Two discrete choice experiments on laboratory safety decisions and practices
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Two discrete choice experiments on laboratory safety decisions and practices

Filetype[PDF-1.07 MB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      J Safety Res
    • Description:

      The path toward enhancing laboratory safety requires a thorough understanding of the factors that influence the safety-related decision making of laboratory personnel.


      We developed and administered a web-based survey to assess safety-related decision making of laboratory personnel of a government research organization. The survey included two brief discrete choice experiments (DCEs) that allowed for quantitative analysis of specific factors that potentially influence safety-related decisions and practices associated with two different hypothetical laboratory safety scenarios. One scenario related to reporting a laboratory spill, and the other scenario involved changing protective gloves between laboratory rooms. The survey also included several brief self-report measures of attitude, perception, and behavior related to safety practices.


      Risk perception was the most influential factor in safety-related decision making in both scenarios. Potential negative consequences and effort associated with reporting an incident and the likelihood an incident was detected by others also affected reporting likelihood. Wearing gloves was also affected somewhat by perceived exposure risk, but not by other social or work-related factors included in the scenarios.


      The study demonstrated the promise of DCEs in quantifying the relative impact of several factors on safety-related choices of laboratory workers in two hypothetical but realistic scenarios. Participants were faced with hypothetical choice scenarios with realistic features instead of traditional scaling techniques that ask about attitudes and perceptions. The methods are suitable for addressing many occupational safety concerns in which workers face tradeoffs in their safety-related decisions and behavior.

      Practical Application:

      Safety-related decisions regarding laboratory practices such as incident reporting and use of PPE were influenced primarily by workers’ perceptions of risk of exposure and severity of risks to health and safety. This finding suggests the importance of providing laboratory workers with adequate and effective education and training on the hazards and risks associated with their work. DCEs are a promising research method for better understanding the relative influences of various personal, social, and organizational factors that shape laboratory safety decisions and practices. The information gained from DCEs may lead to more targeted training materials and interventions.

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