An Analysis of Incident/Accident Reports from the Texas Secondary Science Safety Survey 2001 and 2003




Stephenson, Amanda L.

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Safety issues are of top concern in today s science classes in secondary schools. More and more, science activities are resulting in serious accidents and nearmisses. To date, very little research has been conducted in the area of science safety in secondary school courses. Furthermore, no significant relationships have been identified between mishaps and facility, classroom management, or safety training issues. To add to the research base and to search for possible factors that may increase the occurrence of incidents and accidents, this study investigated safety in Texas secondary school science laboratory, classroom, and field settings during the 2002-2003 school year. Texas Education Agency drew a random representative sample consisting of 199 secondary public schools in Texas. There were a total of 332 reports responses in this study. All of the reports were anonymous, and predominantly unstructured and open-ended. They are unique in capturing the strengths and weaknesses of safety practices in science classrooms, laboratories, and field sites as perceived by science teachers. To identify possible variables that may increase the likelihood of mishaps, frequency distributions were utilized. Pertinent findings from the completed reports include: 1) mishaps appear to increase with increasing class size in middle school and high school, 2) mishaps appear to increase with decreasing room size in middle school and high school, 3) a large portion of science teachers are not being trained in safety, which appears to relate to mishaps, and 4) lack of teaching experience appears to also relate to mishaps. In addition to these findings, this study also identified the most frequent incidents and accidents reported in middle schools and high schools in the sample. The findings of this study can be used to develop science classroom, lab, and field safety guidelines on a classroom, school, district, state, and a national level.



science equipment, teaching, laboratories, safety measures, accident reports


Stephenson, A. L. (2003). An analysis of incident/accident reports from the Texas secondary science safety survey 2001 and 2003 (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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