, so this study used the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to better understand the specific constructs of attitude, subjective norm and perceived behavioral control as they relate to laboratory safety behavior. Also, the possible connection to perceived risk was explored in conjunction with the TPB. Finally, the effects of the current pandemic on laboratory safety were investigated. A Qualtrics survey of 45 questions was distributed to faculty, staff and college students in laboratory-related courses in the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Medical Laboratory Sciences of a Midwestern university. The survey utilized instruments from previous studies, in addition to new questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the survey were analyzed using SPSS statistical software. The study results confirmed that the TPB is an excellent theoretical model for understanding laboratory safety behavior. Attitude and subjective norm made up 77% of the variance of behavioral intention. Perceived risk and various demographic variables did not appear to be related to behavioral intention, although the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened students’ awareness of personal safety and laboratory safety. Moving forward, the TPB should be utilized in training development to improve students’ safety behaviors. Recommendations based on this research include faculty and staff modeling behaviors, closer supervision of students and proficiency testing (attitude and subjective norm). Safety teams and recognition of safety (attitude and perceived behavioral control) will motivate students to be more involved in the aspects of laboratory safety. Support at the administration level includes both safety polices and the financial support to enact the policies.


123 pages




Northern Illinois University

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