Proceedings of The International Academic Conference on Education
Investigating Health and Safety in Science Laboratories in Saudi Arabian Secondary Schools
This paper presents the findings of a study that investigated teachers’ perceptions of health and safety risks in science laboratories in secondary schools in Saudi Arabia. It identified the level of knowledge of school staff about health and safety risks and reviewed the current practices in the schools. A mixed methods study design was utilised to investigate the phenomenon. A stratified random sampling technique was used to select male and female teachers from 19 secondary schools in two cities, Jeddah and Riyadh. The survey was developed by adapting items from previous studies. Descriptive statistics and independent t-Test analyses were used to analyse the survey data and present the results. Interview questions, developed from literature, were used to collect qualitative in-depth data and complement quantitative data. The qualitative data was thematically analysed.Quantitative results revealed that there were very few differences in the perceptions of teachers based on gender. When interviewed, most teachers reported they had no knowledge of prudent work practices, lacked training and were not supported by school management and policy makers. Overall the findings indicate that the safety culture in the school laboratories was less well established. The results of this study can have important implications for both school stakeholders responsible for implementing health and safety in school laboratories and the policy makers.The empirical contribution of this paper is founded on the fact that this study is conducted in the context of health and safety risks in science laboratories at secondary school level where there is limited empirical evidence. The adoption of a holistic mixed methods investigation yielded findings which contributed to a better understanding of issues in laboratories and how schools and policymakers can carefully consider practices that support a positive safety culture.
Keywords: Health and safety risks, Culture of safety, Safety climate, School laboratories.